Is Blu-ray going to die even before it makes a big impact on the American TV viewing public? I think so, and here’s why. Right now I am holding in my hand a 16 GB flash card which cost about $30 and a two year old 2 GB flash card which then cost about $30 and a SD card reader which can read them both which was free. What will two more years bring?
By inserting the 16 GB card into the card adapter and the card adapter into any modern computer USB port one can transfer an enormous amount of data. In fact current laptops don’t even need an adapter because they already have a slot for inserting these cards directly. The data available is equal to the total data loaded onto 1 rewritable Blu-ray disk, or the data on 3.5-DVDs, or about 42.5-CDs, or about 11,000-3½-inch floppies or about 94,000-5¼-inch floppies. WOW.
The current on-line low price for Blu-ray rewritable disks is $20 with shipping and the low price for a disc writer is $261. That assumes you have a high def TV and the various hookups. If you go the SD route it assumes you have a reasonable definition monitor and a descent computer with appropriate software. The read speed may not be fast enough off of the SD card but that is easily cured either by transferring the data to a hard drive or giving the read time a bit of a head start as is done all the time now on lower definition YouTube videos transferred over the Internet. Even if this technique isn’t easily available now it soon will be. Another thing easily available is a $100 Terabyte size hard drive (cost equal to 5 Blu-ray disks) which will permit transferring 62 of these SD disks or Blu-ray disks for more permanent storage. (One $100 hard drive equals 62 Blu-ray disks which if you divide by 5 Blu-ray disks for $100 means you can store your movies twelve times cheaper on a hard drive.) Memory just isn’t a problem anymore even for the storage of high definition movies. The producers of this media will try very hard to block these media from being copied but ultimately they can’t stop it because if it can be viewed it can be copied.
So my argument is simple. Why buy an expensive Blu-ray system which will be out of date in a year? As if those problems weren’t bad enough for Blu-ray’s future, consider that NetFlix is already streaming many movies over the Internet instead of shipping them through the mail and may, in the not distant future, offer all twenty thousand of their inventory online. Remember that TV ad which ran last year, “Any movie ever made anywhere … ever”, in a ratty old motel. That will soon be here but it won’t be good enough because there will be something better. Who knows what for sure but most kids are not watching TV much; they are interacting with people in various ways on-line. That’s the way things are going because it is more engaging and more fun.