Nerdos iuvat fortuna

Thoughts from the life of a big nerd

The Battle for Your Home TV

When it comes to our home media consumption, we currently have a broad range of choices.  Whether we want to listen to music, watch a movie, or play video games, there is some way of conveniently accessing immediate entertainment.  Video, however, is beginning to take center stage among the various media because of the growing popularity of high-definition content.  In the ever-flowing river of technology, DVDs are going the way of VHS tapes and computers are stepping into the current.  In the swirling media milieu that is the present, three formats have ascended to prominence, and each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Blu-ray discs are the hot, new physical media, much like DVDs trumped VHS in the mid-to-late 1990s.  Blu-rays have superior video and audio quality and a shiny blue underside.  They have a much higher storage capacity than DVDs, but basically look about the same.

Pros: The ability to own something physical and feel its heft in your hand.  HD video that looks fantastic with no lag.  Packaging, Packaging, Packaging, although I have yet to see a Blu-ray with the packaging quality of some of my DVD sets.  I think DVD packaging is an often under-appreciated art form.  The cheesy blue header at the top of Blu-rays kind of ruins the aesthetic appeal (thus a pro and a con).

Cons: Finding a place to store more stuff.  Always wondering if/when they’re going to be replaced by the next best thing.  Buying a new player to replace the DVD player.

Is all that blu really necessary?

Digital Downloads are another popular form of media that have been gaining some ground in recent years. The TV and movie stores on iTunes are probably the best representation of the current state of digitally downloaded media.  Instead of going to the store to buy a DVD or Blu-ray, you can just hop on your computer, click a button, and your movie or TV show starts downloading instantly.

Pros: No need to take up space in your house because everything is on your hard drive.  Your computer can become your personal home media center, especially if you have a wireless network.  You can watch your favorite TV episodes on portable devices (iPods, iPads, and other more inferior products).

Cons: NO PACKAGING and a lack of any feeling of ownership (maybe that’s just me…).  If you want HD video, it takes forever to download even on a decently fast connection.  HD video also takes up a lot of hard drive space and then you end up with mountains of hard drives in place of mountains of discs.

Do we want our family rooms to look like this????

The final format in competition for your attention is a fairly new concept known simply as the Cloud.  With the cloud, as I understand it, you pay a minor subscription fee and can purchase movies, music, tv shows, and other media, which are then stored out there in the vastness of the interwebs.  You can access your media at any time and you can also take all of your media and move it to a different service if you feel so inclined.

Pros: All issues of storage are moot.  You don’t have to deal with shelves for discs or closets full of hard drives.  Various portable and non-portable devices will be able to play your media anywhere and everywhere you want.

Cons: Again, NO PACKAGING.  Current internet speeds and storage are nowhere near the capacity needed to sustain a massive migration to the Cloud.  The possibility of enduring ads with your media to help offset minimal subscription costs.

So, that is the playing field as I currently see it.  I don’t proclaim by any means to be a technological prophet, and I have no idea how the next ten years of media consumption will play out.  I imagine there will always be people like me who like to hold the physical objects in their hands, but my gut tells me that this will eventually become a relic of the past.  When the Indiana Jones of the year 3000 comes back to excavate our civilization, he’ll wonder what these strange circular discs were and write countless academic articles about their use as weaponry or eating utensils.

Am I the only one out there drowning in a media maelstrom?


March 5, 2010 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment