Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

« SquareMainWine »

For and for

32 words

January 16, 2004, 23:43

Comments

Comment by d.w.: User icon

I used to bother w/ region-hacking my Mac’s DVD drive, but now that region free players are so cheaply and easily available, it seems rather easier to use one of them.

January 17, 2004, 20:24

Comment by ssp: User icon

I don’t like DVDs for their built-in corporate moronicity and user-unfriendliness as a matter of principle and I only own four, all of which are music related and most of which are region-free (interestingly that’s possible), or RC 2. So for all practical purposes I don’t need a region free DVD drive. And I won’t install a patch unless I really need it.

While DVD players have become dead cheap, I am not sure I really want to throw €50 at the makers of cheap consumer electronics for yet another crappy bit of platic for occasionally watching a DVD. My Powerbook should be just good enough for that.

What I found more interesting, was the patch to Apple’s DVD player software that potentially gets rid of some of the ‘forbidden’ messages to skip over the copyright notice etc. That could bring a bit of sanity to the whole DVD thing.

January 18, 2004, 15:35

Comment by d.w.: User icon

As a first pass at a general consumer format for digital video, I think DVD gets more things right than it gets wrong. It improves on the formats it was designed to replace (VHS, laserdisc) in all the important areas: price, video quality, sound quality, convenience, portability, and extra features. The annoyances (region coding, copy protection) are easily worked around with inexpensive, widely available consumer equipment, and even the “unblockable” advertisements you complain of are only present on a small fraction of discs (probably under 25% of the ones I’ve seen). DVDs are, to me, an 80/20 solution: they get most of the way to being useful.

I don’t know if there’s a German equivalent to Netflix, but it’s completely changed the way my family views movies at home. For a flat fee of a little less than €20 we get to rent as many videos as we can cram into a month, which usually means as many as 15 a month, with no late fees. Not too shabby, and worth kissing a little corporate butt for. (You’ve got to choose your battles…)

January 19, 2004, 18:57

Comment by ssp: User icon

It improves on the formats it was designed to replace (VHS, laserdisc) in all the important areas: price,

If you consider paying a lot extra an improvement, then … yes. For all the prices I have seen, DVDs have ranged from being a little more expensive to as much as twice as expensive as videos.

video quality, sound quality,

No doubt there. Although, frankly, I don’t mind too much. While I can see the difference on our large telly, I really have to look for it. As has been noted with the introduction of iChat AV, the human brain is much more forgiving when it comes to poor image quality than it is for sound. And as far as sound is concerned, I think the telly’s speakers are a great leveller as far as sound quality is concerned.

convenience,

The convenience of region codes, lousy menus, centuries passing between inserting a disc and being able to use it, not being able to record and other hassle you mean? The only extra convenience I can see is that you don’t have to rewind (which is of course annihilated by the fact that none of the standalone DVD players I have seen was able to resume playback right where you turned it off.

While I agree that DVD may have the potential for greater convenience than VHS, most of that potential is destroyed either by deliberate corporate evilness or be sheer incompetence of the people designing hard- and software

portability,

I’ll grant you that one. Although I don’t have much use for it.

and extra features.

… that I don’t care about and don’t want to pay for.

The annoyances (region coding, copy protection) are easily worked around with inexpensive, widely available consumer equipment,

Come on Dave, do I look like a Windows user or rather like a person who prefers things that ‘just work’ without any extra thought on my side? Sort-of like inserting a tape and hitting ‘Play’ ;)

and even the “unblockable” advertisements you complain of are only present on a small fraction of discs (probably under 25% of the ones I’ve seen).

I thought more along the lines of the annoying and patronising ‘copyright’ notices. Haven’t seen any ads yet.

That said, I’m not much of a home cinema person. I think it’s not worth buying the equipment (expensive, mostly ugly, wires and all). I’d rather go to the cinema. The main thing I liked about video was the fact that I could record things from TV easily - in fact all but one of my video tapes I recorded myself.

And while I am member of one (== the only decent) video store - I have been there so rarely that you can easily single me out in such a place because I’m the guy who’ll walk to the counter with the tape’s box rather than that little number thingy they have below it…

January 20, 2004, 0:36

Comment by d.w.: User icon

It improves on the formats it was designed to replace (VHS, laserdisc) in all the important areas: price,

If you consider paying a lot extra an improvement, then … yes. For all the prices I have seen, DVDs have ranged from being a little more expensive to as much as twice as expensive as videos.

That must be a regional difference, as DVDs have always been the same price or slightly cheaper than the equivalent videotapes in North America. Early on, a couple of the larger film studios (particularly Warner Brothers) priced DVDs very aggressively to spur format adoption. Sounds like this didn’t happen in the E.U.

And as far as sound is concerned, I think the telly’s speakers are a great leveller as far as sound quality is concerned.

I’d be willing to bet that at this point, many folks watching movies on TV are routing their audio through their stereos, whether they happen to be surround outfits or something more basic.

The convenience of region codes, lousy menus, centuries passing between inserting a disc and being able to use it, not being able to record and other hassle you mean? The only extra convenience I can see is that you don’t have to rewind (which is of course annihilated by the fact that none of the standalone DVD players I have seen was able to resume playback right where you turned it off.

Really? Both of mine (even the dinky $35 one) will optionally resume. It requires a single extra button push. As far as region codes, as I said earlier, what was a big deal in, say 2000, is much less of one in 2004.

That said, I’m not much of a home cinema person. I think it’s not worth buying the equipment (expensive, mostly ugly, wires and all). I’d rather go to the cinema. The main thing I liked about video was the fact that I could record things from TV easily - in fact all but one of my video tapes I recorded myself.

I prefer going to the cinema myself, of course, but for various reasons (economic, the fact that I can get any movie released to video in the US shipped to my home in a day or two for a small, flat fee, etc.) DVD has worked out as a format of convenience in our house. Like I said, DVDs aren’t perfect, but they’re so much more useful than VHS ever was for me. VHS meant going to a physical shop, which only carried the most lamebrained, lowest-common-denominator films, which were often chewed up, involving endless dicking with tracking knobs and all sort of other garbage (don’t forget, you couldn’t copy those, either), and rushing the tapes back to the shop in order to avoid incurring late fees that were often just as high as the original rental fees. To avoid that crap, I’ll put up with the copyright notices and whatever else. 80/20, Sven. :) As I was typing this, our post arrived, and in it were two movies, which we’ll watch and mail back, and we’ll have two replacements before the end of the week. That is how a consumer-friendly service is supposed to work. A little Googling turned up what appears to be an equivalent German service: netleih.de.

And while I am member of one (== the only decent) video store - I have been there so rarely that you can easily single me out in such a place because I’m the guy who’ll walk to the counter with the tape’s box rather than that little number thingy they have below it…

Heh. I only rent videogames at our local video shop nowadays, and I make the same mistake. :)

January 20, 2004, 17:34

Comment by ssp: User icon

That must be a regional difference, as DVDs have always been the same price or slightly cheaper than the equivalent videotapes in North America. Early on, a couple of the larger film studios (particularly Warner Brothers) priced DVDs very aggressively to spur format adoption. Sounds like this didn’t happen in the E.U.

It definitely didn’t over here. While I don’t watch that market regularly, a quick check at amazon.de gave €20 vs. €13 for Terminator 3 in the new and mainstream department and €20 vs. €10 for Magnolia in the not so mainstream department. Prices seem to go as low as €6 for the Virgin suicides on VHS and as high as €40 for special edition DVDs.

I prefer going to the cinema myself, of course, but for various reasons (economic, the fact that I can get any movie released to video in the US shipped to my home in a day or two for a small, flat fee, etc.)

I am sure I can get shipped stuff at that speed as well - but don’t know a place offering the same service in Germany. In addition, I don’t think this system will work for me as getting a video is usually not planned in advance but rather an ad hoc decision to save a boring night.

Like I said, DVDs aren’t perfect, but they’re so much more useful than VHS ever was for me. VHS meant going to a physical shop, which only carried the most lamebrained, lowest-common-denominator films, which were often chewed up, involving endless dicking with tracking knobs and all sort of other garbage (don’t forget, you couldn’t copy those, either),

Mileages vary, I guess. And we must have been going on different roads as well. VHS will win usefulness hands down for me, as I have recorded dozens of tapes full of stuff from TV. DVD didn’t even offer that.

Thou shalt not go to Blockbuster - with all their handy shelves full of identical copies of Titanic or whatever they rent out these days. I admit that probably 90% of the video stores are crap - but that’s just the usual percentage. You’ll have to find the other one. The video store I usually go to has a reasonable choice of obscure and foreign-language films as well. I never had big problems with tracking either. Perhaps I just have a friendly VCR or I rented the very obscure films with the most intact tapes. I never even tried copying videos I rented - if only for the lack of a second VCR to do this.

and rushing the tapes back to the shop in order to avoid incurring late fees that were often just as high as the original rental fees. To avoid that crap, I’ll put up with the copyright notices and whatever else. 80/20, Sven. :)

Frankly that’s not really inherent to the DVD. You could send tapes by mail as well. In fact, my main points aren’t inherent to DVDs either, just to most DVDs you can spend money on these days - thereby supporting that whole rotten industry.

As I was typing this, our post arrived, and in it were two movies, which we’ll watch and mail back, and we’ll have two replacements before the end of the week. That is how a consumer-friendly service is supposed to work.

Doesn’t sound too shabby. Although my ideal customer service would be a pizza delivery that rents out and delivers videos as well. That way I could have instant gratification as well… and wouldn’t need to leave the house. (Which perhaps is a bad idea as getting out of the house is a good thing).

Perhaps the economy of all this is also related to where you live. I can reach most things I need in ten minutes on my bike. While this may be unpleasant when it’s raining, it’s generally quite easy, quick, and even some exercise. If you live in some kind of suburbia with no proper town to go to (which is rather uncommon in Germany) where you’ll have to go by car for a distance (costing time and money), perhaps even have to worry about safety and so on - having things in the mail will be more tempting.

A little Googling turned up what appears to be an equivalent German service: netleih.de.

While I’m not in the market for this for the reasons given above, it’s good to see I could subscribe to a service like this if I wanted to.

Heh. I only rent videogames at our local video shop nowadays, and I make the same mistake. :)

I smell a global conspiracy there…

January 21, 2004, 0:56

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Detroit is notoriously unfriendly to non-automotive travel (for fairly obvious reasons.) Indeed, the geographic sprawl is a factor in most of the USA. I ride my bike all the time, but the only video stores within comfortable biking range are (the dreaded) Blockbuster and a local shop with an even worse selection. The current temperature w/ wind chill is -12° C, so I won’t be riding far today. :)

Netflix mails DVD’s in flat mailers, so the packages end up only weighing a few grams, and thus qualify for the standard (fairly cheap) first class letter rate. You could run a similar service for VHS, but I expect the higher postage costs (and replacement costs for the somewhat more fragile videotapes) would mean they couldn’t offer it at the same price.

January 21, 2004, 19:22

Add your comment

« SquareMainWine »

Comments on

Photos

Categories

Me

This page

Out & About

pinboard Links

♪♬♪

Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.

People

Ego-Linking