HD - connect me please
I must admit these days of 2007 are far better for HD screens than ever before, and 16:9 widescreen flatpanels are enabling more and more people to get in on it all.... then they discover something: "Hey this LCD HDTV display is really a big computer monitor. I can see everything. Big. "
Connected and unwired:
This is not a pipe-dream, this is what is next, and such a thing removes netflix and physical rentals, provisions a real HD solution of maximum ease and suitability with yet another box connected to your HD display. I see it as a very proper way to get indie movies into your home, and honestly, a lot of these movies are better than you may know. All this takes yet another enablement, by wireless connections, and by computer.. yes yet another box. most are sort of MAC Mini in shape and basic style. Usually the interface is clunky due to the IR remote.
I see a new scenario coming up quickly... where you come home from work, and read the news on your TV, then scroll through some available movie downloads. There are thousands. So you set a few preferences for the moment and pick from a list that is smaller and fits tonight's mood. Start up dinner and a commence the download ... in minutes ( or less ) you can relax in front of the movie or whatever you chose.
Navigation is better when you can point directly to what you want.
We prefer the ability to point that the wireless mouse has, as opposed to the navigation up-down-left-right-enter by IR remote that your basic Comcast/TiVo whatever uses. Use a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, when batteries are fresh it works for about 25 feet.
There is not enough HD content out there.
An HD owner can eaily grow tired of what is NOT available. This opens up a big wide 16:9 door for the IPTV content distributor.
Modes of Use
Apple TV is like generation 0.5 of all this, and though downloads from iTunes are ok, some are finding 2 modes of useage. First mode is Surfing & Immediacy the current situation out there for immediate play, after dismissing Comcraptastic stuff -- then switch to web and check out ABC and Joost ( they are the current chosen few of the moment anyhow ). So What is on Right NOW? Usually what you want to see is not in the short-list VOD or its on at 10pm. Mode 2 is very much the paradigm of Theater going, or nightly broadcast TV, where you chose something to see and set aside or have to make time to do that. That is perfect for the download type of user, HD-DVD viewer or DVD upscale whatever and already typical, get psyched-up to see a show or movie with no interruptions. These mindsets are very different, the immediate mode viewer will tolerate some advertizing, like prime time TV, while the Theater mindset hates every second of enforced pre-movie trailer viewing like current DVDs. The ideal scenario is Video on Demand where the viewer gets a high-quality experience from the HD. Its just not there yet. The web holds some promise... for example:
IPTV Architecture: Centralized or node and peer?
The founders of TiVo are creating a next-gen option for all this: The NYT says --
"Vudu, if all goes as planned, hopes to turn America’s televisions into limitless multiplexes, providing instant gratification for movie buffs. It has built a small Internet-ready movie box that connects to the television and allows couch potatoes to rent or buy any of the 5,000 films now in Vudu’s growing collection. The box’s biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection."
The imagination of the developers seems to include instant access, which is why a dedicated box is really required, in a peer-to-peer workload configuration. The Vudu is really a node in an immense distributed system, like a dedicated subscriber Bit-Torrent optimized for just one sourcebase, the first 10 minutes of everything they have ( ad serving pre-roll and intro segment to the vod content) can be spread all over the planet, and always be just enough ahead of the main load to stay streaming. Of course, this requires an available critical mass of nodes or major nodes ( like akamai has ) to kick it off, with costs decreasing as home adoption takes place.
Sun Streaming System
At the other end of the spectrum is Sun Microsystems, with a no-node nondistributed design, basically centralized brute force delivery. Think BIG... at a whopping 320Gbps per server load, these are monsters designed to live in IPTV over fiber, perfect for FIOS type suburb and city demographics. This would provision stuff like a 50,000 title library, and really get the content availability up to where it should be. Ideally this whole approach is for fiber networks that would handle HD the way we like it, but i suspect that DVD quality is what we will see more. Since your basic internet connection is central office managed anyhow, it just makes sense that this kind of system is right for NOC and datacenter placement. They have a dry but descriptive video: Sun Streaming System
All these IPTV options show promise but at 300-600 bucks per box and some cost per movie, I would really need my HD to be excellent, and have loads of content. The way the web works now, routers and switches are always running into overload conditions that can clobber a real-time stream, making the download-before-play the proper HD option in my opinion, where basically the Video Rental Store is on the screen of your TV. Of course this all has been promised before....and the PS3 and XboX have totally let us down for all the horsepower in the devices, the HD download is talk... so the game network systems sites are promises, but if the devices are connectd and HD is the screen, then at least we have an empowered base installed and ready to buy HD-IPTV. That critical mass is fast approaching, and i think 2007 into 2008 is open season for anyone that wants in on this.
The Paradigm Gear Shift
Between now and 2009 digital cutover, expect to see a lot of paradigm-shift-failure where boardroom decisions are made according to what feels good for the Corp. and by the time such stuff is in play, the IPTV startups are going to be eating their profits. This is because the Film ownership and distribution mechanics of film dealmaking are in very different hands.
And Now what?
The smart film financing and distribution firm will have partnerships across all distribution channels written in contract and ready to put to use. The Theater - Broadcast Special - DVD Release - Downloadable - web/intergrated event stream could make a film stay on the radar for many times longer, maximizing the moment value of marketing ( meaning; the display of the advertizing moment is the impulse-buy mechanism of VOD immediacy ) When done properly, it costs very little to add-in digital and gain more eyeball and wallet access than any Theater to DVD only situation could possibly produce. This is lower cost-of-goods-sold entertainment product with continuous and global cashflow, no need to ship physical products and push for front shelf space.
Content is King:
Unless you are a sports fan, then only 1 or 2 HD shows a week are worth the PVR space... I think this is nuts... there are thousands of hours of HD and 2k works ripe for re-release. Where is it?
... insider tip - keep an eye on this guy, www.charlesferri.com -- he gets it.