Against DVDs

Last night I rented the venerable, Oscar-nominated film “Kung Fu Panda.” The McDonalds Redbox device sure comes in handy for those evenings Rebecca and I want to watch a movie on a whim. The problem is that we are usually, if not always, unable to enjoy the full-length of the film. This unfortunate state of affairs is due to the rather troubling disadvantages that come along with DVDs. We agreed that it’s a shame that VCRs may permanently sail off into the sunset. There are many reasons why VHS is vastly superior to DVD that include:

1. No scratching. The primary problem with renting DVDs is that you rent something that bears the permanent abuse of past renters. Their careless actions scar the delicate DVD surface making some chapters literally unwatchable. Filmakers should be outraged at the notion that many viewers have to forsake 5 to 10 minutes of the movie to move beyond the damaged section of the disc. True, VHS tape can also be damaged, but it is rather uncommon and cab be blamed on a defective VCR rather than a clumsy renter.

2. Rewinding is much easier. DVD rewind features are simply absurd. You either get painfully slow or stupidly fast when trying to isolate a specific scene of film. Too often you do not have the fineness to find the happy medium. VHS had one speed that was coherent and sensible and a fast one for taking on large sections. Though, I have not compared the two, I do know that you can to where you want with VHS pretty easily.

3. Queuing up a scene is easier. If you have ever had the unpleasant experience of sitting through a lecture where the poor soul fumbled with the problems of finding the right chapter and using the clumsy fast forward feature (see #2 for details) you will know that the days of public speaking with VHS were much easier.

4. You can fast forward through all the crap at the beginning. I loath watching previews and advertisements for things I don’t care about (this also applies to movie theaters). DVDs regularly lock their start-up sequence forcing you watch whatever the producer wants you to watch. It’s tyranny of the remote and want my clicker to be free from all constraints.

5. Dolby Pro-Logic is adequate. It is true that DVDs have a clearer picture and better sound, but you really don’t capture it unless you have a high end sound system and TV. I got into home theater during the Pro-Logic days and it is more than adequate to meet the listening needs of the average consumer (they are low as evidence by the home theater systems you can by from any electron store). Those that want the improvements DVD brings become technology snobs and end up spending a lot of money that could be spent on books or time with friends or loved ones.

I have only liked DVD for watching a TV series (the chapter selection feature is advantageous). Other than that, bring back the VCRs.

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9 thoughts on “Against DVDs

  1. “1. No scratching. The primary problem with renting DVDs is that you rent something that bears the permanent abuse of past renters. Their careless actions scar the delicate DVD surface making some chapters literally unwatchable. Filmakers should be outraged at the notion that many viewers have to forsake 5 to 10 minutes of the movie to move beyond the damaged section of the disc. True, VHS tape can also be damaged, but it is rather uncommon and cab be blamed on a defective VCR rather than a clumsy renter.”

    Myth. As a person who worked for a video store back when they primarily rented VHS, it was extremely common to get VHS tapes that had food in them, were severely warped by heat, broken or some other careless damage. People just are not careful at all stuff they “rent”. It is not theirs, they do not care. And one of the things that makes DVD far superior to VHS? If a tape gets wrecked? It’s toast. A scratched DVD is immensely easy to fix.

  2. My experience with half of the DVDs I have rented has been to skip to another chapter because of a scratch. I only had a handful of experiences with VHS where the film was rendered unwatchable. Maybe a video clerk has the tools to fix a scratch, but the average renter does not.

  3. Claiming that VHS (with its terrible, terrible picture quality) is superior to DVD belongs on your preposterous statements tournament. I demand its immediate entry into the brackets.

    The answer is stop renting DVDs like a chump and buy the ones you want, or get a better DVD player that doesn’t skip so easily.

  4. Never!!!

    Though I never claimed VHS had better picture quality than DVD, I will consider it. The truth has never gotten in the way of a good story around here!

  5. ed says:

    Yeah, this is kind of shocking really. Chapter select is reason alone to favor DVDs, let alone digital picture and sound. VHS Tracking anyone? Also, easily selectable features such as language, subtitles, bonus material, etc.

    Sorry Adam, but pony up and buy a half-way decent dvd player that can successfully fast forward and rewind, as I’ve never ever had a problem doing that on a DVD on my $35 dvd player from WalMart. It’s true that you often can’t press the menu button at the beginning of a DVD, but you can click the >| button, which will take you to the next “track” on the DVD. I’m truly sorry if no one has ever told you this before.

    And I’m sorry you’re stuck with prologic, but that’s not our fault :) Dolby 5.1 systems are the new “budget” setups, and have been for the last 5 years at least. I picked up a sweet logitech computer speaker kit to use with my dvd player. It works great and was orders of magnitude cheaper than traditional home theater sound systems.

  6. Most DVD players have memory, such that if you stop watching a movie, it remembers where you were when you start again.

    Whenever my DVD is acting up, I remove it, wipe it down with a moist tissue, and put it back. This is also effective for child rearing.

    New DVDs allow you to fast forward through everything except the FBI warning. It stops when it gets to the main menu, so you can go ahead and warp through at 32X. With VHS, you have to use the slow (what you call “sensible”) speed.

    Blockbuster sends versions of older DVDs that have been scrubbed of ads.

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