Blu-Ray – worth the money?

Is Blu-Ray worth the money?
If you’re asking UK fans of Japanese animation, the answer seems to be a resounding “no”. You need only look at the shelves, and when I asked an assistant at a major store, he confirmed that sales of BD anime were very low.
Why? Possibly because there’s not much point having a BD if you’re going to play it on a 19″ 720p TV in your student bedroom. And then there’s the patchy availability of titles. I got a BD player along with my HD TV with the intention of buying BD instead of DVD in the future, but that was over a year ago, and the number of BD titles I have been able to buy remains very small. In several cases I was balked because the title of interest was not issued on BD at all, or only as a region A.

One had the region annoyance with DVDs, but in that case the answer was to order a player modified to play all-regions. Problem solved. Unfortunately this just isn’t possible with BD players. All is not lost however, and there seem to be several ways around the problem, none of them particularly satisfactory. Some models of player, now discontinued but still available second-hand or ‘reconditioned’ could be altered quite easily to region A or ABC, usually by the expedient of downloading the firmware for another region version of the player and installing it. (The catch is that if you are foolish enough to connect the player to the Internet, it may self-update its firmware…) You could order a new ABC or region-free player, possibly hacked and definitely premium-priced. You could import a new player from the region of interest, in addition to your locally bought BD player. There are two problems with this: the high cost of carriage, and what to do if it goes wrong.
Then there is the PC. If you have a recent model PC capable of handling 1080p HD, and with a BD-ROM drive in it, this will play BD disks of your local region, and apparently some easy software hackery will allow it to play BDs from any region. If you already have such a machine stood next to your TV, that looks like the best way to go.
[Actually I would strongly recommend having a small-form-factor PC stood next to your TV, as it will handle lots of things that a smart IPTV can’t quite handle yet, such as display streaming from Crunchyroll and 4OD or other TV archive services, or bittorrent downloads.]