Back in 2016, I wrote an article about 4K Blu-ray disc players and how I wanted one. That was five years ago and the article still holds up. Here’s the best part of it… my characterization of the “phases” of home theater ownership. I’ll quote it below if you don’t want to click on the article link.
Early Adopter This is that period when things are evolving fast and people pay a lot of money for stuff.
Mainstream The technology has reached public awareness and while still expensive, people pay for the quality they want.
Economy of Scale The technology is popular enough that the factories are paid for so prices drop quickly.
Good Enough The technology is mature and people are willing to accept slightly lower quality for an extremely low price.
Obsolete The technology is no longer interesting and it begins to disappear.
Graybeard The technology is only interesting to people who hold onto things for a long time. Prices actually rise because of scarcity.
I guess when you look at UltraHD Blu-ray Disc, you have to add another period for some technology… “Never-was.” This is when the tech really never enters the mainstream and it flourishes only in the minds and hearts of a small group.
4K Blu-ray never really “hit” but it’s still out there
You can find a 4K Blu-ray player if you want one. I think they are still made, or at least they were until recently. Movies are still released in the format. But, as I predicted, folks in the mainstream don’t really care. I am willing to bet that the quality is absolutely killer, especially on newer discs.
People don’t really go for physical media anymore. Everyone knows at some level that the quality of 4K streams isn’t as good as it could be. But it is good, and it’s definitely good enough if you have a TV smaller than 75″.
We no longer judge each other by our physical media
The time has come when we just don’t judge each other that way. In generations past, you would go to someone’s home and furtively glance at their bookshelves or record cabinets. The titles you saw helped you form an image of the person you were visiting. You found out about their tastes, perhaps even their politics. The upkeep and organization of their collection helped them score points in your eyes. And of course, if there was a literal wall filled with vinyl, you knew you were in the home of a connoisseur.
Of course, that was a vastly different world. We no longer to to specific rooms to listen to music or watch movies. We take it all with us whenever we want to. And we have spontaneous conversations in different people in different ways. We share our playlists or publish our opinions online. It’s the same conversation, it’s the same way of showing your opinions through your choices, but it’s done in a completely different way. And for the most part, that way isn’t compatible with physical media.
It was all a mirage anyway
For those who lament the idea of “owning” physical media, here’s a rude awakening. Ever since the days of CDs, you’ve only had a “license” to use physical media. You haven’t owned it, not really. It’s hard to find the terms and conditions on most discs, but if you dig, you’ll find that most digital physical media is merely a license to use the computer code you have. It was never yours to begin with.
If you can wrap your head around that, it becomes easier to get past that physical media, and say goodbye to it forever.