Although it’s been known since October last year that Samsung will stop production of disc players in North America, this non-news suddenly re-appeared on Forbes on February 15th. People speculate that streaming is the reasoning behind this. Let me state this clearly once and for all. The reason is very plain and simple. Samsung players simply did not sell. PERIOD. There is no conspiracy behind this, there is no “physical media is dead”, there is no “studios are withholding 4K disc release in favour of streaming”. Time and time again I have to re-iterate that no streaming service anywhere in the world can remotely touch the picture quality of physical disc. At the absolute best, UHD streaming is at 25 Mbps (Netflix) and can be as low as 15 Mbps (Amazon Prime). Compare those numbers to physical media of the range of 108 Mbps to 128 Mbps. Even on a 65” non-calibrated edge-lit LCD TV viewed from 10 feet away one can easily detect the inferior quality of the best streaming. Even the best 4K streaming video can’t beat the quality of regular HD physical media quality. Or if you use projection… forget about it. That’s not even mentioning that the sound on streaming is inferior to physical media (many people can’t hear the difference and I can accept this). Second; UHD disc sales have always been on the rise. It’s rise in sales have been stable from day one. The sales of 4K blu rays are now in the 25% area of the total of blu ray sales. 59% of movie sales is commandeered by physical media. So that excuse is shot. The only reason streaming is on the rise is only because there are less and less convenient rental locations available and, in my humble opinion, there are less and less purchase-worthy movies available. The news of “certain studios” withholding 4K disc release is also plain ridiculous. Why release 4K disc when the movie is “Holmes and Watson” when the movie bombed at the box office with 10% score on Rotten Tomatoes. And the studio? It’s Columbia Pictures. You don’t see Sony pulling out of optical media players, do you? Besides, LG still make players, Pioneer just released two different UHD players for the high end market, Panasonic literally can’t make enough players with their UB9000 and UB820 revolutionary players (review pending), and Sony dominates with their all purpose universal players for the mid-market. As for Samsung pulling out from the blu-ray player business, here are the facts:
- All Samsung UHD BD players apply non-defeatable noise-reduction which is bad in maintaining the purity and sharpness of the image stored on the disc
- While all manufacturers include Dolby Vision capability on their media players (and that also includes Apple’s latest version of Apple TVs, both in HD and UHD), Samsung is adamant in not putting Dolby Vision on their players citing their own HDR10+ to be a viable alternative (if not better than) Dolby Vision
- It’s all nice and dandy, but Samsung UHD players can’t even handle their own HDR10+
- They don’t have backwards compatibility with 3D discs
- Their curved chassis doesn’t help either.
So Samsung pulled out of the market is NOT because Blu-ray is dead but because they just can’t (and won’t) make a quality physical media player. After all, people are clamoring around Panasonic’s UB820, UB9000 and Pioneer LX500 and buying them (especially the UB820) like hotcakes! I can’t even get one without a 2-month wait!
So stop being a “Chicken Little”, the sky is not falling. Keep buying physical media as you are.