Wasn’t 2008 a great year?
It is New Years Eve, and I’m thinking back on this year. 2008 was huge. I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with all the details already so I won’t bore you with politics, wars, etc. But even for digital media and home theater, 2008 was an important year.
To begin the year, Warner Bros. dropped their support of HD DVD effectively ending the drawn out format war between the DVD Forum’s HD DVD format and the Blu-ray Disc Association’s Blu-ray Disc format. When Toshiba called it quits on HD DVD, the death knell was struck as they were the final manufacturer producing HD DVD players. This was the biggest news of the year for home theater enthusiasts who could now confidently buy into Blu-ray Disc ensured of its success.
More good news for home entertainment buffs was the coming of age of online streaming video. Every major motion picture studio and many independent studios cast their lots for digital delivery as a viable option for consumers. While I lament the quality of the content, instant access to movies, television programs and online-only content in the living room is a huge plus overall.
With the success of AppleTV and iTunes everyone was getting in the game. Vudu expanded their library and pushed the quality forward. Netflix released a set-top box for digital delivery. LG added streaming of Netflix content followed by Samsung and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. (Overall it was a very good year for Netflix.) Not to be outdone, Blockbuster released a free set-top box (with the purchase of $99 worth of rental credits).
Along with the victory of Blu-ray Disc came the release of a multitude of AV receivers capable to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS:HD Master Audio. A renaissance for home theater began. The rear-projection television is reaching death’s door, and large screen flat panel HDTVs are more and more affordable every day. Now you can have theater-quality video and audio in your home at an affordable price.
Along with the low prices and large screen sizes came the apex of video and audio quality. Experts are predicting video quality won’t get much better until OLED starts to enter the market for real. With the newest Pioneer Kuro displays nearly matched by the lower-priced Panasonic VIERA panels, and now the Mitsubishi LaserVue displays, you couldn’t ask for more options.
I’m looking forward to see what 2009 has to offer. CES is just around the corner so we can expect to see what kind of new technologies to expect. With the recession I expect a lot of companies will be refocusing their product lines, so this will be interesting.