Ongoing product delays and software disappointments are derailing the Blu-ray hype machine.
Even hardened BD format supporters must be wondering what the heck is going on. In what is proving a protracted series of delays for the product, Sony has confirmed that its debut BDP-S1 Blu-ray player will now not ship until October 25 at the earliest. A company spokesman put the delay down to software issue that were impossible to ignore, saying “It’s not up to the standards that they wanted, so they are still engineering.”
Increasingly it’s looking like the bluster generated by the Blu-ray camp at the the January CES was little more than a high-profile, old-fashioned spoiler campaign designed to undermine the Spring launch of HD DVD, a technology which was clearly more advanced both in terms of development and logistics.
US internet critics have also widely rounded on the first wave of Blu-ray releases, although reaction from the shop floor has been more mixed, according to a report from US trade magazine Home Media Retailing.
Its reporters found little sales activity and general confusion even amongst store staff. One consumer, 28-year old Michael Olshansky, already has an HD DVD player and added the Samsung BD-P1000 player (pictured) to his stack out of “curiosity”.
He purchased The Fifth Element and Underworld: Evolution, and claimed that the picture quality on The Fifth Element “wasn’t much better than standard DVD.”
He added that the Underworld disc was very good, but “not as eye-popping as some HD DVD titles.” He concluded: “I am evaluating my Blu-ray player, but based on initial experience, I am most likely going to return it. I don’t see enough value to justify spending 999 dollars when HD DVD is superior and less expensive.”
36-year old Robert Huebner was rather more impressed. He said: “I find the titles I’ve viewed so far to be more than adequate. They are noticeably better than normal DVDs and quite seamless in their presentation. Blu-ray feels like a finished, polished product. For me, the quality bar was to see something that looked better than cable HD broadcasts and Blu-ray definitely delivered that.”
A Best Buy store in California said it had sold three of the four Samsung BD-P1000 players it had received while a nearby Wal Mart had neither Blu-ray nor HD DVD. When asked where it was a sales clerk said: “I think we’re supposed to get it in, but I don’t think it’s come out yet. I guess it’s going to come in when we get that VHS crap out.”