Saturday, 16 May 2009

Blu-ray? Who-ray?

It begins earlier this year. February to be exact and H6 is about to become H7. HSM3 (if you’ve got young daughters you’ll know what that means) is due out too.

“Mummy, High School Musical 3 is available on Blu-ray.” Is it? So?

“Yes dear,” I am deaf to such things. It passes me by. When somebody says ‘Blu-ray’ I hear ‘Betamax’ and my brain hits the off button.

I was burned to a crisp in the Betamax v VHS war. I remember the day clearly. Mum and I went to a major electrical retailer to buy new Hoover bags or a five amp fuse or something and wandered innocently past a display of the new fangled video recorders. A weasely salesman whisked out, rubbing his greasy paws and thinking of commission.

Oh why not, we thought, gullibly. But which? Betamax, with its smaller tapes and better quality, or big, clunky VHS? No-brainer, surely? A week later all the rentals plumped for VHS. We were obsolete.

So you see, say “Blu-ray” and I am Not Keen. But, earlier this year we quite fancied a wide screen TV and bought a 32 inch Samsung, not huge, but we live in a cottage not in the local Odeon*, and well, it’s ‘HD ready’. I harbour a fantasy that, someday (when I’ve paid for the new telly) I might be able to afford a new Sky doo-dah and the monthly subscription and get to watch the lovely Toby on Gardeners World in High Definition. Blu-ray never crossed my mind. It didn’t get the slightest peek. I dismissed it completely. Ridiculous idea. What’s wrong with good old DVD?

Ah hah. Then I was invited, as a member of Think Parents Network, to become one of ten Blu-ray ambassadors. What did I know about Blu-ray? (Little.) Would I like to be a Blu-ray ambassador? Would I!

The player (Panasonic) arrived with its HDMI (that's 'High Definition Multimedia Interface' Get me!) cable. Plug it in (one cable, one plug, not rocket science). Switch it on. Insert a Blu-ray disc (it looks exactly like a DVD, but it's blue. Of course, pay attention at the back). Press play.

“Oh. Wow.” (That was me.)

The kids on the sofa are silent (for once) and open-mouthed. It’s only the Blu-ray trailer. But, oh, what a trailer. Pirate Jack-Johnny Sparrow-Depp, Lightning McQueen and Zac Ephron, jump out of the screen at us. I fetch Granny from the Annexe.

“Oh. Wow.” Says G from the A. “You should’ve bought a bigger telly.”

It is so beautiful I nearly cry. This is not Betamax. This is bloody marvellous.

Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to tell.

The colours sizzle. It is so wonderfully clear you feel you could reach into the TV and touch things, Johnny Depp’s face, for example. It is almost 3D. It is utterly astonishing.

I phone my husband at work: “You’ve got to see this!” I shriek. He sounds unimpressed. “Wait ‘til you get home, you won’t believe it!” (bugger, I’ve turned into Victor Meldrew, but a happy Victor Meldrew.)

The free disc in the Blu-ray box is a PG and not suitable for children at tea-time, so I take it out and toss in the DVD of HSM3 (see, hints of Betamax idiocy still lurk. I did buy it on DVD. But, in my defence, I didn’t know.). Halleluiah! It plays in the new machine (as do CDs and a whole herd of other formats I haven’t heard of.). The difference is remarkable. It looks better on the Blu-ray player than on the DVD player, but it’s just not the same. Yes, you can play all your old DVDs on the Blu-ray player, but you won’t want to. Yes, yes, I admit it. I’m converted.

* Actually the picture is so fantastic and the sound's so good, perhaps we do live in the Odeon after all.


  1. Son no 3 (my baby) lives in a 2-up-2-down terrace and has the biggest television I have ever seen. In the world. Ever.

    He was doing HD and Blu-ray when we thought we were pretty racy with a Freeview box. An 'early adopter' I think.

    The clarity is fantastic and I think because he's adopted the few-things-but-large-scale-in- a-small-space principle it kind of works.

  2. The Great Dane had to have Blu-Ray when he bought the giant TV for the new room. I was wary. I'm now a convert because it really is different. The colours, the clarity - fantastic.
    Your cred as a mother must be sky-high right about now!

  3. Sorry to be dim, but I'm not really sure what Blu-ray actually is. Do you have to shell out to get a special telly to see it or will it still look super-duper on a common-or-garden telly. From the 1990s. Seriously?

  4. Kinda with you LBD! Does leave me cold at the mo but I loved your ravings - ever thought of a job in sales PM?!

  5. Mountaineer: Yes the clarity is incredible. I'm completely converted by it, but I don't know that I would have bothered if I hadn't been given a player and pushed in that direction!

    Pondside: Yes, mummy-cred is pretty sky-high at the moment.

    LBD: Yes, you need an HD ready TV (as most new ones seem to be). HD seems to be where everything is headed in the future.

    CK: Ravings? Thanks. Job in sales? No thanks. I didn't rate it much until I actually saw it either.


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