What's On?

Apple recently released a new iPod that is capable of playing video. The primary purpose of this device is still audio, but video capabilities are included. I'm excited to test these out. However, that's not the big thing that Apple announced last week. The big thing is the ability to download video content from the iTMS.

People have been speculating for years about video content on the iTMS, and now that it's here, no one seems to care. Sure, Hollywood is whining about wanting their cut, but I'm not seeing the press coverage that I thought I would.

Have no fear. This will be a big deal, but don't take my word for it. Maybe you've heard of HDnet. It's probably on your cable dial right now. HDnet is the baby of a very smart guy, Mr. Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban knows a thing or two about media. His involvement in Broadcast.com made sure he'll be able to do whatever he wants for the rest of his life. Thankfully he's chosen to be the voice of reason and insight in the changing face of media.

I bring up Mr. Cuban, because his recent post to Blog Maverick lays out why the ability to download network television is such a big deal. Today, the programming isn't the product the networks are selling. The ads are the product. The content is just there to keep us tuned in. With the ability to buy the show directly, the content becomes the product, and the content producers stand to make more money than today's model. The post is incredible, go give it a read.

I have now bought two Lost episodes from the iTMS. I purchased the first and fourth episodes from season 2. I bought the first episode because I wanted to try it out. I bought the 4th episode because I screwed up and didn't set the ReplayTV. The episode quality is OK, but not great. File size is about 200MB for the 45min episode and comes in MPEG-4 format. If I run it at double size, I start to notice the compression, especially in dark scenes, which sucks for Lost episodes. Running it at full screen looks bad at only 2 feet away. If I was sitting on a couch, I probably wouldn't notice it as much. Unfortunately for me, I've spent way too much time hanging out in the AV Science Forum. I have now trained myself to spot the video flaws that irritate me. Yay for me. Ignorance is bliss I guess.

This is about the content, but it is also about the convenience. I actually have more than 2 Lost episodes. We bought season 1 on DVD, but haven't watched a single one yet. I guess we're too lazy to put the disc in? (lol) Apple *MUST* release DVD rip capability in iTunes. Having the content on the go will ensure that I watch it, somewhere, sometime.

So, I guess my point is, I'm on board for getting video content pay-per-download, but I'd like to see the quality improve. I know Apple is just testing things and they are serving up content meant for the iPod right now, but I hope it doesn't end there. It does concern me that they haven't offered the ability to download music off of the iTMS in the Apple Lossless format.

I'm not done with this topic. I still have lots to say about the cost of the content and the Front Row software.

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