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All posts tagged "movies"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Walmart And Partners Offering Cloud Access To Video

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 06:00 PM

"Tomorrow at 1pm ET, Walmart along with UltraViolet partners Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Fox will announce Walmart's UltraViolet offering. Studio execs I have spoken with say that consumers will be able to bring their DVDs into Walmart, which will then charge the consumer between $2-$4 per DVD to give the consumer access to that movie in the UltraViolet cloud locker system. DVDs will then be stamped at the store, so they can't be used by multiple people and I'm told pricing for converting the DVD to digital will vary based on either SD or HD quality."

UltraViolet is a digital rights authentication and cloud-based licensing system that allows consumers of digital home entertainment content to stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. One of its selling points is that it allows a consumer to store movie or TV titles in a free, online personal library. UltraViolet is deployed by the 70-plus members of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem consortium, which includes film studios, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, cable companies, ISPs, network hosting vendors, and other Internet systems and security vendors. Walmart's service offering is intended to help facilitate consumers using the cloud-based system.

Dan Rayburn over at the Streaming Media Blog has some very interesting analysis of the potential success of the UltraViolet system. In short, he doesn't think it will work. Among the issues he sees as prevailing are the fact that consumers have to pay twice for the same piece of content, it is not easy to use, it requires multiple accounts with multiple websites, there is very little device support, and you need an Internet connection to watch your cloud-based movie. His analysis is well-worth reading if you are thinking of using the Walmart or a similar service, or if you just need to get up to speed with some of the issues in this domain.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Take Five: A Little Diversion Into Hollywood OSes and UIs

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

"Hollywood has always had a way with the OSes and UIs it shows on the big screen. Sometimes they're so far-fetched, all you can do is laugh, other times they're eerily accurate portrayals of future technology, and then there are the few that just make you jealous with envy. Here are a few of our favorites that Hollywood has given use, but give us some slack on what constitutes an OS or UI...Hollywood isn't always clear about that."

Calling all sci-fi movie buffs. If you have a spare five minutes today, have a look through these memorable screen captures of Hollywood movies portraying interesting user interfaces and magical operating systems. You may remember such favorites as Tron, The Matrix, and Avatar, but what about Minority Report, I, Robot, and Dune. MaximumPC has put together a nice stroll down memory lane. Check out the Read link.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Netflix By the Numbers: An Infographic

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 10:01 AM

I knew Netflix was a huge driver of traffic, but it's responsible for 30% of residential downstream Internet traffic in North America during peak periods. Wow! And who knew that the PS3 was the #1 device used for Netflix? The rest of this infographic is equally eye-popping. Check it out.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Your Digital Convenience Price Threshold?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

In the tug of war between atoms and bits, how much does it take to sway you one way or another? Digital download or buying DVDs - which way do you roll? I bought the first episode of "Breaking Bad" on iTunes a few weeks ago, watched it yesterday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Since I don't currently have an active account (it's a DVD rental service) I'd be looking at buying Breaking Bad season one. How do the numbers work out? Read more...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3D Movies May Be Losing Appeal

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:30 PM

"So much for the 3D movie revolution. The novelty has apparently worn off and Americans are now opting for cheaper, less gimmicky 2D movies, such as the recent huge hit "Hangover 2." And with a recent bunch of bad headlines, shares of RealD, a 3D technology company, are crashing -- down 11% today."

I have to say that this is something I too have wondered about. Is the 3D craze just a fad? Do we really need to buy 3D TVs? Over at the Business Insider website an article with some industry statistics suggests that, at least in the United States, interest in 3D movies is waning. One of the issues seems to be that few movies are really taking advantage of the unique experience 3D could provide the viewer. While exceptions exist (like Avatar), many movies provide an almost gimmicky 3D experience, one that viewers tire of and are not willing to pay extra for. The Read link provides some statistics to potentially back up your view.

Tags: movies, 3d

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TV Has Gone Crazy...It's Going to be a Few Ugly Years

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 12:00 PM

"After more than a decade of false starts, web TV is here -- sort of. I'm talking about more than just streaming a sitcom on my laptop. We know the web has the power to make any media distribution system cheaper and more efficient. This is different. Thanks to streaming video services like Hulu and Netflix (NFLX) and new portable devices such as the iPad, we've begun to expect that TV should be more like the web itself: social, mobile, searchable, and instantly available."

This article definitely strikes a chord with me - and nicely summarizes the incredibly complex TV landscape, pointing out the reasons why we're unlikely to get what we really want any time soon: the ability to watch any TV show or movie on any device we have, anywhere we are. This is an ugly time for the TV/movie industry as they figure out how to offer consumers what we want, while still trying to preserve their fat profits...and you can guess why we haven't seen much in the way of good solutions so far.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Netflix Beefs Up Its TV Content With ABC/Disney Content

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"The agreement, brokered by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, will add significantly to the growing selection of movies and TV episodes that can be streamed from Netflix. Once made available to Netflix from Disney-ABC - which, for relevant programming, will be no earlier than 15 days after initial telecast - episodes can be streamed instantly with Netflix memberships starting at $7.99 a month."

Since Netflix came to Canada in September, I've heard the same complaint over and over again: poor selection. I don't know if we have less choice in Canada than you US Americans do - I'd guess probably - but I still like Netflix because I've kept my expectations in check. I mean, it's $7.99 per month, which is only slightly more than the cost to rent a Blu-ray disc from Blockerbuster where I live. Unlimited content for that price tag is going to come with some limitations, but the sooner Netflix can beef up their catalogue, the naysayers will have even less to complain about for their $8.

What I want to know is why the heck can't I tag shows to watch later? When I'm browsing the listings looking for stuff, the only way around this is to start watching a show, then stop it, as a "hack" for having a list of stuff I want to watch. That's uber-weak. Still, for $8/month I remain a very happy Netflix customer!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Pre-Ordered a Boxee Box: Have You?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

Last week, I placed a pre-order for a Boxee Box (you can too via this handy pre-order link!). Why? Well, I've been watching the network/local media player space evolve over the past few years, and I've yet to implement any of them. I've seen two basic types of devices:

  1. Devices that offer superior technical capabilities in terms of files (ISO rips, etc.) and formats supported (every video codec under the sun), but lack any semblance of true usability, often featuring awful user interface, painful performance, or both. I'd put most of the dedicated network media players in this camp; Popcorn Hour, efforts from Seagate, Western Digital, Asus, etc.
  2. Devices that offer superior user interface and usability, but lack broad technical abilities; they're often limited in terms of file types (no ISO support), codecs, and are very mainstream in their support of content. I'd put Windows Media Center, and anything based on that (Media Center Extenders), in this category along with the Xbox 360, Apple TV, etc.

I've wanted a device that does both, and it looks like the Boxee Box may be the closest I've come so far. I've messed around with several of these devices over the years; I even bought an Acer Aspire Revo and installed XBMC on it in the hopes that I'd finally be able to do what I wanted. It failed. Read more...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Would You Pay $20-$30 to Watch a New Movie at Home?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:52 AM

"Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Co. are in talks with the largest cable TV systems to offer films for as much as $30 per showing soon after they run in theaters. The studios are talking with In Demand, a partnership of Cox Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., Bob Benya, chief executive officer of In Demand, said in an interview. Disney is also discussing streaming films on Web- linked devices such as Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox console and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, people with knowledge of the talks said."

So would you pay $20 or $30 to watch a brand-new, just released to a theatre movie in the comfort of your own home? I'd might pay $20, because that's about the price of two movie tickets, but $30 would be a bit too much in my opinion. I have a nice Toshiba 72" TV coupled with a set of Orb Audio 5.1 speakers, so my at home theatre experience is quite fulfilling. And, certainly, it's valuable for me to have the flexibility of watching a movie at home; no one talking behind me, no one kicking my seat, and (presumably) a pause button for bath room breaks. On the other hand, a 72" TV pales in comparison to the truly BIG SCREEN experience of a newer theatre rocking a digital projector.

Where do you weigh in on this? Would you pay $20 to watch a brand new movie at home?

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Journey to a Media PC in the Living Room

Posted by Don Tolson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

Here's how it all started: like many people (and I would guess a majority of DHT readers), building my home theatre started slowly. First it was the big screen TV from Costco. That was pretty cool as we hoisted it up on the wall, but then we needed better sound, so it was off to the audio shop for a 5.1 receiver/amplifier and so on and so on -- bit by bit getting pieces of equipment and jury-rigging them together as they are added. Eventually, it got to the point where I was the only one in the house who knew how to get everything working (which is quite the accomplishment, given that I have two pretty techno-saavy teenaged sons!!). Read more...

Friday, August 27, 2010

YouTube Launches Movie Section

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 04:35 PM Yes, it's finally here - but it's not exactly off to a big start. There are about 400 movies in the collection, but I haven't heard of any of them. I can only imagine how hard it would be for YouTube to get any good content in here from the start - we know that the content providers hold on to their content with fierce determination, even when there are paying customers willing to buy it. So is this just an experiment from YouTube's perspective? Or the start of something much bigger? I find it hard to believe that the single ad at the beginning of the video would be enough to pay for the bandwidth and server resources used. My guess is that by this time next year, YouTube's movie site will be history.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blu-ray Digital Copy: Only a Good Experience for iTunes Users

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

There are a lot of things that I don't like about Blu-ray as a format, but as the industry has settled on it as the physical standard for HD discs, things have slowly started to improve. One such improvement is the increased proliferation of Managed Digital Copy on Blu-ray discs. It works like this: in many new Blu-ray packages, you'll have the Blu-ray disc, a regular DVD, and a small card with a code on it. When you insert the regular DVD in your computer, you'll typically get an auto-loader (pictured above) for the movie, and it will give you the ability to transfer a DVD resolution (or lower if they offer a portable device version) copy of the movie to your computer in one of two DRM-laden formats: iTunes MPEG4, or Windows Media Player WMV. In each case, the code you're provided is used to authenticate the WMV and MPEG4 versions of the movie. The neat part is that you can get both the iTunes and Windows Media Player versions of the movie - I did this with four Blu-ray discs I purchased. Read more...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2000 Movies on a Single DVD? You Betcha'!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"Last month, GE revealed that its research scientists had discovered a way, using holographic technology, to store 100 DVDs worth of information on a single standard DVD. What a difference a few weeks make. In what can only be seen as a "serving" (or pwning) of the GE researchers, the B-Boys researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, have gone way past 100 and on to 2,000. While standard DVDs are made with three spatial dimensions, the Aussie researchers added two more. Using nanoparticles--extremely small bits of matter--the Swinburne team was able to introduce a spectral (or color) dimension and a polarization dimension."

Let's get this right out of the way first: the researches are talking about a 5-10 year timeline on when the methodology for imprinting these discs would be commercially available. It's fascinating technology, to be sure, but as they point out in the article, even if you could fit every James Bond movie onto a single disc, how many people would be willing to pay the $300+ it would likely sell for? Still, business models aside, this is yet another example of how nanotechnology is going to shape our world over the next decade.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

D-BOX Motion Code Hits The Theaters

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 PM

"With “Fast & Furious”, D-BOX will introduce theatrical moviegoers to the added dimension of realistic D-BOX motion effects, providing an innovative and immersive experience. For the release of “Fast & Furious”, D-BOX will have two theaters deployed with exclusive viewing areas that are equipped with special D-BOX-enhanced seating."

Now I can agree with the idea that movie theatres need to provide a lot of extras to compete against the home theater market, but I can't say I'm sure that this is will really keep me interested. D-BOX implements several technologies to create the sense of motion while watching a movie. It's very similar to those motion adventures that were all the rage in the 80s and 90s. I remember as a kid going on one of those "trips" at the base of the CN Tower. It was fun and entertaining, but I also recall some who went on the trip who reacted, uh, poorly. I'm sure that D-BOX can provide a really interesting experience, but the idea of me jiggling left and right for two hours makes me think that some parts of my body might not appreciate this latest venture into movie immersion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VuNow PoD From Verismo Coming December 15

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 PM

"Consumers are spending hours on their PC watching videos online. comScore recently reported that Americans viewed more than 11.4 billion videos for a total duration of 558 million hours during the month. YouTube alone had 5 billion video views in July 2008. More than 142 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 80 videos per viewer. VuNow will enrich the online video viewing experience by bringing the videos directly on TV instead of the PC. You can enjoy movies, TV shows, sports, live events, special interests, travel and user-generated content, from content owners, content aggregators and video portals around the world! You may be surprised by what’s out there on the Internet!"

YouTube, vtap, CinemaNow, videos stored on your LAN, this lilliputian device seems to handle it all. It even downloads videos via BitTorrent. The best part? It starts at $99. It comes in Standard and High Definition models and connects to your network via Ethernet, though a WiFi module is available. If it does all that the manufacturer, Verismo Networks, claims it will do at that price, it definately looks like the video playback device to get, trouncing AppleTV, Windows Media Center and the Netflix player. Unfortunately, it doesn't record TV, but it looks like it can act your main gateway to watching movies and videos. Anyone else as excited about this wee playback box as I am?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekend Project: Streaming Netflix On Your Xbox 360

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 06:00 AM

"Netflix subscribers, if you've got an Xbox 360 and a Windows Vista PC, you don't have to shell out $99 for Roku's Netflix Player box to get your Watch Instantly library on your TV screen—you already have everything you need. Using the free Windows Media Center plug-in, vmcNetflix, you can turn your Xbox 360 into a Netflix Watch Instantly box. Here's how."

So a couple weeks ago we posted a link to a review of the $100 Roku Netflix Player, but this week we bring you a way to stream Netflix movies for free on your Xbox 360+Windows Vista PC! Lifehacker has posted detailed instructions for setting up the vmcNetFlix plugin on Vista and how to get going in a few minutes. Keep in mind this is beta software, so it may be a little buggy, plus there's a very good chance it violates the Netflix terms of use (since it downloads the video to your PC), but if you're feeling like a daredevil, willing to take a risk, try it out and let us know how it works!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Apple Premieres Movies on the iTunes Store in Canada and UK

Posted by Suhit Gupta in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"Apple today announced that movies from major film studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), Sony Pictures Television International and Lionsgate and Maple Pictures are now available on the iTunes® Store in Canada ( Movie purchases and rentals feature iTunes’ legendary ease of use, which makes discovering and enjoying movies as simple and easy as buying music on iTunes has always been. The iTunes Store in Canada features over 1,200 films available for rent or purchase, with titles available for purchase on the same day as their DVD release, including recent blockbusters such as..."

Well, I am sure you know that they will have the latest releases. If you are curious about their pricing - movies are available at CAN$9.99 for catalog title purchases, CAN$14.99 for recent releases and CAN$19.99 for new releases. iTunes Movie Rentals are CAN$3.99 for library titles and CAN$4.99 for new releases, with high definition rental versions priced one dollar more. Much like in Canada, there is a similar announcement for the UK as well, with a similar pricing structure.

Tags: Apple, movies, iTunes

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Want An Easy Way to Play Your Netflix Content on Your TV? Try Netflix Player by Roku!

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

"If you're a Netflix subscriber you may have noticed that in the last year or so the company has rolled out a Watch Now option that lets you instantly watch some of the movies and TV shows in the Netflix library on your Windows PC with a broadband connection. More recently, in upgrading its digital offerings, Netflix has taken things a step further by separating out the Instant Queue from your DVD Queue. While the all-you-can-eat streaming video option is a nice perk for users (it's available to any subscriber on the $8.95 per month plan or better), the real dream for many people is that instead of watching movies on your PC's monitor, you cut out the computer completely and go right to your TV. Well, with the Netflix Player by Roku ($100) that has become a reality."

CNET reviews the NetFlix Player (made by Roku) and gives it a solid 7.7. This little box connects to your TV and the net (via wired or WiFi) and allows you to play your Netflix "Watch Now" streaming content directly on your TV (without having your PC turned on). It only streams video at 480i, but is capable of higher resolutions, although, for now available bandwidth is a limiting factor here. One cool thing is you can start a movie on your PC, then automagically resume the same movie from the same spot on your Netflix Player on your TV. One thing I didn't like is that you can't add new "Watch Now" content to the queue directly from the player, you have to do this from your PC. I guess this isn't too bad as long as you fill up your queue beforehand. What do you Netflix users out there think about this thing? How about non-Netflix users, would this be a reason to make a jump to their service?

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