More Reasons Why Discs Are A Dying Breed

from the you-stored-things-on-plastic-discs? dept

For quite some time now, we’ve mostly ignored the whole “next generation” DVD battle, because the longer it stretches out, the more pointless it seems. If the two warring sides had come to an agreement early on, and actually focused on providing value rather than looking for fancy new copy protection schemes, it might have had a chance. Instead, by not coming up with a single standard, not focusing on getting products to market and not actually adding much that consumers will value, they’ve allowed the market to move on. Slate is the latest publication (in an increasingly long line) to notice that both formats are effectively dead on arrival. The nice thing about the Slate article is it lists out four big reasons why: (1) the internet (2) cable-on-demand (3) pricey hardware upgrades needed and (4) the rise of the hard drive. Any one of these by itself might not be enough, but combine them all with the limitations and compatibility issues and you have a recipe for disaster. What’s surprising is that it seems like plenty of companies haven’t come to terms with this yet, and still believe these next generation DVDs are going to be a big business.

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Comments on “More Reasons Why Discs Are A Dying Breed”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Sorry I don't buy it yet

Waiting to download movies now over the fastest connection in my area under $60 is still extremely painful. This is only going to get worse with HD, the average person is not going to let their computer download for 2 or more days to get an HD movie, they are going to go to Wal-Mart and buy it, take it home and watch it.

Until there is true high speed internet across this country, not the half-assed implementations of FIOS, it will take too much of people’s time to be valuable. Granted my desktop sets idle for days at a time, but I will not wait for movies to download. I downloaded an episode of smallville, it took almost 14 hours with torrents, no way I am doing it again.

Aaron says:

Re: Sorry I don't buy it yet

I agree it is still slow and painful, even with “high speed” connections, but don’t under-estimate people’s desire to be “cheap”… If they are not dying to see something and they can download it for $10 or less verses buying a DVD for $16.99 and up, they will do it. With the way that packaged DVD prices are soaring, NetFlix and Blockbuster will be in business for quite a while too.

Joshua (user link) says:

streaming services can help

I was downloading and watching movies in under an hour with vongo and movielink. Granted the quality wasn’t as good as DVD let alone HD, the speed was ok for my slow ass comcast connection.

Of course I stopped using vongo as the selection stunk, and movielink same with movielink. Then I realized I didn’t care that much about movies anyway. I ended up just getting a media center and having it record stuff I want. (family guy, simpsons, etc)

Still not perfect, but I managed to get all the Hero’s episodes aired to date in under two days, and have it record every new one the second it is aired. I can then watch when I am ready. After two days I was able to watch them back to back.

DittoBox (user link) says:

Re: Re:

480p, 720p or 1080i?

Those are re-encoded xvid versions that are down sampled almost invariably to 480p or slightly less. They’re also stereo, most primetime HD is 5.1 AC3.

An hour of well encoded 720p, mpeg-2, direct from Terrestrial HD video is about 5.5gb. 4.5 if you cut out ads.

Most 480p xvid encoded files are well under a gig, usually around 150-500, obviously depending on quality. And it is a huge quality difference, at least on and HD display.

Anonymous Coward says:

what kind of crap connection are you paying $60 for? there are plenty of compressed file formats, that you can download a movie in less than 1 hour.. so in theory, you could watch it, as it downloads, or streamed even, as long as the server has enough bandwidth.. and as far as an hd movie.. there is what.. maybe 3x the file size? so you could wait about 20 mins, as a decent size chunk of the movie is downloaded, then start your movie as it finishes downloading.

Anonymous Coward says:

so heres a shit load of math for you….
cable ISP = approx 4 megabit
8 bits in a byte
1024kbytes is a megabyte, 1024kbits=a megabit
1024kbits x 4 = 4096,
divide by 8 to convert it into kilobytes = 512
take off about 10% for overhead, = roughly 460kb/sec max speed
an average movie (compressed) =1 gigabyte range (1024 megabytes)(also as 1024kbyte x 1024megabytes) = 1048576,

Jim says:


Good riddance to CDs and DVDs. I have 90% already made the leap to a CD and DVD free life. Face it neither CDs nor DVDs were as industructable as we were lead to believe. In fact I think VHS tapes were more durable. I am going to pickup a wireless router with at least a USB 2.0 and shove a Terabyte Hard Drive in it….anybody anywhere in the house can access movies and with a terabyte I should be able to store enough for now….

ipods in your car is nice but the stereo I just installed in my car has a usb so can load music, podcasts etc on a flash drive (intelligent stick) and am ready to go…I look at the CD drive on the car stereo now and wonder what the heck it is for. Oh yeah…let me rush out and buy a ten disc changer for my car…NOT….CDs and DVDs were a big let down and the faster we evolve away from them the better.

I loved the comment saying TEN YEARS….TEN years are you kidding….lets see WWW is graphically only about 13 years old…

In ten years I hope it is ALL flash memory….less moving parts is MO’ BETTER!!!!


Cada says:

I just dont get it

I just don’t understand down loading movies. The average person has a computer hooked up to what a 17″ maybe 19″ monitor? Yes I know you cyber geeks out there have it already imbedded into your home theater. For the rest of us, who the hell wants to watch a movie on a 19″ screen when they have there 47”+ big screen in the other room. DVD (either standard HDDVD or Blueray) will be more popular then DVD once prices come down. At least until someone makes a MPEG player for the home theater system that is so easy to use grandma can operate it.

annonymous geak says:

Re: I just dont get it

It’s actually quite cheap to get the hook-ups necessary to link your computer to your TV. Under $100 if you’re hardwired and your computer’s not already set up for it, (about $15 for the cable if your computer has the outputs already) and much cheaper than a monitor. So, download movies/music, hook it up to your projector or regular TV with RCA, S-Video, HDMI, or Component video. The latter two are pricier, but if your computer supports HD, you get as good of quality as with an HD-DVD. AND, it really doesn’t take that long to download. I get between 1 Meg and 4 Meg speed on Cable Modem (depending on where I am in the house on my wireless network). I can download a full movie in under an hour when it’s going slow. I start it downloading, go make dinner and eat, pop the corn, turn on the TV, and start the movie. Unlike some other users, I wait until the whole thing is downloaded. It runs without bumps that way, since my processor is kind of old and rickety.

mikhail says:

Re: I just dont get it

uhm.. yeah… I don’t know about you, but my grandmother can’t really operate the dvd player, so…

… and commenting on the “age / how long should it take” debate, CDs are already 20+ years old, the Internet has been around for more than 13 years (let’s not get into the “birth of the internet as we know it now” in the mid 90s – that’s not the point – the technology is much older…). And DVDs, although seen as still “fairly new” technology by a lot of people – people seem to have forgotten that while the whole betamax vs. vhs format war of the early 80s was going on, there were also laser discs, and a couple different formats/versions of discs and players, in the early 80s – so, yeah… all this stuff is old already.

Real new ideas haven’t come around for a while – the major thing effecting basically everything in the tech industry is “how much smaller can we make it” – from speeding up processors by reducing size, fitting more gates on a chip, etc, to refining lasers so that we can burn and read a finer, clearer marking, so we can fit more stuff on the same size.

So, yeah…

pudro says:

Using the aforementioned 460 KB/s, adding in DittoBox’s 5.5 GB/hour, I get 11 GB (2 hour movie) / 460 KB = 23913 s = over 6.5 hours.

Assuming you know you want to watch a movie the day before you are actually going to watch it, it can download while you sleep. Otherwise, this totally sucks.

However, none of this matters. You guys harp about the DRM of the new media (justifiably), but you ignore the fact any downloadable form that the movie industries agree to is going to be DRMed enough that people would rather have BD or HD-DVD. That way any simpleton can easily take their movie to any room of their house, or to someone else’s house and pop it in and play it.

Adam says:

RE: jim's post

“Good riddance to CDs and DVDs. I have 90% already made the leap to a CD and DVD free life. Face it neither CDs nor DVDs were as industructable as we were lead to believe. In fact I think VHS tapes were more durable. I am going to pickup a wireless router with at least a USB 2.0 and shove a Terabyte Hard Drive in it….anybody anywhere in the house can access movies and with a terabyte I should be able to store enough for now….”

heh.. where do i start?

A: dvd average lifespand If you treat it correctly is estimated at 30-50 years. you’re average hard disk? 3.1

B: backup. When you r HD failes, is it backed up? to tape? it’s in your router right? do you have a separate backup machine?

C: X factor. for movie buffs, people who really love good cinema, buying a dvd is not simply “having the ability to watch the movie” its more than that, it’s owning the materials that may come with the disc and the extra features included, commentaries, featurettes, even other full-length features.

no, the dvd, or hddvd, or bluefuckultrabetterthanyourdvd will always have a place

Ken Krause (user link) says:

The real problem with all of it

Sure this site is TechDirt and it’s oriented toward technophiles. But you’re missing the point in downloads v. DVDs/CDs. The average user (read the other 90% of America) stands impatiently in front of their microwaves waiting for the popcorn to finish to watch their movies. They are not going to wait around for 4 hours, or 20 minutes, to download a movie before watching it.

While the selection is more limited, on-demand cable is much more in line with the way Americans think. We want to point, click, and start watching in less than a minute. Until online technology can do that, DVDs and CDs will have a long and storied lifespan.

Mark says:


Give me the Internet version of Netflix. I go to a web page and create a list of movies I want to see (just like Netflix). The movies are downloaded to the hard drive in my PC/Tivo/cable DVR/whatever. Once downloaded, I have the first 3 movies on my list available to watch. The 4th can be slowly downloading in the backgoround, whenever network traffic is slow. It can even download the 4th and 5th movies on my list. When I decide I want to get rid of a movie and get the next one, no mailing a disc! I just delete one of the 3 on my DVR and the 4th is immediately available because it downloaded in the background. People would eat this up. Much cheaper to deliver, immediate gratification, and can deal with huge file sizes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Next Gen DVD's... I hope they stay around

I love the net… like to download and all that good stuff. I work in the IT department so I understand how it all works. Personally… I just don’t care to download movies! It is much more convenient to me to just grab a disc out of my selection and put it in the player. I am however frustrated they haven’t chosen a standard, but when and IF they do pick one and stick to it I would be more than happy. DVD’s stuck around for 10 years… I don’t get on my computer that much and personally don’t have a lot of interest in it after a long day of work. Most people have a lot of trouble with computers and are better off just putting a disc in the drive. My opinion… pick a standard… stick with it… and just as many people that will use comps will use the players. You won’t find a lot of them here by they way… because they aren’t using their computer. 🙂

Still Another anonymous coward says:

General rant (soon to be demoted)

The way to go is on-demand. A cable company may sell you a relatively expensive high-speed connection, but will cheaply give you on-demand streaming access at higher bandwidth for HD cheap for some, or about $4 each for 24 hour or so access. These are legal, and the cable company owns the hard drives and other stuff.

But, this isn’t avaiable yet outside major metropoli, ie the most of the country.

Downloads are good, but how many have a PC with 1080i or 720p capability? Also, my good PC is not near my TV.

Don’t get me wrong – I rolled the desk to my HD TV to connect and watch “The IT Crowd” from the BBC. It was beautiful. Just ranks about 2 out of 10 on a convenience scale.

I enjoyed Comcast with on-demand HD. It even made Lawrence of Arabia look good. But I moved. Now I’m stuck with SuddenLink that can’t deliver a the bandwidth for broadcast HD.

These technologies are good, and may one day replace discs, but the replacements are not ready for the masses yet.

Rick says:

I only plan on getting Blu-Ray or HD-DVD discs through Netflix or Blockbuster Online, as I can’t justify paying $30+ for a movie I’ll most likely only watch once.

But as others have pointed out, once I can download a high quality movie quickly and watch it on my TV – bye bye discs…

The main problem is the US is FAR behind the rest of the world in terms of broadband. In most of Asia 100Mbps for under $30/mo is not uncommon in your home – here it’s just a dream.

foofdawg says:

FIOS half assed?

I live in a major metro area (ok, Tampa) and the options here are probably close to any other major city. These are the options

Roadrunner cable: $44.99 for 5MBdown 768KBup
Verizon DSL: $39.99 5MB (I was getting 3 when lucky)down 512/768up
FIOS (coming soon to my area of tampa) 15MBdown, 3MB up for $44.99 (or 34.99 for the roadrunner speeds)

That doesnt sound like FIOS is half assed to me. Same speed for $120 less per year, or 3x for same price.

But I have to agree that downloading torrent files is certainly not the best way to ascertain your speed, or compare to direct download sites.

With torrent files using Azureus, even with tons of seeders, I’m getting at best 1MB, but I have downloaded files from websites with Leechget at 3-4MB

Jon Gales (user link) says:

Re: FIOS half assed?

I live in Tampa and have used FiOS and RoadRunner (moved away from the FiOS area, it’s not going to make it to downtown where I now live for a while). FiOS is incredibly fast, but once they started stealing customers BrightHouse upped the speed of RoadRunner. Even in my area where I can’t get FiOS, I get around 10 megabits per second (over 1 megabyte per second downloads). It’s actually not too much different than FiOS for most usage, though I do miss the extra 2 megabits on the uptick…

Donald Duck (user link) says:

Lot of Players

Not an expert but just glancing at the subject at hand I would like to see AVCHD advance more and win over a lot of these companies. Obliviously movie studios want to make billions off of movies.

As soon as a movie comes off the theater it shows up on DSS then as DVD’s at the store something you can watch over and over when ever and where ever!

Now one Holly Wood studio was owned by Sony and I’m sure Sony technologies (cameras computers ext) are used in several of those studios along with TV networks which they are involved with a million shows and TV and picture making programs. Then if you rent from Blockbuster or netflix you could be getting a blue ray from them.

So there are a lot of people out there welling to pay huge amounts of money for DISC. Not to mention the video games……with Sony coming out with its new system and all those games going to blue ray there is billions in the making.

Also BLUE RAY R/RW R/RAM players in computers and blue ray HARD DRIVE. More mega bucks going to Sony.

I would just rather have a little Scan Disk of my favorite movies, music videos something portable and easy to store around the TV set. Right now I have like a million DVD’s and CD-ROMs around here and it’s an eyesore and hard to keep track of them.

I might purchase a Sony dvd recordable hard drive blueray disc player and be able to dump the shows I recorded which could be almost 23 hours worth on to one record-able rewritable blue ray disc and watch it on my play station while recording other shows.

I wouldn’t mind more time on ONE DISC because I don’t like having to erase them a lot and taking out one that has some really good shows. I usually buy a 4.7 gb and so far FUJI has a nice DVD-R.

I really like the DVD-RAM 9.4 GB rewritable two sided it holds like 16 hours on ONE DISC it’s a lot more easier to play around with instead of 30 different disc of football games favorite tv shows and so on and so on.

A chicken passeth by says:

For storage, a memory card or flash drive is far superior to a CD/DVD/circular optical drive anyway – and in fact, were it not for the price per GB, it would have taken over this line long ago. For one thing, there are no moving parts or write limitations to get around, and you don’t need expensive components to read them in the first place (unlike the lasers we use in optical drives).

Dan the man (user link) says:

Computer as video

I am still waiting for my perfect couch keyboard (“couchboard”) which is a bluetooth thumby QWERT keyboard with a simple stick pointer for a mouse. I WILL NOT use a bluetooth regular keyboard when my computer is connected to my projector. Why can’t someone wee the boo-coo bucks in a product of this type? Think about it, wouldn’t you want to sit back in your couch and just browse and post using a little “crackberry” type of bluetooth keyboard thingamajig?

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