Netflix With Roku Hardware

NewTeeVee has a report on the new hardware device built by Roku that mates to Nextflix streaming online service. At just $99 it’s not expensive but it looks to be only SD. There is an HDMI output so perhaps it may be HD capable in the future. Without HD there’s just no point.

NewTeeVee quite rightly points out that Netflix has a woefully limited, and only SD library of content available online. We watched a couple of shows this way some months back. Not only were the available titles limited, but the compression scheme used to stream the video resulted in poor quality video. That was further exacerbated by watching it on a 42″ LCD TV. It was even really competitive with Comcast Pay-Per-View.

With large TVs (>37″) getting to be the norm anyone operating in this space is going to have to make HD a priority. At least if they propose to offer set-top hardware they should have a clear understanding of a current typical TV set.

I still hope that Amazon get it right with their Unbox service so that Tivo can compete with AppleTV & iTunes.

Amazon Unboxed Goes HD: Eventually

Just poking around this afternoon I found this which says that Amazon is definitely working on an HD version of their Unbox movie download service. This service is operated in partnership with Tivo. The user interface is very nicely integrated into the Tivo menus. My wife likes it a lot.

They suspect that the new service will be based upon H.264 compression. That’s about the only real option around.

Neither the company nor its customers will have unlimited bandwidth so older compression schemes would be impractical. Newer compression schemes would require that Amazon encode the content themselves. Better that they settle on H.264 which is what Apple’s iTunes uses amongst others.

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Now That The HD Disk War Is Over….

It certainly appears that HD-DVD lost. But it also appears that Blu-Ray did not win. Yes, this was a classic lose-lose situation. For all it’s back room dealing Sony may blow this in the end.

Blu-Ray sales peaked for a few weeks in January but have since slumped. Consumers just may not see value in the price of the players or the media. Ars Technica has the details.

Wait, the price of Blu-Ray players has actually been on the rise since Toshiba conceded the battle! Even I, who still has a first generation Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD player, won’t be buying a Blu-Ray player any time soon. They’re just too expensive.

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HD-DVD: Life After Death

OK, so Toshiba officially put HD-DVD to sleep a couple of months back. It’s a pity but it’s a fact. Yet today The Register has a piece on how HD-DVD disk sales remain solid since that time.

It’s also a fact that Toshiba folded their hand in the light of studio momentum. It’s not so much that the Blur-Ray camp won the war…the HD-DVD camp walked away from the battle when abandoned by their arms suppliers.

The price of Blu-Ray players remains high, and has even gone up in recent weeks. Further, the current crop of players don’t support many of the more advanced capabilities of the last batch of HD-DVD players. No internet interactivity, etc.

I guess it’ll be a while before we invest in Blu-Ray around here.

Turning The Collapse Of HD-DVD Into An Opportunity

HD-XA1I spent much of this past week in Austin, TX. One evening while on the way back to my hotel I happened past a Circuit City store, so I decided to have a look around. I found something that surprised me a little. They had considerable stock of HD-DVD players.

Now it’s true that Toshiba and everyone involved in the HD-DVD format have thrown in the towel. The great optical disc war of 2005-2008 has past. I see in newspapers HD-DVD players being offered at great price, generally under $100. That’s a good price!!!

Look elsewhere in the store and I see “upconverting DVD players” from other manufacturers selling for > $130 each. There’s an opportunity here folks! HD-DVD players are by definition fine upconverting DVD players, equal or better than the lesser DVD players with upconvertors. It makes perfect sense to pickup an HD-DVD player at a great price even if you never play an HD-DVD.

HD Downloads From iTunes

It’s Sunday afternoon here in jolly (but exhausted) old England. I just caught a post by George Ou at ZDNET called “Don’t believe the low bit-rate ‘HD’ lie.” It’s right on the money about the reality of downloading HD content as proposed by Apples new iTunes service.

There’s more to HD than spatial resolution. Just as a cheap digital camera might take pictures with a lot of pixels and nonetheless turn out lousy images. Bit rate matters, even given consideration for various compression schemes.

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