Friday, March 02, 2007

XBox: The Video Marketplace

Having an opportunity to watch an HD movie has been something I have been playing with in the back of my mind. On one hand, I really want to go with a HD platform, and having decided that Sony can suck my big toe due to their arrogant attitude towards consumers and their incredibly ridiculous pricing scheme, and the fact that I am already a XBox 360 owner, I have been leaning more towards HD-DVD. Suprisingly, the thought never occured to me that I can already watch HD content on my 360 without the extra 200 dollar add-on, right through the Video Marketplace.

So last night I decided to make tonight a night at home with the Mrs. So, we decided to grab the HD version of "Lady in the Water" that my fiancee has been bugging me to see. So, heres the run down of my thoughts on this service.

-Quality of the video was excellent
-The price was right, cheaper than a movie at the theater, plus I get to drink beer
-Better than having to wait in line with smelly people at the video store or waiting in a mailing queue for availability (although, I don't think our movie purchase would have had that problem)

-Download time of movie was too long, should allow a decent amount of buffering to start playing
-Movie selection is very small. We only found maybe 2 other movie really worth watching, 1 of which I can pick up at the 5 dollar bin at Walmart, if I hadn't boycotted them altogether.
-Not enough HD content
-The 24 hour viewing window after hitting play is lame. What if I just want to check the quality, but don't actually plan on watching until the weekend? Seeing as how the d/l time is so long, I think this is a viable scenario, obviously overlooked my Microsoft.

Overall thoughts:
I think Microsoft is sitting on a potential cash cow here. While my local cable provider offers HD content for rent, its not as high of quality (apparantly Time Warner is under the impression that 480p and 720i constitutes as High Def, and they don't need to offer anything better. Of course, average consumers just wont get it), their choices are even smaller, if not more up to date, than the Video Marketplace, and they don't offer television shows, you'd have to pay even more money than the already increased cable fees, and rented content is only good for 1 day. The only real bonus is with a PVR, I can at least record and watch later, and the time from pushing the buy button to watch button is a hell of a lot shorter than on the XBox.

Microsofts plan should be clear to even the most untrained circus monkey (middle management). Get more networks on board with the TV service to get more shows such as, the whole first season of Supernatural (one of the most underrated shows on TV), Lost (although I already watched the entire run up to date thanks to ITunes, but I might be willing to watch it again in HD) and 24. Get more movie studios on board. Hey, they are common grounds kind of guys. Movies studios have unrealistic expectations of DRM, Microsoft has unrealistic expectations of DRM. Both strong arm unsuspecting and individuals unable to defend themselves. If these guys got on the ball, I might gripe less about their tactics if I could actually watch first run movies in the comfort of my own home. This whole experience has only reaffirmed my original belief that the modern movie theater is a dead relic, and should go the way of the dodo.

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