Monday, August 18, 2014

Look Ma, No Disc: Digital Streaming Is More Than Just Convenient

In the beginning there was the videocassette and the consumer said it was good — now you could watch a Hollywood movie at home at your leisure. This was followed by the optical disc, first the DVD with resolution better than the analogue TV, and then the Blu-ray disc for high-resolution viewing on a high-resolution HDTV. The next, and perhaps last stage in this evolution of ownership of viewing is streaming. Streaming is like magic because it’s there when you need it, and not there when you don’t. It has no physical presence. Is that good? You bet it is!

So let’s look at the reasons why streaming content is superior to having to own a physical disc.


“Where’s the disc” is a game few want to play when it is time to watch something. Nor is there any joy in opening a DVD box to find it holding the wrong disc or, worse yet, empty. Streaming content is kept for you on the “Cloud” — a fancy way of saying it’s on a server that is being maintained and cared for by another (such as a movie studio or streaming content provider). When you want to watch your content, the server provides it to the viewing device (be that a TV or a mobile device like a tablet or a laptop, etc.). The server is responsible for knowing that the content belongs to you, for getting it to the device and for playing it. All of these responsibilities have been taken out of your hands.


A disc needs to be kept in a safe place away from prying hands (i.e., kids) or chewing teeth (i.e., pets). You go to get the disc but your significant other has put it somewhere that you don’t know where — and he/she isn’t around. Sure it would be great if you could beep your keys to find it like your car, but nobody’s thought of doing that yet. So you look and if you’re lucky, you find it. If luck isn’t with you, you get to go back to doing the accounting for the month’s bills. But if the content is being streamed, it’s being held for you where you can always access it. On the “Cloud.” And it doesn’t matter if you are at home or in a hotel or wherever. It’s your content and it’s being kept for you to watch when you want to.

And for those ask why they should still get a Blu-ray player when they can stream content — the response is “Yes” because not every bit of content has been digitized and put online yet. Plus it’s a lot easier to take a Blu-ray player to somewhere else — for example, when visiting the in-laws or at a friend’s house, because this will make streaming your content easier to do once connected to the home network (especially since most BD players now feature wireless WiFi connectivity).

Screen Resolution

This is the only area where user sensibility must come into play — because the resolution of the video being seen on the TV isn’t guaranteed for streaming like it is on a disc. What must be considered are variables that affect the “speed” of the Internet connection sending the movie or TV show to the TV. The viewer will need to consider whether the server is being requested by many, many people looking to view the same content, for example. The home network must be allowed to concentrate its efforts on receiving the most stable and highest resolution signal possible: others using the home network (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) need to desist for the duration of time in which the content will be viewed. This will make sure that the streaming (also being buffered by the TV) can be of the highest resolution possible.

Streaming is attractive because it’s convenient. Having a HDTV or a 4K Ultra HD TV to take care of the streaming means using the latest technology to ensure a quality image. A quality image that is going INTO the TV as well as being displayed ON the TV.


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