You could wait...and miss the experience
I have a good friend who is about to jump into HD. Amazingly, he doesn't have any DVDs! Why? Because he heard about this coming "HD thing" a few years ago and decided it would be a waste of money to buy DVDs only to have to replace them all with "HD" versions. I guess he got stung with a big record collection...then 8-tracks...then cassettes...then CDs.
But he hasn't watched a DVD movie at home for...forever! The only movies he's seen are in the theater or when they come out on cable, in NTSC format. In our economic class/culture, that's pretty amazing, especially since we both work in software in Silicon Valley and you'd think we're the demographic who goes for all this bleeding edge stuff.
My point is that while you could sit on the fence and wait for a shakeout in the HD disc wars, or wait longer until all content is available over your networks (cable/disk/internet), you'll be missing out on experiences available now. And, as the kids say, "It's all good!"
For the folk who are weighing the cost/benefit of specific choices, I get that, but also consider the "opportunity cost". If your current equipment (NTSC/DVD) serves you well there's no _need_ to upgrade, but if you're on the fence about HD-DVD or Blue-Ray, or sitting it out because there will be something better coming soon, then you owe it another think. How long are you willing to wait? How much will you defer and for how long? 5 years? 10 years?
I see people claiming $100 HD disc players coming in the fall and current formats being obsolete in "2-3 years". That's not real. The prices fell to 1/2 their start as the wealthy, "gotta have it" early adopters were all saturated. But as the volume goes up, there's no pressure to drop the prices. Look at HD displays. By the $100 player logic we should have $600 42" plasma displays by now. And while there are displays that will play "2XHD" (2160p), they're just technology showcases, suited for computer displays only. They're the "show cars" of the industry. No need to rush them to production, there's plenty of product in the pipeline and a market that isn't close to being saturated. So it will be more like 7-10 years before the next major format upgrade that will require you to replace your content again. I'll go out on a limb and say that at that time the main thing you'll get back in the Next Big Revolution is shelf space, because all your movies will be inside the box...somewhere on the network.
What we will see is incremental improvement in features and size and speed. All the usual technology stuff. And that's always changing. How long did you defer a computer upgrade because the next Intel chip was going to be XX percent faster? Or a bigger hard disk was due out next year? And when do you think they'll settle this Mac/PC format thing so I can buy just one computer?
Will you be able to sell your used player on the market to help offset the cost of the new one because you just have to have HDMI 1.3 and your old player "only" does 1.2? Of course. Will there be someone to buy your 1080i set when you want to signal match to your 1080p player? Certainly, just look at craigslist. To put it another way, did you buy a Dolby 2.1 receiver then a 5.1? Then a 6.1, 7.1? With component, then optical, then HDMI (I skipped one format in there...)? You probably didn't.
I went from a used 20" tube TV to a new 27" after six years. The 27" lasted 13 years. Did I feel compelled to upgrade again and again to 32", 37", 46" along the way? Of course not. But I'm not watching black and white TV either, and I'm not watching VHS tapes any more. The jump to HD discs--along with a proportionally larger screen for the viewing distance--is just as great a change in the experience of viewing as was a 20" TV with VHS going to 27" TV and a DVD player and 2.1 sound.
Sure I'm used to it now but would I go back? Hmm.. let me go into the kid's room. Power up the 27". Pop in a Barney tape... Nope. Ain't going back.
Look at the forums. Has anyone said, "After upgrading to an HD disc player and HD screen I regret I spent the money, because it just isn't any better than my DVDs and NTSC tube TV"? I don't think there are.
There are some who predict they won't like it any better, but that's not the same criticism. You have to take that, "I know it isn't better than what I have now" attitude with the same grain of salt of someone who just spent a big chunk of cash and _everything_ is better. Their broadcast TV and DVDs look better on the new HD screen and HD player. And their dishes are cleaner and laundry is whiter! It may seem that way to them, but they're also re-enforcing to themselves that they made a good choice. But that's another thread.
As one last analogy, I have never come away from the optometrist's office with a new prescription and said, "Eh. Looks about the same." I've always come away with a palm print on my forehead thinking, "Sheesh! It looks better! Why didn't I go in earlier?"
So, in summary, I say this: Jump on the technology merry-go-round, and enjoy the ride. Look at all the fun the other folk are having! You can always trade horses once you're on board. Why miss out if you have the means to get a ticket?
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