Is Blu-ray DOA? You Decide

Apple has been against Blu-ray since the new format arrived. Apple has made it clear that they have no intentions of ever including a Blu-ray system on any of their computer systems. But other companies also have jumped off of the Blu-ray wagon which begs one to ask. Is Blu-ray DOA?

Netflix appears to be getting away from not only Blu-ray but also DVD disks. The company appears to be heading for a business model in which movies will be streamed from their site. This will eliminate the mailing and handling of both Blu-ray and DVD disks, plus inventory and the assorted problems will disks being lost in the mail or being damaged by users. Netflix has launched their services in Canada, but missing will be mailing of disks. The new model for Canada will be streaming only. The CEO of Netflix states that a streaming only plan is in the works for the U.S. as well.

Microsoft with their X-box 360 likewise is staying away from Blu-ray. The Redmond giant has stated that they have no intentions of ever including a Blu-ray player with their gaming consoles.

In a recent article it also states that:

Microsoft’s UK Director, Stephen McGill, recently gave an interview to Xbox360Achievements where he said:

Actually, Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?

We might not be at the point where digital downloads equal Blu-ray in sheer quality, but it’s fast approaching, and digital downloads are able to grow and adapt and improve at a vastly quicker rate than those dinosaur physical disc formats.

Sure, this is stuff everyone probably already knows–but it’s nice to hear Microsoft say, flat-out, that they won’t bother wasting time on a format with a shelf life nearly as short as that of an avocado.

But will Blu-ray go the way of the dodo? I believe it will. We have been presented with a technology that offers little when it comes to video quality unless you are a video purist. For the average consumer DVD is just fine for watching movies. I also believe that we have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to the benefits of 1080p over 720p. Again, unless you are a purist, who cares.

I put off buying a Blu-ray player since I never did think it would take off. Instead I am buying a Roku to stream media to my HDTV. Apple, Boxee Box and Google are also offering streaming devices and I believe this is the wave of the future.

Since I am on my soap box, I might as well toss in 3D into the mix. 3D is going to go the way of the dodo as well. Just my 2 cents.

Comments welcome.

Source – fastcompany

Netflix Apology And A Streaming Only Plan For U.S.

The CEO of Netflix made a statement that he now claims was a joke, stating that we ‘Americans are self-absorbed’. I personally didn’t take offense to his remark and actually found some truth to his remark. There was also the issue of Netflix offering Canadians a lower subscription price that now has been cleared up. Apparently the Canadian subscription price of $7.99 is for streaming only with no DVD be mailed to a subscribers home. Now Netflix states that subscribers in the U.S. may be getting a streaming only package as well.

Here is the blog entry from Netflix:

Apologies

My Big American Foot is in my mouth. Yesterday, I made an awkward joke with a reporter in Toronto about Americans (like me) being self-absorbed relative to Netflix pricing in Canada. I was wrong to have made the joke, and I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people. The pricing Netflix is offering in Canada, $7.99 per month, does not include any DVD-by-mail option, and that is why it is cheaper than our $8.99 USA plan which has both DVD-by-mail and streaming in one plan. We are looking at adding a streaming-only option for the USA over the coming months. My apologies to anyone offended by my self-absorbed comment. Sincerely, -Reed

Interesting possibility if in fact it does happen. Streaming video is going to be the next great wave in entertainment. I personally believe that in the next few years more people will be cutting the cord with their cable companies in favor of streaming content from the Internet.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Netflix

Netflix Now Offering Movies To Our Canadian Neighbors For Less

Netflix has expanded its business operation across the border into Canada. The company has begun operations and is going to be offering the one at a time rental plus streaming for $7.99 a month. This is one buck less than we pay here in the U.S. This in itself is unusual since traditionally U.S. companies charge more when they cross the borders into foreign lands. But let’s face it here folks. This is going to be a boon to Netflix since at that price there should be plenty of Canadians who will want to use the service.

In a recent article it also states that:

This prompted Etan Vlessing at the Hollywood Reporter to ask CEO Reed Hastings, “Are you concerned that American Netflix subscribers will look north and ask for the same discount Canadians get at $7.99?”

Hastings’ response is a classic:

“How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It’s something we’ll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed.”

I also understand that Netflix hired actors at a launch event in Toronto to pose as customers and hype their Netflix experience. Why would a successful company make not only a stupid statement like above, but also pull off a stupid stunt as well? Have American companies become so crooked, inept, and greedy that this is now the new business model? Lie and cheat your way to the top? Disgusting!

Comments welcome.

Source – Business Insider

Are We Getting Closer To The Day When We Can Dump Cable or Satellite TV?

First let me say that there are so many new products hitting the store shelves, that for the casual TV viewer, it is too much to grasp. I know because I am a casual TV viewer and I get lost looking at all of the new products and trying to figure out which to buy. There is also confusion in the market place as to when we can cut our ties with satellite or cable TV. More importantly is the question is if we ever will be able to cut our ties to what some describe as our bondage to paid cable or satellite services.

So this afternoon when I read a piece from MG Siegler over at TechCrunch, I was glad to read that I was not alone in trying to understand the new products like Apple TV, Google TV and other devices. Here is what he stated:

As everyone is well aware, Apple TV hasn’t been a success up to now. I like mine, but the content model on it is flawed. The move to TV show rentals is definitely a welcome one. But with only content from ABC and some content from Fox, the selection isn’t good enough. My hope is that this model proves to be a success and the other networks/stations get on board quickly. (Though it doesn’t look too promising right now.)

More interesting about the new Apple TV is the AirPay functionality that is going to allow you to push almost any video content from any iOS device right to your Apple TV (and soon other devices that have this built-in). Yes, that includes Netflix and the MLB app.

Sports remain an issue in general, but some are supposedly coming to Xbox Live compliments of ESPN shortly. And there is ESPN 3, the online component of the network that allows you to watch games live online — if your provider has a deal with them to carry it (Comcast does).

Meanwhile, Google TV is set to launch as soon as next month. It’s a little bit different because it seems to be a layer that will exist on top of current television offerings. But it will also be pushing online video as well. That could definitely help change the stigma that is still associated with online video versus television.

All of this stuff is chipping away at the cable television stronghold. There isn’t going to be one “killer”, but all of these combined are slowly doing the job. And they’ll continue to get better at it.

There is this statement which I believe is going to be the future:

Eventually, everything, including all video content, is going to be served over one pipe — the Internet

I’ll admit that I am just as lost as most consumers when it comes to these new devices and which is going to do the best job. Right now I am just waiting to get a Roku HD for my birthday so that I can stream Netflix to my HDTV. I know. I am not supposed to know what my birthday present is but I cheated. LOL.

What about you? What device are you looking at and why?

Comments welcome.

Source – TechCrunch

How The Nielsen TV Ratings Work

The Nielsen TV rating system uses 25,000 households in different demographic areas of the country and each household is given a black box to monitor the viewing habits. The households are warned not to change their viewing habits juts to try and make a favorite TV program look good. The households are selected by Nielsen which uses a secret formula to determine which households would make the best candidates. In addition the households are sworn to secrecy that they have a black box from Nielsen, so that they will not be hassled by family, friends, or coworkers to watch a favorite show.

In a recent article it also states that:

So why doesn’t Nielsen just collect data from all of the millions of set-top cable TV boxes around the country?

According to Jon Gibs, Nielsen’s senior vice president for analytic and insights he states:

You know, I think overall, there’s some very interesting stuff that’s come out of set-top box data. [But] there’s some very difficult challenges with using that dataset. You don’t know how many people are watching the TV show at a given time, [just] if the set-top box is on or off. It’s difficult to know if someone is still watching the program or not. We still appreciate the granularity of the data, but accuracy is important. [Ratings data] is the measure of accounting for the TV industry… This is what dollars and cents are being traded upon.

And then there’s the DVR issue. Gibs claims that Nielsen collects data about what shows you’re watching on your DVR the same way other television-viewing is recorded. But Amel insists that actually, Nielsen has no way of knowing what you’re watching on a DVR. “All they can say is, [people] are watching ‘the DVR channel.'” The data on DVR viewing is all extrapolated. And Nielsen assumes that people mostly watch DVR-ed programs within a week, which isn’t necessarily true.

And that gets to the heart of the most important critique of Nielsen — the company isn’t moving fast enough to keep up with the way in which most of us actually do watch television. Not just DVRs, but also video on demand, and viewing online via services like Hulu, iTunes and Netflix instant. Gibs admits that Nielsen isn’t moving as quickly as some broadcasters and advertisers would like to take account of these trends.

I don’t know about you, but I can not remember the last time I had to sit through watching ads wince most everything I watch is from the DVR. Take America’s Got Talent finale. There was no way I was going to sit through all of the ads, nor did I want to watch the acts that were used to fill-in while we rated for the results. I checked the ratings over at Nielsen for AGT, which showed about 10 million watched the finale.

I watched it as well, but on my own terms. No ads, no junk, just the facts on who won.

What about you? How do you watch the tube?

Comments welcome.

Source – iO9.com

Is Netflix Like The Little Engine That Could?

Over at Slate I just finished reading an interesting article about Netflix. I have been a loyal customer of Netflix for many years and have watched as it has improved its service in all areas. Customer service is top-notch and delivery of its movies via mail is just about flawless. I live in an area where Netflix has its own service center and delivery or returns are completed in one business day. When I have had any issues with a bad DVD, Netflix has immediately sent a replacement, even before the damaged disk is returned. Streaming now offers a great alternative for those wish to watch older movies and shows.

In the article it stated the following:

In 2005, Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, called Netflix “a worthless piece of crap with really nice people running it.” Today, that worthless piece of crap has a market capitalization of $6.4 billion. In early 2007, when Netflix first announced its plans to allow subscribers to stream videos instantly—rather than wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail—esteemed tech journalist Om Malik predicted that this move would “soon be relegated to the dustbin of failed ideas.” Netflix has more than doubled its subscriber base since then, and today nearly two-thirds of them use Netflix’s streaming video service.


While its critics were flailing away, the company has continued to grow steadily and spread its influence well beyond the red envelope. One of Netflix’s direct competitors, Blockbuster—which for years was supposed to put Netflix out of business—is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Netflix’s iPad app was widely deemed one of the best available when the device launched in April. And when Apple announced today that its new Apple TV service would stream movies and TV shows, Netflix content was front and center.

What is it about Netflix that causes critics to misread it so badly? Call it the innovator’s paradox: Netflix forged an identity by building a simple business—DVD delivery by mail—that had never been done before. The very fact that this DVD-by-mail idea connected so deeply with consumers led many observers to think that was all that Netflix could or would ever do. Instead, the DVD delivery service—while still vital to Netflix’s revenue—looks more like the Trojan horse of a much wider strategy designed to change how Americans watch filmed entertainment.

Netflix is one of those companies that I believe is under estimated and also under estimated. They will have to pry the DVD or Blu-ray disc from my dying hands before I give up using the service. Plus, I believe they offer real value for only $9 a month.

Comments welcome.

Source – Slate

Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box, Or A Gaming Console, Which Do You Use To Stream Video?

With all of the new devices available for streaming video to a HDTV, I have taking a looking at the devices available. I have been a Netflix users for years and I am on the $9 a month plan which includes video streaming. I also have a 12Mbps Internet speed and have used video streaming on my laptop without issue. I also connected a Nintendo Wii to my HDTV, but notice that the picture quality was just OK. The Wii streams in SD only.

I took a look at the HD Roku being offered by Netflix for about $70. This also includes a wireless connection built into the system. In addition, I know that some of the newest Blu-Ray players now also comes with Netflix streaming ability built-in as well as wireless connectivity. After looking at all of the different connections, I am leaning toward the Roku.

So my question to you is this?

Is a Roku a good device or do you have a better recommendation?

Comments welcome.

Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Apple & Amazon To Cable Companies: We Will Bury You!

I must admit that I am prejudiced when it comes to cable companies and the television service they provide. My experience in having used cable at three different home locations, from three different companies, have left me with a sour taste for cable. I have never experienced such poor picture quality nor poor customer service as I have experienced from the cable companies I have used. But I know I am not alone in my experiences and have once again reaffirmed, from someone else, how poor cable service is.

Last week when I was visiting our kids in Texas, I spent an entire day with my son-in-law who was installing a DirecTV satellite service and two new LED televisions at a residence in Shreveport, LA. The home owner had no trouble describing their bad experience with their cable provider, including no reception on the morning we arrived. They stated they had called the company so much and with poor results concerning reception that they finally just gave up. I am sure some of you who read this may have had similar experiences.

So when I read about companies like Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Apple, and Amazon going on the attack against cable companies, I must admit that it brought a smile to my face. In a recent article it states that:

Just take a look at the big picture. Everyday there is a new story about how one of the aforementioned tech giants is on the verge of something new meant to control our time spent watching content — and much of it from the living room. Today’s story is about Google’s big pay-per-view movie plan for YouTube, a new service they’re hoping to debut later this year with full Hollywood studio support. If they land it, it could be huge. But that’s just today’s example.

On Wednesday, at an event in San Francisco, Apple is widely expected to debut their next iteration of the Apple TV — which will likely now be called the “iTV”. Alongside it, they’re expected to unveil a new layer of iTunes that will allow people to rent television shows for $0.99 a pop. Again, that too could be huge.

But it doesn’t really matter if one of these individual things doesn’t hit it big (and certainly the current Apple TV hasn’t). It’s the fact that all of these giant companies are clearly focused on this one thing: invading the living room and changing the way we consume video entertainment.

And they absolutely should be focused on that space. It’s a multi-billion dollar goldmine of potential that is sitting around begging to be disrupted. Consumers want this — even if many don’t realize it yet.

You see, there are plenty of us more tech-savvy consumers who have long thought about severing our ties with cable television — and some of us already have to varying degrees. Most average consumers simply don’t realize there are better alternatives out there yet, because the truth is that there is no singular better alternative right now. But these services from the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, etc. keep moving forward. And as more enter the game, they keep pushing each other to improve at a more rapid pace.

The sentence that stood out to me was this one:

Most average consumers simply don’t realize there are better alternatives out there yet, because the truth is that there is no singular better alternative right now.

Like the folks I met in Shreveport, LA, they were not aware that a better alternative was available until it was presented to them. Once they viewed DirecTV on their new LED HDTVs, their jaws dropped open. They could not believe how great the picture was and mentioned how pleased they were with the new systems.

Comments welcome.

Source – TechCrunch

The Web Died And We Didn’t Even Know It!

Over at Wired there’s an interesting article on how the Internet has evolved away from Web surfing and more about information being ‘pushed’ to us. The authors state that we Internet users have information sent to us, rather than go looking for it ourselves. This, in itself, had changed the way we receive content and also the way we interact with the Internet. After reading the article I do have to say that my surfing habits have changed since the first time I surfed the Internet back in 1995.

The article states these facts:

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.

Since getting Straight Talk I am also texting more and emailing less. I also use my phone more to send emails as well.

What about you? Are you using the Web less?

Let us know.

Source – Wired

The Web Died And We Didn’t Even Know It!

Over at Wired they have an interesting article on how the Internet has evolved away from web surfing and more about information being ‘pushed’ to us. The authors state that we Internet users have information sent to us, rather than go looking for it ourselves. This in itself, had changed the way we receive content and also the way we interact with the Internet. After reading the article I do have to say that my surfing habits have changed since the first time I surfed the Internet back in 1995.

In the article it states these facts:

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.

Since getting Straight Talk I am also texting more and emailing less. I also use my phone more to send emails as well.

What about you? Are you using the web less?

Let us know.

Source – Wired

Streaming Netflix Via Wii On An HDTV Review (Plus A Cheap Wii)

I’ve been procrastinating for the past month about using the disk Netflix sent to me for getting a Nintendo Wii to downstream movies. Netflix will send you a free disk to be used with your Wii to access movies on demand if you are a member of the $9 a month plan or higher. Activation is fairly simple. You slip in the Netflix disk on an Internet connected Wii, obtain a code, log into your Netflix account, use the code and your account is activated.

My concern was that the Nintendo Wii does not have an HDMI connection, which most HDTVs use for best sound and picture quality. But the game port on my Panasonic Plasma TV accepts the standard connectors that come with the Wii. So I hooked up the connectors and streamed a movie to my TV set. I chose the movie Robin Hood, the one with Costner, to view. Not because I am a Robin Hood or Kevin Costner fan, but because I was just interested to see how good the picture would be.

To my surprise the picture wasn’t bad. Not HDTV 720 or 1080p quality, but good enough to watch without complaints. I tried a couple of other movies and they also were acceptable to watch.

Bottom line is that movies from Netflix on demand service are OK for normal viewing. But if you are an aficionado who demands only the best Blu-ray quality picture and 7.1 booming sound, this may not be your cup of tea.

If you have used Netflix’s on demand service, what is you opinion?

Comments welcome.

PS Looking for a cheap Wii? Check out the Dell site. It has the original Wii for $159.99 plus free standard shipping. Click here.

Facing The Giants

A friend of mine at our church  had recommended this movie to my wife and I, so we ordered a copy from Netflix. I am an avid football fan and I know that God can have an influential effect on players. One only needs to watch professional football to see players gathering in prayer after a game. So I was looking forward to what this movie would have to offer.

Facing The Giants is about a small town high school football coach who, after six seasons, is not able to put together a winning team. Dads of the players want the coach replaced and want the mans head on a platter. The coach is a likable guy who is barely making a living on the paltry pay he is given. Yet this man, during all of this turmoil, is also trying to become a father. The pressures of life build to the point where this man has become completely overwhelmed and has lost faith in himself.

The coach turns to God and asks for his help. Not only to strengthen his football coaching, but to help him in his personal life as well. I don’t want to spoil what happens next but things do start to turn around in his life.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a good movie about faith and how it can help those who put their lives in the hands of the Lord.

Comments welcome.

Rent A Casket Instead Of Buying – Your Loved One Will Never Know!

During my morning surfing, I found a Web site that had recommendations on how to save a few bucks by renting instead of buying. Most of us have done this before — like renting a DVD movie instead of buying one. In fact, I haven’t bought a DVD or VHS movie in over 10+ years. It is cheaper to rent the movie if you want to view it or now you can just can stream it from Netflix.

But one of the recommendations was to rent a fancy casket instead of buying one. On the site it stated:

Rent a Casket

OK, this one may seem excessively creepy at first, but consider funeral costs today.

The average price of a casket alone is $2,000 and can run upwards of $10,000 for a really nice one. Rather than spending that kind of money, rent a casket for the service at a few hundred bucks and later transfer the departed into something more economical for burial. They’re not going to know the difference, anyway.

I have always believed that dying is just another part of life and should not be feared. My wife and I have already paid for a service in which we will be cremated and our ashed put into a urn. I have already confirmed a spot for both of us at out local veterans cemetery. Morbid? I think not. I believe it is just being responsible.

Several years ago I went to a funeral of one of my relatives. The casket was beautifully crafted and reminded me of a fine piece of art. In addition the family had selected the casket be placed into a mausoleum. The total cost of the entire shindig was about $25k.

A few of the other recommendations were to rent power tools and text books instead of buying.

Comments, opinions, and recommendations are welcome.

Source – BudgetsAreSexy

Cable Companies And Networks May Offer Lower Priced Bundles

In these tough economic times, and with increased competition from Google, Netflix and others, the cable companies may start to offer lower priced bundles. Over the years most cable companies added channels which increased the cost of their packages and at the same time annoyed consumers who did not want a ‘package deal’ on specific channels. Most consumers wanted to select and choose which channel were to be included, but these requests have been and are ignored.

But now cable companies and networks are scrambling to keep existing customers who may not be able to continue to pay for higher priced packages. In a recent article it also stated that:

But with a tough U.S. economy, weak job market and competition for disposable income from telecommunications services like Internet access and mobile phones, cable distributors and program makers realize consumers may look elsewhere for entertainment as a way to save money.

“It would be a good thing if we could all figure out a way to have one or more smaller packages that would be attractive to people who can’t afford bigger ones, especially if we could do it in a way that the entertainment companies are still able to finance the product,” said Glenn Britt, chief executive of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable company.

Some Wall Street analysts have warned the cable industry could harm itself by continuing to raise prices well ahead of the rate of inflation.

If cable companies start to offer smaller packages at reduced prices, one could only hope that Dish and Direct satellite companies may follow the lead. But before you start to count your savings, you must remember that there is so much greed out there, that some networks may not be willing to reduce their fees.

Only time will tell how this plays out.

Source – Reuters

Netflix To Stream First Run Movies

Netflix has struck a deal with Relativity Media which will allow streaming of first run theatrical movies to Netflix subscribers. The deal will make it possible for the rental giant to start competing against HBO and Showtime, and allow Netflix customers access to the latest releases from Relatively Media. In a recent news article it stated that:

LOS ANGELES, July 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Relativity Media, LLC today announced a long term agreement through which major theatrically released films owned by Relativity will be licensed directly and exclusively to Netflix for streaming to its subscribers during the “pay TV window.” Traditionally, these films have flowed through Relativity’s studio releasing partners to output deals with premium TV channels.

The deal marks a continued shift in the distribution of major motion pictures in the U.S. Under the agreement, an increasing amount of popular contemporary movies previously encumbered by pay TV agreements with premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz will become available to be streamed from Netflix months – and not years – after their release on DVD. It will be the first time that studio quality theatrical feature films will be streamed via subscription by Netflix instead of being broadcast by the traditional pay providers, and it opens up a new revenue stream for such movies.

Before you start jumping up and down, don’t believe that you are going to be able to view ALL of the latest movies via streaming. It seems this deal currently only applies to the movies under Relatively Media’s control. The company has about 50 latest release movies in their inventory. I would venture a guess that this deal is just one of many that Netflix will be inking in the future.

What is also unknown is whether Netflix will offer a premium service to watch these latest release movies. Currently those using the $8.99 plan or higher can stream movies from Netflix.

Comments welcome.

Source.