Digital media is quickly becoming the standard for entertainment media sales. Anyone who is unsure of this only needs to look at the untimely demise of Blockbuster. The company got its blocks busted because it did too little too late, failing to secure its share of the digital rental market before Netflix became the de facto standard (Parr, 2010). With the market shift towards digital video rental, a shift to digital video purchases cannot be far behind. What makes them worth the trouble? That honestly depends on your entertainment media tastes.
Why Virtual Is Better
It’s true. A vast digital media library really isn’t all that impressive. Still, a digital media library does save space and the cost of losing a movie due to moving, unruly children, etc. There is no chance for scratches or unexplainable, disc-consuming substances to ruin that romantic evening with your significant other. You simply turn on your TV, your digital media device, and you are well on your way towards great entertainment.
In addition, you’re not required to locate the disc, put it in the player, realize your wife doesn’t want to watch “The Shining” for the fifth time this month, get up, put the disc away, find the one she wants… you get the picture. All you have to do is stop what you’re playing, browse to her favorite genre, locate the movie, and play. In other words, digital media takes a lot of the argument (and needless exercise) out of picking the right movie for the moment.
Rights Shrinkage and Quality Capping
Every rose has its thorns and every technology its drawbacks. With digital media, the “thorns” happen to be quality and ownership. The beautiful thing about owning a DVD is that it is yours, period. You can take it to someone else’s home to play, let someone borrow it, or sell it to a consignment store to get something you’d enjoy more. You can’t do that with digital media. The owner is not you. The owner is the company who sold you the right to download the movie. That’s right. You bought the rights to the media, not the media itself. So, all those cool things you could do with your DVD’s just got reduced to a small sliver of options.
Another issue that may steer you away from digital downloads is quality. While the technology to produce streaming, blu-ray quality media exists, most streaming providers aren’t delivering this top quality media. While Amazon provides rentals in “HD”, its movie purchases are all locked in SD quality. Netflix provides similar quality rentals, but it is not real HD. Both Amazon and Netflix display the movie at 720p resolution, but the frame rate is still the same as SD media, which gives a false sense of HD quality (Netflix, Inc., 2008). Neither service streams movies in 1080p (Foresman, 2010).
The Tipping Point
What is the right decision for you? That depends on your life circumstances and media tastes. If you’re the proud owner of a self-propelled, whirlwind of destruction (a.k.a. a child), digital media might be the right choice for you. The same goes for those of you who move often or who throw wild parties. If it’s digital, there’s nothing to break. On the other hand, if you like having full rights to the movie you paid for or are an stickler for top video quality, digital media may not be the right thing for you just yet. Ultimately, each of you will need to weigh your options and find what is tolerable and most economical.
Foresman, C. (2010, September 24). Hands on: Roku rocks as it slims down, adds 1080p support. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from Ars Technica
Netflix, Inc. (2008, November 6). Encoding For Streaming. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from Netflix: The Netflix Blog
Parr, B. (2010, September 23). The Fall of Blockbuster; the Rise of Netflix, Redbox and Online Video. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from Mashable