Trying Out DVD Downloading Services [8:52 pm]
Right now, though, this stuff works better in theory than in practice. The CinemaNow service is easy enough to use. Simply browse through the film listings and pick one you like. You also have to install a small application that monitors the download and automatically converts the Windows Media Video file into the DVD format and burns it onto disc.
That’s where the problems arise. The original download, which remains playable from your hard drive, looks at least as good as a store-bought DVD. But converting it from Windows Media Video to the MPEG-2 format for burning purposes compromises the qualityâ€”it’s like making a photocopy of a photocopy. [...]
[...] Apple and Netflix, two companies with a lot more clout than EZTakes, are also gunning for download services. Perhaps they can muscle the studios into cutting reasonable deals. What we really need is a system that provides the high resolution that current technology already makes possible, plus a reasonable copy-protection system that allows us to watch the movies on any video devices we ownâ€”TVs, laptops, iPods, phones, and game consoles. Download-and-burn DVDs will not be the ultimate solution for distributing video to consumers. But it’s at least one small step closer to video nirvana.
Tech pundits say Intel botched their TV debut by pushing technology that wasn’t ready. Still, if the living-room PC is such a great idea, why hasn’t the Viiv void been filled with better alternatives?
My theory is that PC-TV hybrid products like Viiv aim for a sweet spot that doesn’t exist. Very savvy consumers will hack together these setups themselves. The less savvy will just keep their TVs and computers separate. And the folks in the middle? If they’re around, nobody’s found them yet.