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The Good, Bad and Ugly of Movie Downloading

According to The New York Times, the Internet movie download era is more distant than pundits think, for six colossal reasons:

First, downloadable movies require high-speed Internet connections - and only about half of American households have them. That number won't change much for years.

Second, downloaded movies don't include the director's commentaries, deleted scenes, alternate endings, alternate language soundtracks or other DVD goodies. It's just not as rich an experience.

Third, movie downloads don't deliver the audio and video quality of DVD discs - even standard-def ones. Internet movies are compressed to download faster, which affects picture quality, and offer older, more compressed audio soundtracks than modern DVDs.

Forth, today's movie-download services bear the greasy policy fingerprints of the movie studio executives - and when it comes to the new age of digital movies, these people are not, ahem, known for their vision.

Fifth, no matter which movie-download service you choose, you'll find yourself facing the same confusing, ridiculous time limits for viewing. You have to start watching the movie you've rented within 30 days, and once you start, you have to finish it within 24 hours. For example, the 24-hour limit. Suppose you typically don't start a movie until 7:30 p.m., after dinner and homework are put away. If you don't have time to finish the movie in one sitting, you can't resume at 7:30 tomorrow night; at that point, the download will have self-destructed.

Sixth, there's the fact that to protect their cash cows, most studios don't release their movies on the Internet until (at least) a month after they've been available on DVD.

The rest of The New York Times article reviews and rates four currently available movie-download services - Apple TV, TiVo/Amazon Unbox, Xbox 360, and Vudu. Xbox 360 receives an overall rating of "D", the lowest rating of the four services.

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toughNAME3468d ago

it's a question of how quickly it will get here

rCrysis3468d ago

you're right, downloading will come eventually. but as the article states, we will still need high-speed downloads.

these high-speed downloads NEED to be more than what our providers are giving us. at least a 10mbps download. at that rate movies can be downloaded at least within an hour.

ktchong3468d ago (Edited 3468d ago )

Bill Gates said Blu-ray vs. HD DVD would be the "last" physical format war. He's WRONG.

Video quality will only get better and better, and resolution will only get higher and higher -- which means videos will require more and more storage space.

The video of future will take up more space than even Blu-ray could store.

Right now, we're looking at hi-def, 1080p, that takes up 50 gigs to 100 gigs of data space. If you think that's good enough forever, then you're WRONG.

That's something even more advanced, with even better solution, than the current HD. It's the Ultra Hi-Def Video (UHDV), and it's already on the horizon. It has 16 times the resolution of the current HD. It'll be ready for consumer markets in about 10-15 years, probably sooner.

Get this: one hour of uncompressed UHDV would consume 12 TERABYTES of data. Even Blu-ray can't store that much data.

Someday soon enough, people will want that UHDV in their homes. Currently, only the commercial-grade Protein-Coated Disc (PCD) and some kind of experiemntal nano-technology-based discs can handle much data.

How soon do you think cable will be able to transfer TERABYTES of data instantly? You won't download that insane amount of data over cable in the foreseeable future, certainly not when UHDV arrives for the masses. We'll still need physical format to store all that data.

Oh, and UHDV is not the end of the line... currently, the movies you see in the cinemas and theaters have EIGHT TIMES the resolution of UHDV. One day, maybe in 15-20 years, they'll figured out to put that eight-times-of-UHDV videos into homes... via physical format FIRST, many many years before digital download will be able to handle them.

And the quality of cinema pictures is also improving... this is like a cycle.

Which mean we'll still need bigger and bigger capacity for physical format... and digital download will always fall behind physical format in terms of capacity.

Saying that physical format will go away is just like saying that papers are going away -- ain't gonna happen. Only in Bill's widest wet dreams.

IcemanK23468d ago

You have to remember who drives the market for movie purchases at retail and this is what the CEOs that a qouting Downloads the winner are forgetting.

People who love movies want the absolute BEST quality. This is the reason that DVD beat VHS, the reason Blu-ray will eventually beat DVD, and the reason Downloads will in the near future have no chance. No one that loves movies will take a step back in quality of picture and sound for a download.

Think about it for downloads to have a fighting chance they would have to be between 25-50 GBs, you would have to have a 1 GB per second connection(which is way above restrictions) and a box/tv with a 500 gb HDD would only hold 10-15 movies at a time. This is why higher that anything that downloads are able to accomplish in the next few years and it is still sub par compared to the current Blu-Ray.

How is it going to win?

ruibing3468d ago

I think most people get there movies in one of the following forms:

a) Theater with friends/family
b) Living room (usually in physical format) with friends/family
c) Computer (usually from Torrent)

darthv723468d ago

they seemed to leave out two big supporters of dl movies. netflix and movielink. If they can get that damn 24hr restriction lifted to 48 or 72+ then it would be better received. The price of entry level high speed (512-768k) is under $20 a month so those who still use dial up are either in areas not covered or just dont know they can get something faster.

The quality is good and for me...I dont care for the extra stuff unless I really like the movie. Then I would just go buy the real thing. I use netflix and like the fact the movie is ready to watch in less than a minute. Same goes for the live service. Apple wanting to do this through itunes could be just the right amount of push DD needs. Millions of people use itunes for music. Why should that number be any different for movies and tv?

Kakkoii3468d ago

I believe the reason HD-DVD was dumped by companies so fast, Is actually everyone on news sites fault.

Every time there was some sort of story posted about How HD-DVD will loose, or this company dropped it, blah blah.

Those stories would be spread on every damn news site. With that, it creates alot of media publicity, which in turn of course effects the real world. With all the media publicity with stories saying HD-DVD will die. More people started talking in the real world, and waiting to decide what to buy. Also with all that media publicity that was aimed towards the idea of HD-DVD loosing. All the talk it generated made companies slowly beleive that HD-DVD was surely going to die. Thus the companies slowely all shifted to Blueray.

My point is: News sites bring so much hype onto some subjects, that it effects the outcome of those said subjects.

Mr Marbles3468d ago

IT is not the job of the media to jump on bandwagons and push one side over the other. Now like I said before, consumers are left with an unfinished, over priced format and no alternative if they want to watch HD disk media. Bluray stand alone players are extremely slow and all of them are obsolete already, I know plenty of grownups who just do not want to buy a PS3 to watch movies, and have no interest in games, they no longer have another option. The media failed consumers, they should have been pointing these things out instead of hopping on the Sony is god bandwagon. HDDVD stand alone players were just FAR superior to Bluray standalone players, and cheaper on top of that, it is almost criminal how bad the media screwed up by allowing Sony to screw everyone like this so easy.

Zatoichi3468d ago

Sorry guys but have to disagree with you there. If you cast your mind back to the dim dark distant last year 'The Media' were forever finding excuses to have another go at the favourite whipping boy i.e. Sony. I cannot think of any that didn't, but somehow Sony came through it all. So obviously nobody takes 'The Media' that seriously.

Mr Marbles - I have also only heard reports that HD-DVD and Blu-ray players were equal on the playing of movies (extra aside) so where did you get the idea that HD-DVD was superior? Yes it was just as good sometime the sound was better, but that was down to the studio taking time and spending money to make a better disc not the player. Also the HD-DVD machines were cheaper but unfortunately this brings up what I believe is HD-DVDs greatest failure - the price of the discs. We kept getting bombarded that the players were cheaper and the disc were cheaper to make but somehow the HD-DVD disc was the SAME PRICE as the blu-ray!!! So maybe the greedy retailers had something to do with it not 'The Media'.

LastDance3468d ago

hahaha unfinished? wanna talk unfinished xbox boy?

Mr Marbles3468d ago

Why do people keep saying that downloadable movies will fail because only half of American households have Highspeed internet, but these same people claim the PS3 will destroy all competition because it has bluray, even though far far fewer than half of American house holds have HDTVs?

PumPum3468d ago

That 512kb/s-1mb/s is considered a high speed internet?
Downloading a movie at full speed takes days.

Mr Marbles3468d ago

on the XBL market place you can download High def movies to about 10 or 15% and start watching them, you DO NOT have to wait hours to download the entire movie before you can watch it.

Snukadaman3468d ago (Edited 3468d ago )

It has too be faster for most people too enjoy movies whenever they want ..two hours tops would be great....now maybe its my verizon dsl?

I also disagree with you mr marbles...it took close too 89% for the movie too be ready too watch...if it was 10-15% I would of been very happy and watched the movie that same night.

Kakkoii3468d ago

I guess most of you didn't hear about the big plan USA has put forth. The one that's going to cost billions. There going to lay fiber optic lines all over the country, to bring ultra fast connection to everyones doorsteps.

Up here in Canada tho. Most people have real high speed. Generally 3mb. And up to 25mb if your a cable user.

With my measly 3mb dsl connection. I can download a 4.5gb HD Movie in 3 hours. And I could get a much faster connection if I wanted to pay for it.

I beleive downloads are the future. Personal storage devices and downloading movies is where we will all end up. No more physical discs to go out and buy. No more "Sorry, were sold out of that movie" Since downloading is unlimited. And no more size restrictions for movies with personal storage devices. Movies can continue to grow in size. While so do storage devices.

LastDance3468d ago (Edited 3468d ago )

Yeah instead its..OHhh sorry your out of downloads. Ohhh sorry the line is clogged. ohhhh no my harddrives full. ohhh im at work hunny can you pick us up.i mean download a movie.. nah its easy just go to...asnfaeiofnheiofoho23y50u0 rwe0ur03ru9234u93r-3ru-23ru
OHHHH no harddrive crashed sorry honey we cant watch a movie tonight.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

have fun downloading your 3 hour download movie while i kick back with my bran spakin new Blu ray 46" tv and 7.1 surround sound.

Kakkoii - No more "Sorry, were sold out of that movie"

God forbid you walk to the next shop and ask.

Quality over convinence!

Kakkoii3468d ago (Edited 3467d ago )

Lol HardDrive crash? You act as if that's a common thing.

It's not. I've been using the same hard drive for about 9 years now. And it's been running almost 24/7. And it still works fine.

Also, Solid state memory technology is ever so advancing. With already the 1TB record being broken not long ago for solid state memory.

In the future solid state memory will be more feasible. And so will downloading movies. I'm talking about the far future. Not 10 years from now. I'm talking like 50 years. Downloading and personal storage will be the main way to get movies. It's common sense that's how it would end up. It saves on resources, and companies rack in the money without having to get disc's and cases manufactured and shipped to stores.

(On the note of hard drive crashing, What about.. Oh NO! The disc is scratched and my movies now corrupted. There goes my $50 unless I happened to back up my disc onto another disc <_<.)

With the future of downloading movies, comes personal storage devices that play media onto your TV. (There are already products that do this out there.) So BlueRay movies, or should I just say High Def movies. Can be downloaded onto the drive. And then played directly onto the TV.

Yes my download takes 3 hours. I said that's just with my 3mb connection. I could get alot faster of one. How about I upgrade to the 10mb option? That's fast enough to start watching an HD movie instantly streaming of the internet. These fast connections will be coming to the USA in due time. Many states already have upgraded connections if you live in the city. And some euro places even have 100mb connections going to homes lol.

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