When I joined SFX way back in 2000, one of the first things I did in my new role as their Staff Writer was to buy one of those newfangled DVD player thingamajigs.
It was obvious after only a few days on the magazine that videos were on their way out and DVDs were the way to go, something I hadn’t even thought about in my previous job working for flower company Suttons Seeds (where I lent Buffy episodes to half the workforce by way of spreading the Good Word, all of them on rickety VHS tapes). If I was to be expected to watch review discs and, more importantly, brush up on my back catalogue of films and TV shows in order to know what the heck I was writing about every day, I needed the latest technology to do it.
That first DVD player cost me a whopping £199.99. It played Region 2 DVDs and absolutely nothing else. It was huge. The remote control was fugly. It lasted for only five years, and then I had to buy another, which thankfully played Region 2 and Region 1 discs, although absolutely nothing else, and was only a little less boxy and space-filling. That one cost me £79.99.
I had to buy a new DVD player this month after that one went pffffft (I guess I must wear them out). My new player is sleek, smooth and pretty. The remote is lovely. It plays every region on the planet, Mpegs, Jpegs and every other format I can think of.
And it only cost me £39.99.
There’s something fundamentally wrong about technology getting so much better and yet costing less, as though the laws of the universe have stopped applying to economics. Except you just have to think of two words – “Blu” and “Ray” – and you have your explanation.
I guess I should be looking into buying a Blu-ray machine, but my new DVD player has HDMI upscaling to make my DVDs HD-pretty and I can’t afford to spend over £200 on a Blu-ray player, so I’ll just wait eight years and buy one for £40, thank you.
Now there’s progress.