Netflix HD vs Blu-ray: There Can Be Only Two!
On February 19, 2008 HD-DVD was officially announced dead. Journalists and film collectors rejoiced that the next-gen format war was finally over. Sony’s Blu-ray format had reign supreme.
Although this marked the end of the physical format war, it was the start of a new battle between streaming video services like Netflix and Blu-ray discs. While video on demand from Amazon.com and iTunes have become a contender, it isn’t as competitive as streaming. The reason for this comes down to price. A 24 hour rental of “Black Swan” costs $3.99 on Amazon.com. For a permanent downloadable copy, the price goes up to $14.99. A Netflix subscription is a mere $7.99 per month. With that you can watch an unlimited amount of movies. Video on demand becomes useful for titles that are unavailable via Netflix but ultimately it is low quality video at a high price.
The contenders to be reckoned with are Netflix and Blu-ray. Each offers a unique set of pros and cons. Blu-ray offers unsurpassed video and audio quality. The downside is you are paying a premium price for a movie that for the most part will be sitting on your media shelf collecting dust. Netflix offers a good selection of movies to watch for a low monthly subscription fee. It’s also incredibly convenient as everything Netflix offers is at your fingertips. One disadvantage is that the picture and audio quality of the movies suffer, even when streamed in HD. In addition, Netflix eats up an incredible amount of bandwidth. Most broadband ISPs regulate the amount of bandwidth you use so watching plenty of Netflix may result in overage charges.
There Can Be Only Two!
Yes, this is an edited quote from “Highlander.” The point is that streaming video and Blu-ray both have a place in the future. If you stick with only one, you’ll be missing out on the advantages of a hybrid approach.
Let’s face it. The majority of the movies people watch are disposable. Once you’ve seen it, there is a good chance you’ll never have the urge to watch it again. For these movies Netflix is the answer. It won’t look and sound as good as a Blu-ray but really what you are seeking is a diversion.
Classic films that you truly love are worth buying on physical media. Blu-ray discs store anywhere from 25 to 50 GB of data which allows for superb quality. Fluidly streaming that amount of data through the internet just isn’t practical so Neflix videos are heavily compressed. If you watch a particular movie regularly via streaming, you are eating up bandwidth that could be more wisely allocated towards something else. In these times we are forced to see bandwidth as a finite resource. Wasting it results in fat internet bills.
Blu-ray is King
The only reason I meddle with Netflix is money and an aversion to owning mediocre material. With cost out of the equation, Blu-ray is better in every way except convenience. How hard is to walk towards your collection, grab a disc and pop it in a player? It’s quick and laughably easy. For this reason if I did have to make a choice it would be Blu-ray. Although the discs will be sitting there unused the majority of the time, when I do decide to pick one up I’ll be experiencing something very close to an authentic cinematic experience. That is worth paying a little extra for.