State of Video, as I see it. Part II: Set Top Boxes

    Preface: The information contained within this article(s) is only given for informational purposes. Macgasm and its authors do not condone or support the violation of copyright. We cannot be held responsible for the actions of the reader of this article. Statutes differ depending on locale, so consult the laws for your region. There are many options for consuming video on your computer or even on your High Definition TV. Whether it’s a Mac, Windows or even a Linux flavor, the options for video have expanded exponentially over the past several years. Back in the early 2000s, online video was a figment of many people’s imagination. Video was compressed so horribly that nothing more than a few minutes of video could be tolerated, let alone downloaded. Now, with the explosion of broadband and the increased speeds available to consumers, the video market has grown to include the masses. There are several ways to consume video on the Internet. Throughout this multi-part article, you will learn about many of the differing ways to get your video fix.With video coming across every type of medium, having a set top box is probably the most common way that people obtain their videos, other than physical media that we’ve come to rely on in the past. Many users don’t realize that they’re even streaming video when they order videos from their cable or satellite provider’s video on demand service. These are streaming directly from the provider to the set top box. Sadly, these videos cannot generally be recorded for later viewing. When a customer purchases a video from their provider, they are generally given 24 hours to watch this video. For many, this is plenty of time, considering when they go ahead and purchase a video they expect to be able to get through it within the 24 hour rental limit. In addition to the use of a cable or satellite provider’s set top box, there are a few others. One of them is Vudu. Vudu is a box that allows you to purchase content from them to store. Vudu claims that there is no latency with downloading. With Vudu you have the ability to store 100 hours of purchased movies with unlimited rental space. The Vudu box supports all types of resolution, ranging from 480i to 1080p. Vudu works over an ethernet connection and has two USB ports. The audio coming out of the Vudu is 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Vudu does not work wirelessly without additional hardware. A “˜broadband’ connection is needed. Vudu claims a 2.0mbps connection is needed for instant-viewing and a 1.5mbps connection is needed for delayed viewing.The cost for Vudu is $295.00. Rentals will cost anywhere from $0.99 to $5.99, and purchased movies will cost between $4.99 and $19.99. Purchases, like most of the other services, will not allow you to go ahead and burn the titles to disk. In September 2006, Apple gave a preview of their set top box, codenamed iTV, officially called AppleTV. At the time Steve Jobs showed the streaming video capabilities, syncing possibilities, and the streaming HD movie trailers from the iTunes Store. While not wildly popular, the Apple TV did have some traction. The initial release of the Apple TV required an iTunes account and a computer for the storage of the media. At MacWorld 2008, Apple showed off the Apple TV Take 2. While the hardware had not changed, the software and experience of the Apple TV has, and now boasts a completely redesigned interface and experience. The Apple TV is no longer tethered to a computer. You can now purchase content directly from the Apple TV and have it sync back to your Mac with ease. You can even transfer movies to your computer to be synced up with your 5th Generation iPod, iPod Classic, iPod Touch, or iPhone. With Movie rentals from iTunes you have the option to rent either Standard Definition or High Definition video. New Standard Definition titles cost $3.99 and library titles cost $2.99. High definition titles cost $4.99 for new and $3.99 for library titles. Currently, high definition titles can only be rented directly from the Apple TV.The common theme for all rental services is that you can have the rental for 30 days. Once you go ahead and start watching you only have 24 hours to watch the movie.

    Coming Soon: Part III: Physical Media

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