Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Monday, January 09, 2006


CES (consumer electronics show) is now over, so it's time to pour over the details and figure out what's crap and what'll be my next electronics purchases in the coming year!

First off, as I've said before, I'm getting pretty damn pumped about new formats coming out. Up until a few months ago, I was all about the HD-DVD, but that's now shifted to Blu-Ray Disc. BD (which should be BRD, not BD) has all the studios supporting it, on top of the fact that I know for a fact I'll be getting a BD player this year (in the PS3). In addition to that, looking at some of the CES coverage out there, it just seems like the Blu-Ray camp is a little bit better put together.

I've been mulling over a new DVD player purchase for some time now (I'm looking at the Denon 1920), and now I'm at the point where if I can extract a few more months usage out of my current player (odds of which are 50/50), then I could get an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray Disc player instead of spending the money on a regular DVD unit.

Looking at some of the players that were shown at CES (for both formats), most of the designs were terrible. I remember when DVD players first hit, the design and build quality of most of the units were pretty poor, and that's how it looks HD and BD are going to be also, looking at pics of both. Oddly enough, the cases for the two formats are very similar (pics of both are within Digital Bits excellent CES coverage pics).

On the Digital Bits Bill Hunt says that he hopes the new formats begin similar to how DVD did, and they're both elitist formats, where you get excellent discs because the studios are trying to get people to buy their stuff. While I hope that he's right, I don't think that's how it's going to turn out. I think that these studios will offer the same transfers from DVD discs, only slightly upgraded (which is what happened with DVD, using LD transfers). Also, I don't think that we're going to see amazing special editions, at least not at first. I think that it's going to be similar to when companies first were making DTS discs, with them saying that the movie information on the disc took up so much space that there wasn't anything left for extras. Let's hope I'm wrong, but I don't expect the new generation discs to be something special from a presentation standpoint.

How to hook up all this stuff? I've been a big Onkyo fan for some time now, but they seem to be falling behind Denon a little bit. Via CNet, how about this new Denon receiver, the AVR-2807? HMDI switching (very important!) and 480p upconversion (which isn't important for me, but may be for some), this $1100 receiver looks fantastic. I may have to switch away from Onkyo if they can't keep up.

As for which model hardware I'm looking at, I liked both Sony's and Pioneer's Blu-Ray players. I thought the Pioneer hardware looked better than anything else at the show, but that's simply because it looks like a Pioneer. It doesn't look too boxy, like many of the other BD players, and it doesn't look like a prototype, like the Panasonic units. The downside? It's part of the Elite line, which makes it $1800. That's a whole lot for a unit that is probably going to be bested within 3 years. I saw some pics of the Sony unit that I thought looked good, and I saw some other pics of that same unit that I thought looked terrible. I'm going to have to see more before I can rule either way on that one. Both the Pioneer BDP-HD1 and the Denon AVR-2807 were CNet Best of CES Award winners.

2006 is looking like it's going to be a very good year.

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