Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How Do You Own Disorder?

I really shouldn't have to tell you people this, but apparently my particular brand of common sense doesn't come so readily to everyone: Quit buying things you don't want or need. To be a little more clear, just because something is cool and trendy and popular doesn't mean you want it. That's something you should decide after thinking about this hot new item. Remember thinking? It's back, and it's groovier than ever. Try it. Remember, thinking should come before buying.

My beef (for today's blog post, at least) is with "High Definition." Let's start with HDTVs.

You don't need one. First of all, can you really tell the difference between standard definition and high definition? I'm not saying that there is no difference; just that most people are not sensitive enough to television picture quality to justify the added expense of an HDTV. As a freaky geek, I do notice such things quite readily, and, honestly, standard definition TVs look better in many cases. There are times when HD is undoubtedly better, but generally it either looks similar or worse. Your computer monitor is "HD." This is good because you sit right by it and need to be able to make out fine details like little words. This paragraph would be tough to read on a standard definition TV, but you know what? That's okay. Most people sit across the room from their TVs. The minor blur gives the picture a more organic look. Video games, especially, benefit from having their harsh digital edges smoothed out.

The other thing is that so many people who have HDTVs don't know how to use them. They don't buy the right cables, the don't set the TV up correctly, and they don't have access to HD content, all of which invariably mean the picture looks worse than it would if they would just use a regular TV. I love people watching low-resolution, stretched-out shows, remarking about how great their new LSD flat screen is. People buying things they don't need and that they don't understand. God bless capitalism.

Worse still are HD-DVDs and BluRay Discs. The progression from VHS to DVD was meaningful. While DVDs have their problems, compared to VHS cassettes they tend to have significantly superior picture and audio quality, they're cheap to produce, they take up less space, they don't wear out due to normal usage, and they have enough capacity to hold a full movie and an assortment of bonus features. When was the last time you saw a VHS with director's commentary?

HD-DVDs and BluRay Discs have... slightly better resolution than DVDs, which is unnecessary, since DVDs are pretty much the only things that look decent on an HDTV. Oh well, at least the discs and their players are more expensive than DVDs, and the selection of available movies is smaller. Hmm. Still, the great thing about HD and BluRay is that they have far more capacity than DVDs, so we can have... commentary on director's commentary? Really fancy interactive menus.

HD-DVDs aren't really around anymore. For a while, there was a lot of talk amongst people who care about such things over whether HD-DVDs would win, or BluRay. The manufacturer (I can't remember who it was) of HD-DVDs soon gave up the fight, and people started telling me that BluRay had won. I was confused. The only definitive conclusion I had reached was that HD-DVD had lost. BluRay, I argued, simply hadn't lost yet. If there was any winner, it was the DVD.

That was several years ago, and so far, I've been right. Do you know anyone who watches BluRays? What's the point? Sony keeps insisting, even now, that sales of the PlayStation 3 are going to explode any day now and surpass the Wii because the PlayStation 3 has a built in BluRay player, and that's what people really want.

In this case, BluRay provides us with a fine example of what we should continue doing - not buying inferior, worthless things that we don't want. For those of you who did get suckered into an HDTV, can I ask: Why?


nicole. said...

i have two hdtv's at home. we have hd satellite and my mom and i always notice better quality. i don't know, we're weird.

Anonymous said...

Can we agree to disagree?

People should not quit buying what they don't want or need. If they don't want it, plain and simple - they are not going to buy it. Unless someone puts a gun to their head and forces them to make a purchase. I haven't heard of anyone being forced to purchase an HDTV at gunpoint. Have you? As far as buying something we don't need, everyone's guilty of that.

I perfer the hands-on feeling of playing an original board game, or with a real deck of cards. Part of the enjoyment of Scrabble is the tactile sensation of feeling the letter tiles. As I'm not into shoot 'em up games, I find no pleasure in video versions. When it comes to Wii compatible games, I'd rather take part in the real deal.

So while I respect your viewpoint, I disagree with it. I'll continue to go crazy with an occasional restaurant meal instead of cooking for myself. I'll drive when I need to, and walk when I want to get a little excercise.

I guess my wants and needs are quite OK with me. Yours are OK with me too.

Jake said...

Hmm. Actually, I agree with all of your points except the HDTV, and if you kids are telling me that you genuinely think it's superior (though I stand by belief that CRT is a-okay, and even better), then I can only hope that means that you truly are thinking for yourselves and making decisions based on your opinions, which was my point, anyway.

Getting HDTV and not knowing the difference or not knowing what to do with it is weird, and maybe I've simply come across a skewed sample of HDTV owners.

If Scrabble and Monopoly top your list of quality games, stay far, far away from video games - video board games are awful things, and shooters aren't for everyone, though, interestingly, the common complaint amongst video game enthusiasts is that Wii doesn't have enough shooters. Video game people tend to be insane, myself obvious included.

Everybody wants to move very fast with little effort sometimes. It's fun. Sitting in a different setting and getting foods you wouldn't want to make yourself is without having to make it yourself is clearly desirable.

Still, does anyone want to tell me that BluRay is a good idea?

Jake said...

Thanks for feedback, by the way: this is the sort of discussion that works better when there's someone to defend the opposing side, rather than me just telling the world that it is a stupid place full of dumb idiots.

Aunt Barb said...

Jake, I know you are not a sports fan, but for those of us who live in towns whose team is about to win the Stanley Cup (that would be hockey), when we watch the games in high-def, then switch over to catch some of the (better) commentary on the non-high-def Canadian channel, the picture looks like it's from 1983! The picture is far superior. Same goes for golf, baseball, probably even cage fighting. So you get a big fat disagreement from me on this one. Oh and one more thing: GO WINGS!!!!!!!

Jake said...

Man, it seems the whole world really does love this HD nonsense. Somehow the subject of BluRay came up today at work. I hung back and just listened for most of the conversation, only voicing my opinion when it was winding down, and it was widely agreed that anything high-definition is awesome.

While I fully admit that I'm a crazy person, I still think the world is nuts.

I hope the Stanley Cups get a whole bunch of field goals! Love all!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Aunt Barb, not even HD could help the Dead Wings.

Aunt Barb said...

Hey now, please don't get personal with our Wings...they mean a lot to us "down and out Detroiters"; plus they made it as far as you can before going down. Friday was definitely a sad, sad night in this house. We are still very proud and loyal RED Wings fans