How do you get your movies? Xbox Live, of course!

Matt Barton's picture

I happened to catch this little blurb on maxconsole about what Bill Gates told USA Today. Apparently, they asked him his thoughts on the HD DVD/Blu-Ray war, and he responded that it didn't really matter because soon everyone will be downloading movies (and games, I'd guess) rather than watching them on discs. His answer strikes me as dead-on. However, I'm not quite sure if he means that people will be streaming movies or downloading them and storing them, perhaps temporarily, on a hard drive or perhaps burning them to their own discs.

Just for kicks, I tried out the downloadable movie thing built into the new Windows Media Player. If you have a good connection, you can download a movie in about an hour (it appears to vary) and watch it once, then as many times as you want over the next few days. After that, I'm assuming it deletes itself (I just deleted it myself). It cost about $6 if I remember correctly, though I purposefully picked a movie based on its cheapness.

I have to admit, I have a considerable DVD collection and have not watched any of these films more than once with only two or three exceptions. The main reason I bought many DVDs was so I could incorporate some of the clips into my PowerPoint presentations, but unfortunately the copy protection on the discs makes this impractical (if not impossible). For instance, I like to show a clip from the Princess Bride to illustrate logical argument (remember the Sicilian's argument about the poison?). If anyone knows a way I can do this more easily, please let me know. I've been having a VERY hard time doing it with all the copy protection nonsense. Since I'm using this for teaching purposes, it should be covered under fair use.

Anyway, I have been watching my television via download lately, though the quality is not the best. Many of the files I download are highly compressed, but look decent on a smallish monitor. However, I'm sure they'd look ghastly on a big screen.

I also want to tie this in to an article I read in Rolling Stone about MP3s. That article was complaining that people have stopped caring about sound quality and are content to listen to mp3 files, even though they are noticeably inferior to CD or even old fashioned records (I can confirm this to some extent with mp3s, but not records). I have noticed the mp3 issue mostly with speech (podcasts, lectures, etc.) Many people recording or compressing these must feel that sound quality is not an issue as long as you can make out what the speaker is saying. I agree to some extent; on the other hand I've heard recordings where you can hear the speaker smacking his lips or sipping a drink and so on; very unpleasant.

I guess the point I'm driving at is whether we care enough about quality to sacrifice the convenience of just downloading or streaming vs. seeking out a disc (particularly a blu-ray or next-gen disk). Is it worth the trouble and expense of acquiring a next-gen disc to watch a movie in all its glory, or would you be ok with streaming or downloading it at inferior quality (but at a much cheaper or even zero cost?) I'm obviously assuming here that we won't be downloading or streaming video content at the same quality as next-gen discs anytime soon. Even with high-speed broadband, I can't imagine downloading an entire blu-ray disc's worth of content. Assuming I was willing to wait however long it would take, there'd still be an issue with storage.

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Bill Loguidice
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He probably means a virtual system - no discs, not even user created ones. That's how XBLA works now with games - you store them on your hard drive (or memory card for the less fortunate), but are free to delete them at anytime, as they're available for re-download from the server (a record of your purchase is tied to your XBLA user ID). This also applies if you get a new 360 system and don't have a means to transfer one hard drive to another - you would re-download the stuff you already purchased.

And yes, right now (and for some time already) you can download hi-def movies (and other) at the same approximate quality as HD-DVD/Blu-Ray/Cable/Satellite now. Most downloads though cap out at 1080i, while the disc formats tend to cap out at 1080p. It would be trivial though to update that as demand dictated.

What I've noticed though with my HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies that I have now, there are even more extra features than a typical DVD had, which is something that the downloads expressly don't offer. Discs still have their place, but you're right, I'm like you in that I have a large DVD library, but rarely watch any of the movies or special content more than once (and sometimes not even that - we have a backlog)! Ownership is nice, but I'm not totally opposed to virtual ownership - it definitely takes up less shelf space!



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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yakumo9275
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The problem, HD content for

The problem, HD content for movies is like 25gb.. Where can you download that in any kind of time without amazing data charges? A lot of cable internet has bandwidth caps, dsl often doesnt but its slow.

It just seems not quite ready for mainstream yet... I dont think it will be for quite some time.

-- Stu --

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Bill Loguidice
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yakumo9275 wrote:

The problem, HD content for movies is like 25gb.. Where can you download that in any kind of time without amazing data charges? A lot of cable internet has bandwidth caps, dsl often doesnt but its slow.

It just seems not quite ready for mainstream yet... I dont think it will be for quite some time.

-- Stu --

I don't recall having any issues, frankly, downloading hi-def content. You can even start watching before it's finished. I don't think waiting to watch your movie a little while is a big deal either. You don't have to wait until the last minute. I'm also not aware of any cap my cable company has in regards to bandwidth. We're also talking strictly the content here - the movie or TV show itself - not the extra features. I'm sure that cuts the file size down.

With that said, typically cable's on-demand is the same price and is just as convenient. I'm also partial to physically owning movies if the cost is reasonable, but have no specific issue with digital ownership...



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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yakumo9275
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Well, I know with my DSL,

Well, I know with my DSL, 25gb would take a day or more to download. I couldnt imagine doing that, especially when you go to the store and rent 2 or 3 movies to cozy up to on a wet weekend. Trying to download 75gb would be exhausting.

-- Stu --

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Matt Barton
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75 gb

I recently switched to Charter high-speed--by the way, NEVER, EVER, EVER go with Clearwire Wireless unless you want to be royally screwed by horrible speeds and a mafia-like contract. Shysters, crooks...Anyway!

Even with Charter I couldn't easily download 75 gigs. For me, the bigger problem would be the storage space. I mean, how many 500 gig hard drives do you want on your system? My guess is that it'd take a lot of processor and memory just to handle that kind of storage. I'd much rather have content that I don't use on a regular basis stored on removable media. Then again, I do tend to be a packrat when it comes to data; never want to delete anything. I have hundreds of DVD burns here with backups and so on that I will probably never look at again.

Also, I agree with Bill about the movie ownership thing. There's something to be said for buying a DVD and having that film permanently in your collection, particularly if they've done a good job with the packaging and extras. Plus there's the benefit of pretty much being able to watch that DVD just about anywhere; I mean, if you don't have a DVD player in 2008 c'mon! Even my grandparents finally made the leap, and I thought they'd be committed to VHS forever (they still have many movies they recorded off their satellite TV back in the 80s! Great fun watching the recorded TV for the commercials).

The problem with the virtual solution...well, many problems. For one thing, somebody else has your data--how secure is that? I wouldn't feel comfortable with someone going through my hard drive; I even have a sort of tacit understanding with my wife that we don't use each other's computers except in emergencies or with permission. Under no circumstances would I want her going through my hard drive, and I wouldn't do that to hers either. I know I'm being a hypocrite to some extent because I use gmail and google docs, etc., but that's one thing--I don't want, say, the RIAA or what have you getting access to my mp3 collection. I also always feel funny about buying any mp3s that aren't totally free (such as the ones Amazon sells now). I don't want to have to buy the thing again at some point down the road, no matter what.

Then again, I can certainly agree about the clutter issue. I am now feeling more positively predisposed towards buying CDs, but I'd still worry about having towers of CDs everywhere.

Egads, it does seem silly to have about 300 years worth of music in various formats sitting around here. It's not as though I'd ever get to listen to all that, much less play all the hundreds (thousands???) of games sitting around that I haven't played. I was trying to play all the MAME games I had downloaded, but even that got to be so incredibly tedious that I gave up. I couldn't even get through all the NES or SNES games that way--after awhile you realize that there's a damn good reason why most of those games are forgotten.

Really, I can see the benefits to having a limited but superior selection. Maybe I'd be more inclined to enjoy a game I'd just spent $60 for, since I doubt I'd be able to buy many games for a console and thus would be forced to play fewer games but play them more often.

Then again, right now about 90% of my gaming is dedicated to World of Warcraft. Really, guys, you should try it out! I am on the uther server with two alliance characters (Algon, Pipple) and now a horde character (Anaximander). We're doing voice chat when possible. There is a free trial, but you won't get access to voice chat unless you buy the game. BTW, if you're going to buy it, go for the battlechest, since it has a hint book you'll find useful and the full expansions.

Damnit, I want more Armchair Arcaders in the game! Then we can start our own guild. C'mon, Bill. :P

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Bill Loguidice
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Get a 360 already!

Sorry, Matt, you have to come over to the dark side of console gaming first! ;-)

It IS tempting as my wife and I enjoy and regularly play action RPGs together, but between the monthly fees and our erratic schedules, I just don't see it happening with WoW.



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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