High-def Format Wars, Animated Cats, and the PS3

At this moment in time, it looks like Blu-ray has a leg up in the high-definition video format wars, particularly with news that Time-Warner had decided to switch to the format, and rumors afoot at CES that Universal and Paramount may soon follow. That said, I suspect all of us would rather declare somebody the winner so we could all enjoy better-looking movies at home without worrying we bought into the wrong format.

In addition to the “big war” of HD-Video vs. Blu-ray, however, it turns out that the manufacturers, in their wisdom, have also added a bunch of new interactivity features to each format—and now there’s concern that disks designed to use the features specified by the later “Profile 1.1” or “Profile 2.0” version of the Blu-ray format won’t work properly on players built around the earlier version of that spec.

Two things struck me about that article. First off, it’s apparently a good idea to buy a player which can be upgraded by flashing the firmware to add new capabilities. (I’d claim to be prescient in this regard, but to be honest, I really bought my PS3 to play Guitar Hero III and Rock Band—Blu-ray movie support was just a nice extra for me when making the purchase decision).

The second was how fantastically unexcited I am about the Java-based “interactivity” features which both the Blu-ray and HD-Video camps are willing to risk so much market confusion over. In my life, I have a pretty much perfect record of regretting the minutes I’ve spent with any client-side Java application, whether it involves animated cats jumping around in my browser, or some “interactive” feature launched by pressing the wrong button on my TV’s remote control. It’s always possible that someone will come up with an application which makes us all into believers on this score, but I haven’t seen it yet. I hate to say it, but when I’m watching a movie, I pretty much want to…well, just watch the movie. Sound and picture matter a lot to me when I do that. Interactive jumping cats…not so much.

But hey, since I’m currently doing my high-def movie-watching on a PS3, I guess I’ll likely be able to get my bouncing cats too. Yay.

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