I didn’t even have surround sound at home for a long time. Then I started working with a company reviewing movies and started doing DVD reviews that required a better sound system. So I bought my first surround sound system. Of course, if the disc was not set up for surround sound properly (which many of them at the time weren’t), I couldn’t tell a difference.
But when I did start listening to DVDs that had the surround sound systems separated out, I found that there was a huge difference. The sound was dynamic, and often times it issued from different speakers that correlated to positions of characters and sounds taking place onscreen. Suddenly, it was like being in a theater.
Then high-resolution monitors arrived on the market. Being a lover of technology, but also frugal, I waited till the prices dropped, then picked up a 27-inch widescreen monitor. The video resolution difference was astounding. I felt as though I had spent my money wisely.
Initially, I had purchased the monitor for my wife. She loves watching football. I put the new monitor in the bedroom so she could watch her games in peace (relatively speaking, of course, we have kids so peace is a mythical thing in our house). I didn’t realize that those games were broadcast in high definition. When I watched a few of the games with her, I realized the DVDs I’d been watching would look great on that monitor.
They did. And that fact opened negotiations regarding television-viewing privileges on any given night. Well, on any night that wasn’t a football night.
Then we got the HD DVD and Blu-ray players. The difference in viewing pleasure was immense. Not only that, but the sound through the surround sound system was improved.
To me, it didn’t matter if a movie came out on either format. I had it covered. I had both players. But when friends came to me and asked me which player they should buy, I had different answers. If they wanted to spend less money, I’d tell them to go with the HD DVD player. If they were heavy gamers, I told them to hold out for the PlayStation 3 which came with a Blu-ray player. After all, all the big movies at the time seemed to be coming out on both formats.
Then the player manufacturers started to get more aggressive, just like the video game console people. They informed the movie studios that it was no longer cool to have a successful property on both formats (or on all three formats in the video game industry). The player corporations wanted the studios to commit to one format or the other.