Blu-ray is, without a doubt, one of Sony's most important products in a long time. It's big enough that they took a flagship brand, PlayStation, and turned it into a steward for the new high definition media format. At the Digital Life convention, Sony showed off their own Blu-ray player, the Sony BDP-S1 combined with their mega 70" SXRD KDS-R70XBR2 television.
I managed to watch three separate clips, starting with a trailer for the new animated movie "Open Season". Let's face it, digital animation always looks good and this was no exception. The vibrancy of the colors and the very well defined edges really did their job at impressing lookers on. I quickly gained my composure, though, and waited.
The next clip happened to be a DVD vs Blu-ray comparison of the live action movie "A Knight's Tale". First, let me say that the "DVD" quality, or lack there of, was definitely exaggerated a bit, though I guess that is to be expected in any kind of demonstration like this. The Blu-ray image, though, also didn't seem to fair well. I'm not sure if it was the player or the movie itself, but background details, such as a stone wall, were cluttered with image noise and the clip, as a whole, seemed to lack clarity and visual depth.
The third and final clip seemed to find a balance between the beauty of the first and noise of the second. Shown was a clip from the movie "Into the Blue". In the scene shown, Paul Walker's character is in the water and a boat is whizzing around him. The colors were amazing and the clarity and definition of Paul and all the scenery around him really did their job at grabbing my attention. The water was exceptionally clear and very well detailed. However, image noise seemed to crop up again when the boat whizzed by. The entire side of the boat looked grainy and, compared to the gorgeous details surrounding it, really stood out.
I have to admit that I went in with the thought in mind of trying to be watchful of the smaller details. While it seems as though older movies (such as "A Knight's Tale" ) will never really stand a chance of wowing people, newer movies really do shine when given the 1080p chance. As for the unit itself, it is quite large, though it definitely functions better than the current Samsung unit on the market, the BD-P1000. Chapters loaded quickly and the unit, overall, felt very responsive.
However, with that said, don't commit to either camp, yet. There is really going to be little to no image quality difference between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Witnessing both at the show (minus the Toshiba 1080p capable HD-XA2, which was M.I.A.), one could tell that the image quality difference came down to the beautiful television Sony was displaying the image on and not the formats themselves. The BDP-S1 simply enters the market at a time when Blu-ray really needs a quality unit (Samsung BDP-1000 is riddled with flaws). If you are going to ignore my advice and take the Blu-ray plunge anyway, keep the BDP-S1 on your list and cross out that Samsung. It's a big unit, but there's a lot of quality inside.
Image: Sony BDP-S1