The day after Thanksgiving is always chaotic around our house. On Thanksgiving evening Trina and I sit down with the newspaper and plot our plan of attack. You see Trina is the queen of the door busters. If it is possible to save three cents by standing in line for four hours you can bet that it makes the list..I am slightly more pragmatic than that. Unless it is electronic, a new gadget, or something to do with the Diamondbacks I probably don’t care. So as Trina was going through the stack of newspapers trying to find someone who had socks for a quarter I sat there motionless trying to appear interested. One store that Trina had on her list was Best Buy. I love Best Buy. There is just enough technology there to keep me interested and I just love going in there and making the Geek Squad feel like idiots (which by the way isn’t really that hard since most of these guys have only gotten through the first chapter of the Owner’s Manual for any piece of software or hardware in the store). The newspaper had several door busters that I would actually stand in line for.
There were memory cards and flash drives and an assortment of DVDs; this was definitely a store I would get up early to visit. This is a statement I would live to regret. At 3:30 AM Trina nudged me and said it was time. As any normal husband would do, I jumped out of bed right into my clothes and began looking for Trina’s bag to take her to the hospital to the delivery room. It was only after a mild panic that I realized that Trina had not been pregnant for 11 years and that I really needed to relax when she shook me awake. What she meant was that it was time to go shopping. I don’t know about you but getting up at 3:30 AM to go get a good deal on washcloths seems just a little insane. But I did promise 3 hours ago as I was getting into bed that I would go shopping with her so I was pretty much stuck. The washcloth and sock thing was brutal and I wanted to stab my eyes with my car keys just to be relieved of the pain I had to endure. All seemed lost until Trina mentioned that our next stop was Best Buy. As we pulled into the parking lot there were people in sleeping bags and tents who had obviously been at the store for a few days. Curiosity got the best of me and I had to go over and ask what was so important that they would spend the day before Thanksgiving through the day after Thanksgiving living in an electronics store parking lot. The answer was a single word, “Wii”. Well, thank heavens I wasn’t looking for one of those. Dakota made it known he was a loyal Xbox360 customer and would settle for nothing less. As we entered the store I was consumed by the crowd and rode it like a wave on the north shore of Hawaii. When I hit the beach I found myself stranded in the television section of the store. Just then a man came out with a hard cart filled with boxes and people attacked him like a school of piranha going after a cow. For some unknown reason I ended up with a box in my arms and had no idea what it was. I moved away from the frenzy to see what it was I ended up with. What I found was that I was holding a Sony Blu-Ray player. I will show my age here by stating that I have been around since before the VCR. When I explain that to my kids; I am reminded of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars when he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi for the first time and finds out that he and Anikin Skywalker fought in the Clone Wars. At that point I have to confess that even then I was a technology geek and after careful consideration I made the decision that Betamax was the better technology. It had greater resolution, better color management, and was just all around cooler so I bought one on the assumption that the American public would always choose superior technology. What I had not taken into consideration was that even though at the time Betamax had more market share that Sony would make one fatal flaw. The porn industry would go to Sony and ask to license their technology to produce porn videos in Beta format. Sony denied the request. The porn industry then went to VHS who was desperately trying to license to anyone and gladly accepted. The sheer number of people who wanted to watch porn overtook Sony’s market share and the result was that Betamax died a slow and painful death while VHS became a multi-billion dollar industry. So when high-definition DVD formats were introduced and there were two competing and incompatible technologies I decided to wait it out and not buy either. This was a painful thing for me as I am usually one of those early adopters of technology who pays a premium for crappy stuff just to get experience with the technology before the general public. But now here I was in possession of a Sony Blu-Ray player that was obviously highly sought after. My first reaction was to give it to someone else. I happened to see a Best Buy employee and I carried the box to him. He incorrectly assumed that I needed a price check and told me that the Blu-Ray player I had in my hand was $350 with $100 instant rebate and included 6 free movies. It was at that moment that I made my decision as to which format I preferred in the high-definition DVD wars. I had already researched this and felt that Blu-Ray was superior technology and that it would win out in the computer area even if it didn’t in the home media arena. But with this price point it was surely going to dominate. I bought the player and besides the 6 free movies I also purchased 5 more. I gave the box to Trina and told her to wrap it up and give it to me for Christmas. So Christmas morning I opened the gift and with my best performance to date I looked surprised then retreated to the family room to delve into the mountain of cables that lived behind the stereo cabinet and high definition television. The picture was amazing and I was quickly a fan. Something this good had to win the format wars. But past experience reminded me that the best technology didn’t always win. I mistakenly wondered aloud if there were porn videos available for Blu-Ray. This was merely a question as to whether Sony had learned their lesson but Trina I’m afraid took it quite differently. The bruise on my arm finally did heal but it would take well into the following year for it to be unnoticeable. Recently Toshiba announced they were discontinuing the HD-DVD format making Blu-Ray the de-facto winner for high-definition DVD. I was in complete shock. I don’t remember ever actually being on the winning side of a format war so I am not quite sure how I am supposed to act. I can say that I am loving Blu-Ray and find myself only purchasing high-definition versions of movies. If they are not released on Blu-Ray I refuse to buy them. I never would have believed I would become a high-definition snob; I guess that is what 1080p with digital sound will do to a guy.