Happy New Year

January 1, 2008


With 2007 behind us I wanted to take a look back at some of the events of last year and look forward to what 2008 has in store. Without a doubt the most important A/V trend of 2007 continued to be 1080p. Whether it was sources or displays, 1080p was everywhere and by the end of the year, it was as if 720p was a distant memory in certain circles. I suppose the biggest difference from 2006’s onslaught of 1080p displays was the push toward 120hz capable displays for even smoother motion reproduction.

It’s hard to talk about 1080p without mentioning Blu-ray and HD DVD, after all a brand spanking new 1080p display without the proper content is like a new car with an empty gas tank (I started to make a drunk celebrity reference but some of you may be nursing a hangover as we speak). Both Blu-ray and HD DVD made strides toward wider consumer acceptance with bigger titles and cheaper hardware prices, but with the current sales volume (of both formats combined) at a mere fraction of DVD sales; it’s still anyone’s guess as to who’ll come out on top. Or is it?

Looking forward it’s obvious 1080p displays with super fast refresh rates are here to stay, that much you can take to the bank, the whole Blu-ray HD DVD thing is another matter altogether though. That said I’m going to break with an earlier prediction and say that we just might see an end (more importantly a beginning to the end) to this debacle sometime in 2008, perhaps as early as next Monday. That’s right next Monday marks the start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Nevada.

Now the show could very well come and go without the kind of announcement that would signal an end to one of the HD disc formats, but the chatter from the grapevine would seem to indicate otherwise. Note: the “grapevine” didn’t see Paramount dropping Blu-ray coming either. Barring some sort of bombshell of an announcement from CES or CEDIA 2008 we’re probably looking at next holiday season as our next best shot at closure on the format war and if that’s the case the real winner may be the manufacturers who opted to make dual-format players.

What else is on the horizon for audio and video equipment in 2008? Well this might come as a bit of a surprise but it may be something that’s been long needed in the industry, a return to quality. We’ve all seen the mad dash to insert-number-here price points by the major Japanese and Chinese electronic manufacturers in the last few years, but some of those very same manufacturers are keenly aware that price is but one factor that goes into the final purchase decision. To paraphrase, a representative of a major flat-panel manufacturer at CEDIA last year, “we’re tired of slumming, we want to go after the guy that can see a difference and is willing to pay for it”.

My biggest prediction for 2008 is that no matter who comes out on top in the format war or what company or technology grabs the lion’s share of the display market, we’re going to be the real winners. Home theater enthusiasts have never had it so good, HUGE bright, clear displays, quality source equipment and software has never been this affordable. Have a happy and safe new year.

–edit– 01/04/08 — well that was fast, Warner dropped the bomb before the show even opened.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Commentary