Blu-ray/HD-DVD vs downloading or streaming movies?
My first official post will look into the HD format war and also going medialess.
The big bad War
The actual HD DVD format war is not good for anyone and in particular for the movie fan. Like many, I'm on the side line but now I'm leaning on the Blu-ray camp. In a recent column on The DigitalBits.com (click here and here), Bill Hunt ask people to email Universal so that they begin to support Blu-Ray and not HD-DVD exclusively. Doing so, he think that it will almost end the format war. He did made good points.
I will not re-buy my entire DVD collection but only my really favorite movies. So, after looking at my own small DVD collection, I noticed that I had a few favorite movies from Universal but most are made by the Blu-ray studios. I emailed Universal in the hope that they changed their minds. I suggest that you do like me and look at your own DVD collection.
Here, the content and not the hardware, is the major key to make your decision. Quality wise, both seem to be the same now. The differences are on interactivity(menu) and the media capacity for now.
Plus, it's easy to loan a DVD to friends/family.
Now, many said they will go medialess and skip Blu-ray/HD-DVD altogether because of the war or are used to be medialess with music. But almost no one talked about the bandwidth and codec/DRM. The medialess ideal does has merit if:
- you don't have to worry about bandwidth speed
- your are not capped
- can play anywhere
Let's take each one at a time.
Give me my Bandwidth
If you have a decent speed, you will have to be patient and wait a few hours before the file is finished downloading. If it's streaming, you will need much more speed and this will cost you more.
To be or not to be Capped
Many ISP, in order to control overall bandwidth cost/usage, will start to capped your monthly bandwidth. That being said, this will limit the numbers of movies you can watch/download per month. Again, you could have opted for an higher capped service but this would had cost you more.
Can I Play, please! please! can I Play
We all know that the studios won't let you download and let you play it anywhere. For that to happen, they will have to decide together what codec and DRM to use. They could take the existing codecs of Blu-ray or HD-DVD, but the files are very big (20Gig/movie). The Xbox Live at 5Gig/movie seem to be reasonable in size. I guest in theory the quality must not be the same but I never seen one.
They could sell special formated hard drive enclosure(add the drive) that will let you save and encrypt your movies on it. This solution is not entirely medialess and instead of a stack of DVDs, you will have a stack of enclosures.
To play elsewhere, you bring the enclosure provided the other set box is in your listed official box. It's one thing the media has: portability without asking for permission first. But, at least, if someone stole the enclosure, he won't be able to play the movies because you will be able to deactivate that box.
Streaming would need a player or standard special box and an internet connection but will let you play from anywhere providing bandwidth issues is not a concern. You would only need to login to a central service. You would not need to keep a local copy, worry that the hard drive might failed or in what enclosure it's saved.
Going with media or going medialess bring all sort of pluses and minuses. Some of those issues will be resolved in time IF the industry talked to each other and check their egos at the door. They seemed to have forgotten something: Customer first!
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