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What is upscaling and is it worth having?:

Feature: Improve standard dvd experiences with a Blu Ray HDMI player

Quality, quality, quality. Nobody’s quite sure what it is, or how it’s made, but we all want it, don’t we?

Who wants to watch a movie on stupid old DVD (which, just a few short years ago was being touted as Humankind’s greatest achievement since manned spaceflight) when you can see it at its most immaculately presented on Blu Ray?

Now, personally, I think ‘quality’ is slightly overrated. Most of us aren’t nearly sharp-sighted enough to spot how many pixels are at work on a screen at any given time (and if we did have such abilities, we’d all be too busy building palaces on the moon where we could watch over our slaves without fear of an uprising). The ugly truth is that most of us just want to watch the goddamn film and stuff our faces with sugary snacks, temporarily forgetting that we live on a dying planet and in a country run by David Cameron.

There was nothing wrong with DVD, it cleared up the problems of the VHS (you could skip to the bits where they showed boobies without wearing out the tape) and it doesn’t downgrade unless you throw it from the window of a moving car, or try to eat it. I genuinely believe that most people ignored Blu Ray for so long because they didn’t need or want any more ‘quality’ (as well as the fact that it was mega, mega pricey).

However, in whatever year this is, things have changed. Things have always changed, as it turns out. In fact, if you believe the technology industry, things have changed so often that it is hard to tell if they ever existed in the first place. Anyway, the point is that today, Blu Ray players have plummeted in price to the point where you can get a decent one for £60 (they’re a bit like Old Kent Road in that respect) and a really stonking one for just over £100 (cheaper even than Bond Street). Finally, Blu Ray as a format represents value for money.

So, if you’re really rich, you can replace your entire DVD collection with Blu Ray and buy, effectively, the exact same package you bought a few years ago but with improved ‘quality’. Of course, if you are really rich, you probably did that already, or had the servants do it, whatever. If, like me, you’re closer to the “Yes, I know I have to queue up in CEX for three hours just to get series 5 of ‘Friends’ but its only 75p” tax bracket, then re-buying all your favourites again just won’t be a possibility, even if you sell every DVD you’ve ever owned (Math question: how much do you think CEX will buy a DVD for in order to sell it at that price?).

Of course, you don’t have to. Your Blu Ray player will ‘up-scale’ your DVDs for you, re-formatting the pixels into HD and offering you that much more ‘quality’ for no extra charge. I’m all for quality, especially when it doesn’t cost anything.

Now that Blu Ray players have come down in price, this is actually pretty worthwhile. You see, all the while that Blu Ray was £300+, it made no sense whatsoever to spend all that money in the name of ‘quality’. However, now that a top range Blu Ray costs about the same as The Waterworks, you can get all the ‘quality’ you could possibly want, both from your DVDs and from your Blu Rays (which will be a sensible price eventually).

To be honest, the conspiracy theorist in me says that this obsession with ‘quality’ actually stems from the fact that right now Hollywood is churning out woeful, effects laden crap-ola with all the charm of an in-grown toenail and is desperately trying to draw our attention away from that fact. CGI-filled extravaganzas may look great (especially in 3D), but the story is generally awful and the acting even worse. I’m sure ‘Prince Of Persia’ looks wonderful on Blu Ray and has ‘quality’ to spare, but it is still complete and utter arse in any format. ‘Star Trek’ may look great with the Apple iEnterprise, tattooed biker Romulans from the future and all that arty-farty lens flare, but when it comes down to it, does it have the tension of ‘Wrath of Khan’, the intrigue of ‘Undiscovered Country’ or the sheer joy of ‘First Contact’? I think not. This is why you need a machine that up-scales DVDs.

Blu Ray is probably going to succeed DVD as a format and when it does, you’ll be ready for it, but until then, you can watch all your old favourites with the ‘quality’ turned up to 11. There has literally never been a better time to buy Blu Ray.

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