Is Blu-ray Better Than Streaming or Pay-Per-View For Your Hard Earned Home Video Budget?

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If Apple Computer has taught us one thing about new media, it should be that if given the chance - people will often take media convenience over media quality. On iTunes, Apple sells music downloads for about $1.00 per song or close to $10 for an entire album but the sound quality is below that of a nearly 30 year old Compact Disc. Respectfully, CD is anything but high definition audio, but the 200,000,000-plus i-People using iPads, iPhones and i-Everything at this point have little to no options to buy better sound even at a higher price. Hell, they can't even get CD quality for their download dollar, which is why most audiophiles buy their music used and rip it to a hard drive over downloading from the likes of iTunes. The music download effect has been catastrophic for the record business as well as the specialty audio business. 

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• Read Jerry Del Colliano's open letter to audiophile music labels.
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While stunning sounding 24 bit, 192 kHz audio exists via Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound and HD Tracks as well as on Blu-ray music discs from the likes of AIX and 2L records - major labels and mainstream download services have opted to pick the low hanging fruit (again) and sell poor quality in volume rather than offering a high end, copy-protected option. But after the follies of the music business, including the RIAA's many ill-advised consumer lawsuits, few are surprised at this course of action. What is surprising - and disturbing - is that the movie studios and movie rental houses are starting to go down the same path.

2010 was a major year for audio-video convergence. Most HDTVs and Blu-ray players are now packing HDMI 1.4 for 3D and copy protection as well as Internet connectivity for everything from Skype to Accuweather to Picasa to Pandora to Netflix to Blockbuster to Amazon Video on Demand to CinemaNow. A modern HDTV is not just paper-thin - it's a powerful convergence tool, especially when it comes to downloading and/or streaming movies. As seen with the Google TV, the fight for the right to sell you movies on your television is going to be a brutal one with the download companies currently staking claim to that real estate, in some cases over Red Box, Netflix (rental) or cable/satellite pay-per-view. With a modern TV and/or web-enabled Blu-ray player, it's now possible to stream movies "in HD" right to your HDTV with no waiting, at a modest cost and with no fuss or muss. It's easier than iTunes was for downloading music. Anyone who has tried this new access to media will admit that it's pretty impressive.

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