Almost everyone who cares about such things agrees that video downloads will eventually be the most popular way for people to get movies at home. No more going to the video store or waiting for Netflix. No more trying to get a horribly scratched disc to play. Instant gratification. The holy grail. I certainly believe in it. The thing I disagree about is whether we’re there yet or not.
Clearly, there are some services that do the job for some people. I know folks who are think Comcast’s On Demand is the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve heard people rave about Netflix’s Watch Now. But for me, all of the current offerings come up short in one way or another (usually more than one). There are a number of things that I need from a video download service before I will use it as my primary source of movies. Unlike others, I don’t really care about 24 hour viewing windows (though I wouldn’t disagree that more is better). I also don’t get too worked up over DRM or being limited to watching on one device. Here’s what I care about:
I don’t think any of those things are unreasonable. None of them are technically infeasible. Yet from my perspective, none of the services out there hit the mark yet. Here’s my view of several of the contenders:
|A/V quality||HW price||D/L speed||Usability||Selection|
|Netflix Watch Now|
“Quality” is a bit subjective, and my ratings on a lot of this is based on second-hand information. Apple claims “HD” quality for some of the new AppleTV movies, but I’ll believe it when I see it, so I left that as a question mark. I also couldn’t find anything that says how long it will take to start viewing HD movies on the AppleTV, so “download speed” gets a question mark there too. The “selection” rating is based on selection at their best quality. So Watch Now, which has bad quality for all of its movies, got a green light while Vudu, which has almost as many movies but only a tiny number in HD (their best quality) got a red light. Flawed? Maybe, but it’s my table so I call the shots.
See that last one? The Netflix Set-Top Box? All those question marks? Those are the signs of potential. The Netflix box hasn’t yet proven itself to be inadequate. Netflix still has the chance to finally get this right. Will they? I’m not holding my breath.
The developments in this area are happening really fast, so I’m sure things will continue to get better. But I’m guessing it’s going to be at least a year or two until there’s something that really satisfies me. In the mean time, I’ll probably pick up a Blu-ray player to tide me over.
Let the flaming begin.