By Nick Bakewell, Contributing Writer
There are many avenues by which one can receive one’s daily dose of media, whether you use Netflix or Hulu on your PC, Xbox Live or PSN, regular cable TV (if you’re old-fashioned), etc. The point being that it’s easier than ever to tap into TV shows and movies without ever shifting yourself off the couch. Thus arises the big question: when are discs going to die? We’ve already seen this happen in music; just look at the market share that MP3s hold vs CDs and LPs (those of you who feel cool because LPs are making a comeback should consider re-evaluating yourselves).
The truth is that physical media is dying. Even as massive advances are being made in storage capacity (the data has to exist somewhere after all) client-side storage is being outsourced essentially. That 500Gb external hard drive you just bought? Waste of money, just toss it up into the cloud. If you want to stay current, you’re going to have to trust someone else with your data eventually.
So with that in mind, let’s examine the prospective future of Blu-Ray. Netflix currently offers 720p. Hulu streams at 720p; if you have a PS3 or a Roku box you can get both of these services at 1080p. Apple TV has just been upgraded using a fantastic compression algorithm that allows it to stream almost lossless 1080p, which is only distinguishable from truly lossless Blu-Ray by those who care enough to notice. Even then the difference is negligible.
Currently it’s a case of convenience vs fidelity. Do you care enough about getting the richest blues, the sharpest reds, seeing every pore on Johnny Depp’s face at the expense of almost $30 a disc or would you prefer to spend a one time $100 fee to buy Apple TV and add $7.99 a month to get Netflix in exchange for a minimal loss in visual/aural fidelity? At the rate that streaming technology is advancing, coupled with bumps in bandwidth and compression software, it’s only a matter of time before hard copies of films and TV shows are rendered completely obsolete.
Nick Bakewell is a contributing writer for GenWhy Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.