Wednesday, October 19, 2005

iPod with video reaction

As probably everyone reading this blog knows, Apple released, depending on who you are listening to, the:
  • the iPod - Apple
  • iPod with video
  • iPod 5G (5th Generation)
One thing that's clear is that this new iPod, with the 2.5" diagonal screen with a 320x240 is the the Video iPod, though some refer to it even as that, but that's not right. A Video iPod would have a widescreen aspect ratio, like the Sony PlayStataion Portable (PSP), and you would be able to download movies for it, something Sony can't figure out, and Sony has the stupid movie library. No this iPod is certainly a music player first, the best iPod yet for people that want their whole collection with them, but it also does some video if you are into that sort of thing. This is a much more tentative step from Apple than I had wanted. 4 huge things are holding back this iPod, or a future Video iPod, from making me upgrade:
  1. Lack of content, you need more TV shows and movies
  2. I can't burn the things I buy from iTunes for playing in a DVD player
  3. I can't rip the content I already have from DVD
  4. The resolution of the video from iTunes is too low for me to replace buying DVDs, which is what has happened with iTunes and CDs
I understand why Apple has to take these steps, legal online distribution of TV shows or movies undermines many existing business models, so everyone is experimenting here, Apple, ABC, and the record labels with music videos. But I want what I want, and I don't want to get video content on physical media anymore or physically tied to the Tivo. If I want to watch the special features of Batman Begins, I don't want to have the disc in the DVD drive. I only want to remember to get the content into the computer once and when I am ready for it, it's there, just like my music is now. I don't have the iPod with video, but I did download two videos to test. I got the music video Kayne West's Golddigger and the 3rd episode of the second season of Lost. At their native resolutions, image clarity looks great. But that's the problem, the native resolution on a 1440x990 17" iMac makes the video from iTunes tiny. So you start doubling it or filling it full screen, and if anyone tells you otherwise there full of it, that looks like crap. You just can't build a permanent library using this as a source. Here is the deal for me, I am done buying the same content over and over again in Super Duper Extra Special Director's Extended Edition. I am not paying DirecTV for the broadcast version of Lost, then pay more for the iPod version, then maybe get the DVD version. I totally want location transparency, I don't want to be tied to even the Tivo anymore. If I go to my in-laws house for the weekend and I want to watch Lost, I want the iPod to be able to do that with stunning HD clarity. Apple seriously the size of the hard drives on the new iPods is enough you could store multiple version of the video, each customized for different format sizes, iPod, SDTV, and HDTV. Apple is keeping the size at 320x240 for three reasons:
  1. don't compete with TV Show DVD revenue (content owner's reason)
  2. Users once they get the file don't have to down-render a HD file to iPod resolution (Apple's reason)
  3. The pipes aren't big enough to have a good experience downloading and HD file
This last one actually looks like a usability problem, but its not. People are already willing to wait DAYS to get a movie from Netflix, a download over broadband is easily faster than this. Heck, Apple could even default to downloading the iPod version and then download an HD version later. I am just not going to buy this stuff over and over again. The power of having videos in iTunes though is the immediacy. With all the above said, I am seriously considering downloading an episode of Kolchak the Night Stalker to see how this show is. I don't have to wait for a re-run, I can get it anytime and watch it when I want. Music videos are potentially even a more powerful draw because just try to find videos playing on MTV now, it's like finding water in the dessert. Seriously, every time I flip through MTV, its some crap reality TV show. Hello, where are the videos! I am just done sitting around waiting for any piece of content I want to watch show up. Tivo really started this for me (Thanks Jeff!), now I want it all when and where I want it. There is very little video content that actually has to be tied to a particular schedule except mine. This is all content that is already filmed, edited, and for all intents, done and ready to be consumed. There is obviously the live event thing that needs to be solved over the Internet in a much better way than live events have been handled before, Apple please do this! How about pricing? If you think $0.99 is a fair price for a song (I do), then $1.99 for a TV show seems like nearly a steal. We are talking about roughly 42 minutes of content vs. about 4 minutes for a song, that's $0.047 a minute for the TV Show, $0.247 per minute for the song, you getting so many more minutes of content for your dollar. But until Apple ups the quality, they aren't going to get another video dime from me. Common Apple, make it happen. Dollars are standing by...