When we were putting together the itinerary for our Home Theater Forum 2004 National Meet we had talked to the folks at Sony/Columbia about doing something special for our membership. Imagine our excitement when they offered to give us a demonstration of their upcoming Blu-Ray Disc technology. I have to admit, of all the things we had planned to do that week, this demonstration was something I was most excited about seeing. ....it did not disappoint. I wish that we could have brought all of you out to Sony to see what we experienced. You folks have no idea how dramatically this format is going to change in the next two years. We met with Victor Masuda (Vice President Blu-Ray Disc Group) and Don Eklund (Senior VP Advanced Technologies Columbia/Tri-Star) who gave us a little background on the Blu-Ray format. I am going to give you a few excerpts from the Press material that was provided to all of us..... * Instead of simply equaling the broadcast HDTV data rate of 19 Megabits per second, Blu-Ray far exceeds it. At supporting data rates of 36 Megabits per second, it's the highest data rate of any consumer medium, delivering the ultimate picture quality: full 1920 H x 1080 V High Definition video. * Thanks to the blue-violet laser and other advanced technologies, the single layer BD exceeds the capacity of five DVDs, while dual layer BD holds even more. * Blue-Ray already has the support of 13 major manufacturers including Dell, HP, Hitachi, LG, Matsushita, Mitsubishi. Pioneer, Royal Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson. If I remember correctly, the opposing HD DVD group is backed only by Toshiba and NEC. Though the two consortiums are fighting to become the most widely accepted format, it is my early opinion that based on the manufacturer backing, upcoming Playstation support and Sony's recent acquisition of the MGM library that Blu-Ray will probably be the dominant format. So how good does Blu-Ray DVD look? It looks incredible! Nearly 60 members of Home Theater Forum were ushered into one of Sony studio's private screening rooms last week to get a first-hand look at this new format. We were treated to scenes from [/i]Lawrence of Arabia[/i] that were split-screen so that we could see side-by-side the difference between the DVD and Blu-Ray. As the split screen moved from right to left you could see the smaller detailed blurry images of the DVD suddenly come to a razor-sharp realization that became so incredibly defined. ...and mind you, these are images projected on a 20' screen. Imagine how they will look on consumer televisions. Personally, I think the difference between Blu-Ray and DVD are more dramatic than what we saw going from VHS to DVD. I'm going to give the opportunity for the members that attended this event to give their reactions to what they saw. Better to hear it from a group of people than just one individual. Stay Tuned!