Eight Reasons Why I'm Sticking With DVDs And Blu-Rays, Dammit

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Physical entertainment is on its last legs -- and they're getting gammier by the month. Before we know it, DVDs and Blu-rays will have gone the way of LaserDisc and VHS tape. To the streamers and torrenters of the world this will be viewed as no big loss: they think it's an obsolete format that's overpriced, prone to scratches and less convenient than digital downloads.

But not me. Here's why I'm sticking with discs to the bitter end, and why you should too. (Also, get off my lawn.)

#1 There's more variety at the store

When it comes to movie choice, even the most prolific streaming service can't hope to compete with a JB Hi-Fi or video rental store. (Yes, there are still a few of those around, believe it or not.) On multiple occasions, I've felt a hankering to watch a certain film, only to find it unavailable on any of Australia's main streaming services. This is especially true if you enjoy pre-1980s cinema, foreign movies or anything in black and white.

The same goes for torrenting -- while you won't have any trouble finding the latest blockbuster in 1080p (you filthy pirate), pristine copies of more obscure fare can be trickier to track down. When physical media disappears, a lot of movies of middling popularity will go with it.

#2 There's less variety in your lounge room

The problem with streaming services is that you don't get to build your own bespoke collection and the choice can be overwhelming. More often than not, instead of actually watching something you mindlessly surf the catalogue for an hour and then head to bed. (Maybe that's what popularised 'Netflix-and-chill'?) With physical media, you know exactly what you own and it's subsequently much easier to choose what you want to watch. There's no crap or filler; just stuff you own by choice.

#3 You own what you pay for

When you subscribe to Netflix, Stan and the like, you're paying for the service -- not the movies. Obviously, cancelling your membership cuts off access to the entire catalogue, but movies also disappear from the roster due to expired licensing or to make room for new titles. In short, you can never guarantee that a movie you love will stick around for long.

With physical media, the copy is yours to keep and nobody can take it away from you. Provided you have access to working equipment, the discs will be available to watch forever.

#4 Special features a-go-go!

For whatever reason, streaming services have shied away from including special features for movies and TV shows. If you're lucky, you might get a trailer and a perfunctory making-of, but that's about it. By contrast, DVDs and Blu-rays typically come packed to the gills with supplementary material: everything from audio commentaries and in-depth documentaries to concept artwork and onset photography. For film buffs, this stuff is like catnip.

For proof, just look at the Extended Editions of The Lord Of The Rings: the extras are arguably more enthralling than the actual movies, especially if you have an interest in film making. On Google Play, iTunes and Aussie streaming services, you don't get any of this stuff. Tch.

#5 You get to display them

For movie fans in the '80s and '90s, displaying your library was a big part of the appeal in being a collector. Like a book shelf, it revealed what you were into, enticed guests to browse what you owned and let you silently brag about the size of your collection. In a purely digital world, all that is gone. Sure, it frees up a ton of space in your lounge room, but part of your identity is now hidden online.

#6 Guaranteed quality

An officially produced DVD or Blu-ray will always look and sound top-notch. While extreme videophiles might complain about certain transfers, it's nothing the average viewer is going to notice. Anyone who has torrented content illegally can attest to the hit-and-miss nature of sites like The Pirate Bay. Even legit services like Netflix are entirely dependent on internet speed -- with video quality dipping accordingly.

#7 There's no proprietary bullshit

iTunes movie downloads can only be viewed via your iTunes account. Streaming services require online connectivity to the app. And so on and so forth. If you're a serious movie fan, your collection is probably spread across several digital platforms -- none of which are compatible with each other. To play physical media, all you need is a single region-free Blu-ray player. Simples!

#8 It stops you being a fat lazy jerk

If you've moved exclusively to streaming, try going back to DVDs. I guarantee you will now hate getting off your arse to insert and swap over discs. This is something that you used to do without even thinking. Like the TV remote before it, the convenience of streaming is turning us all into extreme couch potatoes. Pretty soon, we'll all look like those sentient blobs from Wall-E.


So, am I alone here? Does anyone else prefer ye olde discs to digital services? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Comments

    An officially produced DVD or Blu-ray will always look and sound top-notch.

    I'm sorry but that's patently not true and I'm certainly not an extreme videophile (what ever that is) I have in my collection a large number of major hit releases that have had terrible digital transfers that look as though they have been reproduced from tape and I'm talking about Blu-ray here. Don't get me started on how bad most DVDs now look.

    I might also point out the obvious here and that is iTunes have a much larger movie library than most video stores ever had. I will more often look there first before ever considering disks.

    Last edited 11/10/16 4:57 pm

      I haven't seen an awful bluray in a long time. Those I had seen were usually older titles that were quickly tick and flick converted from DVD, while the DVD itself was probably a shitty VHS transfer (looking at you, cruel intentions).

      I have Force Awakens on bluray, and it came with the iTunes version for free. Goddamn does the iTunes version have the most awful black crush I've ever seen, most movies I've pirated in HD in the past look better than iTunes HD. Plus the audio track on the iTunes version is terrible.

      Last edited 12/10/16 7:24 am

      These poor transfers are how old? Whilst it is true that many early DVD transfers were quite bad, these days I doubt you could buy anything that wasn't top notch.

      Regardless, it's likely that a download will look worse than a physical copy for a few reasons.

      Illegal downloads are likely to be transferred from store-bought physical media anyway, meaning the copy can at best look as good as the original.

      Legal downloads are usually made from the same master as the physical media, so if the issue was with the original film transfer, it's likely a legal download is going to have similar quality issues.

    I'm with you Chris and the rest of us Dinosaurs (apologies if you don't consider yourself a Dinosaur)!!!

      Yeah totally agree, I know it makes me sound old but I really don't see the point in buying a digital copy of something when a physical copy is available for the same price.

      I am happy to spend money on services like Netflix but would not buy a digital copy of anything while physical copies are available.

    I'm with you!
    And I have to say... I still love getting blu-rays on quickflix... because when they arrive, they're the movie I've wanted to watch, and will actually sit down and watch them. I've got films ripped on HDD and never get around to watching them because I can never decide what to watch.

    I think you can have both. DVDs are great for your favourite movies that you want to watch over and over. They are also good for movies that are older (or rare) and that are not available on streaming services. But streaming is still good for newer movies and when you just want to be lazy and stay home or to check out a movie before you buy it. It's great for finding new movies too. I've watched a ton of movies on Netflix/Stan that I would never have bought but ended up liking. The opposite is probably true too, I've probably saved some money by watching movies through Netflix rather than buying them, because they have ended up being crap.

    I still buy new discs, however I would say netflix has made me more discerning on what I buy. It has to be something I really want to own and will watch over and over. In the past I used to "build a collection" and I might only watch a disc a handful of times. Netflix has stopped that.

    #7 There’s no proprietary bullshit

    Yeah there is - Bluray is full of proprietary crap - just try playing a BD on Linux, it's more doable in the last couple of years, but there is still discs that will flip out because of the DRM components of it not playing nicely.

      But at least Bluray is an industry standard, albeit a proprietary one.

    The choice of both options is what I like best!

    When 4K comes out, You'll need to upgrade to get better quality (if watching big screen). With streaming, you don't.

    If the media gets scratched, you own nothing but a bit of plastic. Streaming (as you said) lasts as long as you subscribe.

    DVD and BluRay have lots of bs to skip through (copyright, trailers, etc). Even if you make a coffee, it's still not ready when you get back.

    It's easier to navigate a large electronic collection than it is to sift through hundreds of BluRays.

    If you electronically purchase, you are locked into a vendor (Apple, etc). You also usually don't get 1080p DTS and it's DRM locked. It's no better than media (you are still shackled).

    For my species of dinosaur, there's no ideal option. I don't own anything except plastic and it can easily be lost or ruined. I'm also not paying for a re-code again (VHS to DVD to BluRay). 4K is something I won't pay for with my existing titles.

      I would be extremely surprised if 4k was of higher quality than Blu-Ray. The number of pixels is largely irrelevant, compression has a much bigger effect on what you are viewing. I would rather watch uncompressed SD than compressed 4k.

      4k is nothing more than a marketing con. Have you ever walked out of a cinema and complained about the picture quality? Would it surprise you to know that 2k is the digital standard for film work? Sometimes they'll scan something in 3k or 4k so they can do special effects in post-production but film is generally scanned at 2k, edited and graded, then put back onto film. Digital cinema projectors are all 2k. If it's good enough for 30m wide screen, why would you need more on your home TV?

        If you'd rather watch uncompressed SD than 4K then you're a sucker for punishment. SD is SD and 4K is 4K. 4K is extremely clear and vibrant and of very good quality and SD isn't. The amount of pixels isn't irrelevant, it's the opposite of that and if all you have is cataracts and a 30cm screen then I guess no big deal.

    I'm sticking to dvds/blu ray if I like a movie that much. Otherwise, it's streaming for me...

    I still have a heap of movies on DVD, to be honest, I should get rid of them. I just don't sit down and watch non HD content, and as the quality of my TV gets better, while the size gets bigger, anything sub 1080 is pretty meh.

    However I still haven't, and at this point doubt I will ever buy a digital movie. I don't like the vagueness in owning/licencing while bluray quality is always superior in both video and audio. I really don't think the digital product is cheap enough for the sacrifices, and in many cases the physical product is cheaper.

    Renting though? Well I'm not mail ordering or using redbox, Netflix is just cheap and easy. Choice can be overwhelming, but I can remember spending half an hour or so deciding what to hire in the video store anyway, so it's not really any different.

      I find it much harder to find something to watch online, as opposed to in a store.

        But what store? I couldn't tell you where a Blockbuster or Video Ezy is anymore. If you use a redbox, flicking through the menu is just like a shittier version of Netflix except you're standing outside Coles or Woolworths.

    With kids in the house, I'm lucky if a DVD last 6 months. With my broadband at 3.5Mbps and 4 internet users, streaming is useless. I can get a couple of hundred movies on a 1Tb disk, so it's a no-brainer.

    Aside from having them on display, just about all of these issues are solved by joining a private tracker like ptp or HD Torrents.
    Sure, there is never a guarantee that an obscure title from the 70s will be there but the collection (at least on HD-Torrents) is better than the combined catalogues of the big 3 streaming options in Australia.
    I'm right there with you on the issue of quality. My tracker generally has an option of a 720p or 1080p encode or a 1:1 duplicate of the original release (if you can spare the 30-40gb in your data) so there's no loss in quality compared to the store bought disk.
    Netflix even on its highest stream speed looks awful. The 1080p looks somewhere between 576 and 720p and buffers more than I've ever seen. The colour banding is what really makes it unwatchable for me.
    In terms of longevity, disks get scratched and lost (especially if you're as unorganised as I am.) and of course hard drives fail. (I lost 3.4tb of movies midway through last year)
    But I can (and do) have a duplicate hard drive automatically updated to back up every movie or show I download and even if they both fail, it will be a day of searching and a week of downloading to replace them all.
    They're well organised, automatically picked up and sorted into genre, show, season, etc by my htpc to stream to TV at any time without me having to pause downloads, change disks, or anything.
    Show downloaded are automated and shown in a new additions section to easily watch all the newest additions to my collection and if I want to know who's on screen and where I've seen that actor before, it's as simple as one button to bring up the IMDb page over the top right there on my TV.

    Having said all this, I also have 12" and CDs on display around my place so I understand the want for physical copies and that feeling of holding the real thing in your hand and reading the little books that once came with just about every CD you could buy.
    I guess just use whichever medium makes you happy. That's the reason we consume it anyway

      My issue with private trackers is the requirement of guaranteed seeding. Sure call me a dirty leecher, but people aren't sued for downloading, they're sued for uploading. I also lost a hard drive I had duplicated, and personally I realised I don't really care if I lose pirated content, and don't need to keep so much of it around. The vast majority was deleted with anything I kept mostly being stuff I physically own, and no backup. All I care about backing up is my photo's and documents.

      Last edited 12/10/16 2:36 pm

        Yeah, that was always an issue for me until I used a session for about a month a couple of years ago. J think I spent about 12 dollars for 2 months and uploaded about 5.5tb. I'm almost in ratio trouble again now but when that happens I'll just have to repeat the process. It was a bit of effort to hit 5.5 in 2 months. I think I had a BluRay remix of Fury that was about 45gb and I was uploading about 60mb a second for a few days

      As long as you hold your DVDs by the edges, they will never get scratched, and the hard copy will last your whole life. Ignore those who talk about DVD "shelf life" too - I am yet to encounter a self-burned DVD that has deteriorated and won't work, let alone a manufactured/retail DVD.

      HDDs on the other hand - are simply prone to fail. Pay extra for backups, pay extra for RAID arrays, pay extra for cloud services... take your pick, but they all involve paying extra to mitigate long term risk.

      Last edited 19/01/18 3:04 pm

    I still buy DVDs as I don't have the money to buy unlimited internet as where I live (a regional area) it is more expensive than it is in other areas. Also internet speeds as they currently stand are not fast enough to stop buffering on large files such as movies.

    I also agree with the point about streaming services getting rid of titles for being another reason to still keep buying DVDs. I am a fan of classic films and they can be very hard to find on streaming services and having the choice of movies I know will watch again and again is great.

    "The vessel with the pestle has the potion with the poison"
    When trying to explain this to someone, I needed a copy of Danny Kaye's Court Jester.
    Youtube was one possibility, another was bittorrent.

      But the chalice from the palace holds the brew that is true!

    I stopped wasting my money on DVDs years ago. Best move I ever made. Buying a DVD and then watching it once or twice then throwing into the pile with the rest of them is a habit nobody should have.

    I watch a bit of catch-up TV but online streaming services have never had any appeal to me. My problem is that if I can watch something any time I want to, I will always have something better to do.

    It also affects me with the DVDs and Blu-Rays I buy. I would be surprised if I have watched half of them but at least when I come back from JB on a Saturday arvo with 3 for $0, I can be pretty confident that I'll watch one of them that weekend. After that, though, it could be six months before I get time for the others. I bought Amelie and Once Were Warriors about 8 years ago and I still haven't found the time to watch either, even though I know both are terrific films that I'll enjoy.

    If I signed up for Netflix, I'd watch something straight away but in the rest of my free first month, I doubt I'd watch anything else, so I just haven't bothered. OTOH, I can spend money today on a DVD and I know I will eventually get around to it so it's not dead money like streaming would be.

    I got rid of most of my physical media collections.
    I realised I spent lots of money on movies I usually only watch once.
    They were taking up a huge amount of space in the lounge and looked tacky.
    I don't know of any video stores near my house that I can rent from, so I would have to buy physical media. Why would I pay $20-$40 for a disc that would get watched once or twice and spend most of its time taking up space? If it's not part of a subscription streaming service I have, then I would pay $6 to rent it via streaming. I would have to watch every movie over 3x to make it cheaper to buy physical media. Some movies, that maybe the case, but for most, it's not.
    I also did the same with my music collection. I was buying CD's, then ripping them to play. They never actually got played as CDs and my phone had no chance of holding my collection. I now use streaming services that give me a massive collection wherever I am.
    My laptop has no physical media drive. I have no physical media device in my bedroom or office, but I have streaming devices in both. I can stream any music, or movie in any room, or even out of my house on my phone.

    I like to watch TV.

    Chris, do you realise how hard it is to get off the couch and put a DVD or Blu Ray or CD in the player and then go back to the couch, pick up the remote and press play? Man, I am not mentioning the fact about choosing something off the pile of stuff on the floor what to play. Gawd, I feel knackered, Maybe you should think twice before you think some of us are plain lazy. I wish this couch had a toilet built in.

    With a CD/DVD/Bluray you can make back ups of them and make digital copies of your physical media.

    1. ROARRR!
    2. Still have Cassettes and VHS tapes.
    3. Vinyl :-)
    4.CDs
    5.DVDs
    6."Offline" games that just work.

      Don't even get my started on games. Bought GTA V for PC on launch day to play the offline single player and was forced to download ~8GB of downloads. Problem was, my internet connection was pretty lousy at the time (hence the reason I bought it on disc, derp) and the update package was full of bugs.

      After around 6 months of intermittently trying to download the updates, I was finally able to launch the game I paid $90 for - only to find that it was full of issues that rendered it unplayable on my particular system.

    100% agree with you Chris, You certainly cannot beat BluRay or the average disc. I admit sometimes I usb a movie and if it meets my satisfaction will buy it as streaming was a novelty at first but came to realize that there is much more in a DVD only the easily pleased with not much taste for QUALITY would have to prefer streaming. This week I just bought "Season 4 Banshee" and "Sweeny in Paris" with Jean Reno and quality was much better.

    I disagree with much of what you have claimed in your article. First off, hard copies can and most likely will scratch over time and eventually start to skip (I had tons of them that I could no longer watch). I've never once watched a digital copy whether purchased on itunes or watched on Netflix that lagged or skipped by any means. And, I hate to inform you that technology is changing and all those disc you are still using and collecting will eventually become obsolete. You can argue this all you want but it's true none the less, that's just the way technology works. I worked at rogers video for 10 yrs while in high-school and college. I was there from the time DVD's were first being introduced and VHS movies became less and less till eventually they weren't carried at the store at all. Then we saw a decline in DVD's when blue rays became more popular. And then eventually stopped carrying movies all together and became a cellphone store only. But the MOST IMPORTANT thing that people who still buy DVD's/CD's and Blue rays need to be aware of is the EFFECTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT. Take a minute and ponder how much new "Virgin" plastic is used to create the discs, cases and plastic wrappings. I tell you right now it's a sh*t load. And think about many resources are used to ship and make them? Yeah, that's a lot too. And FYI they CANNOT be recycled! There are to many layers of different types of plastics and other materials, some of which are actually TOXIC for your health. Yup, you toss them in the garbage where they then end up in a landfill or the ocean and never ever decompose. They might break into smaller pieces but plastic NEVER entirely decomposes. So I say kick your "old-school" way of thinking to the curb and get with the times we live in a digital world, embrace it.

    I still use it as I don't undyhow to use digital other than iTunes.. am not wanting to and don't trust the service providers a bit ..

    People who stream forget those who live with limited or no internet in rural areas, no point in paying for something you don't use.
    With a physical copy it's there when you want it, no waiting.

    I don't know how anyone can say DVDs are overpriced when they are generally cheaper than streaming and you can watch a copy as many times as you like - and lend/sell/give to charity afterwards. Its streaming that is overpriced!

    three main reason i prefer disc apposed to streaming.
    With disc, you simply play it and have the tendency to watch the film all the way through, with streaming its all too over whelming to constantly be tempted to search for something even better than what you just started watching, so you stop the film before the best bits happen and search the online catalog again wasting time.

    With disc you pay for the physical product for keeps, but with online streaming, I would feel like im spending more than i need to for a subscription if i only watch a film once a month or so.
    We are not all couch potatoes, watching as many films as we can per night, for some of us watching a film is an event when we have nothing better to do. dont let the screen rule your life. So i for one will never become a subscriber and will rather stick to renting or buying discs.

    the 3rd reason i don't like online stuff, is because the plug can be pulled at any time, ie. moving house only to find that the internet is too slow, web streaming sites deleting films, even no longer being able to afford to pay for high speed broadband (thats not me yet) but theres many who can't afford services and prefer to buy as and when you can afford to treat yourself.

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