Opinion » Cybernaut


DVDs are crap



Two out of the last three DVDs I’ve rented have had technical problems, dirt and scratches that stopped the movie mid-stream, forcing me to go through an awkward and annoying fast forward and rewind process to get back to the exact spot where things went screwy.

At the drive-in LUNA Flick last Thursday, a showing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Min d, their brand new DVD stopped twice, causing a delay and forcing the organizers to jump to the end of two important chapters.

One of the chapters we missed, the one where Jim Carrey’s character learns that his ex-girlfriend had him erased from her memories, was absolutely critical to understanding the plot – if you didn’t come to the movie with a general idea of what it was about, you would have been lost for the entire first half of the film.

Which brings me to the point of this column – DVDs are crap. So are CDs for that matter, and all the CD-Roms, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs that were foisted on the public as the best thing since pre-sliced bagels.

Not only are they prone to scratches, we also learned recently that discs break down for a number of reasons – oxidation, exposure to sunlight, warping due to incorrect handling, manufacturing flaws, excessive moisture, excessive heat or cold. My brother is still playing records he bought 20 years ago, and I can’t play about 20 of my CDs.

The reason this is so important to complain about now is that the industry is busy fighting over the next DVD format, which is expected to be released next year.

That’s right – after four years DVDs are already on the verge of becoming obsolete as media companies get set to release a new generation of discs that allow up to three times more data storage, allowing them to accommodate high-definition movies. The two formats in contention to become that next generation are the Blu-ray Disc and HD Disc.

The technology companies are even now sucking up to the entertainment companies, which will eventually make the final decision on which format will become the industry standard – there can be only one.

Because most of those entertainment companies are owned by the big technology companies these days, it’s going to be a pitched battle of titans over the next few weeks.

As a consumer, really I don’t think I’m going to leap in and purchase a next generation player. For one thing, it might not be necessary.

In the future, a technology called ultrawideband wireless will make it possible to download entire high definition movies to portable hard drives in under a minute, possibly eliminating the need for discs forever. Why rent a possibly scratched DVD when you can download the entire file at a video store in a matter of seconds?