Physical Media is Dead. Well, Actually, No… (Part 1)

You may missed the announcement a few months back that the last company still manufacturing VHS machines was closing up shop? They still made VHS?! Yes, they did, even though DVD had effectively wiped out the VHS market by 2005. A few diehards held out and stayed with the 40-year-old analog format and some folks are even collecting VHS and Beta pre-recorded movies. Yes, tapes that were considered garbage just a few years back are now going for ridiculous sums.

This is a particularly odd development. We can understand the resurgence of vinyl as it offers a somewhat richer sound than digitally compressed files, VHS really offers no advantage at all over digital formats like DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray. However, nostalgia will always be a strong pull for some people and who are we to judge, right?

In addition to VHS, however, there have been numerous articles of late that all forms of physical media are heading for an early grave. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of DVD and while still preferable to VHS, DVDs don’t look so hot on modern HD televisions. Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray look terrific, however, and offer consistently better picture quality than the compressed streams you get from sources like Netflix or YouTube.

However, as far as the general public is concerned, convenience is paramount. Remember how quickly your neighborhood video stores went out of business? Who saw that coming? As soon as people discovered that VOD offered a reliable and reasonably priced way to view movies at home, they abandoned Blockbuster Video and the like in droves. DVD sales have plummeted in recent years as people seem to be happy with simply viewing or owning a digital file, instead of an actual copy of a movie. Blu-ray has also not turned out to be the saviour that studios were hoping, though its sales have been slowly climbing as DVD declines.

Is it time to write the epitaph for the digital disc? Not quite yet. Stay tuned…

VHS Tape

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