The Zune HD Video Versus Blu-ray Debate Continues
I can't recall a new media format taking as much heat from consumers and the press as I have seen with Blu-ray... tagging it as an unneeded upgrade to DVD and too expensive.
While there may be some truth to one of those arguments, no one should doubt the superior picture and sound quality the format produces.
Sure you can get a DVD player that upscales, but doing that just isn't up to HD quality let alone 1080p. The bottom line in regards to Blu-ray is that it is the best format for Hi-Definition movies currently available.
However, the past few years have given rise to music, games, and software being mostly consumed through digital downloads. DVD's have been slow to fade away and Blu-ray keeps picking up steam. On the other hand, movies at this current moment are primarily still consumed through a physical media.
Netflix has really been the only leader in terms of pushing digital distribution of movies with their pioneering of streaming movies to PC and the Xbox 360.
So naturally it was of great interest to everyone when Microsoft announced Zune Video Service for the Xbox Live with the ability to display streamed movies at 1080p resolution and 5.1 surround sound.
Instantly the Internet was awash in predictions of Blu-ray's coming demise. There is no denying that Zune will be a huge step forward for the digital distribution of movies, but will it really kill the DVD and Blu-ray formats? The answer is a simple one. No.
Sure Zune will be able to match the sound and picture quality of Blu-ray, made even more amazing by the fact that it will do this streaming. However, in order to get 1080p and 5.1 surround sound you will have to have a fast enough connection otherwise you will lose picture and sound quality.
The only option for those picture junkies without an 8-10Mbps connection would be to download the movie, which Zune will do, however it will not be instantly available to watch like it would be with Zune's streaming technology.
A lot of people by now have a Hi-Speed connection, but not everyone does, often times people seem to forget that there are over 62 million people that live in rural areas that do not get 8-10Mbps internet connections.
The age of Hi-Speed Internet has been going on for a while now, but it is still growing, which means that as more and more people get access to faster speeds, more and more bandwidth will be taken up.
Internet Providers such as Comcast are already in the process of trying to put a cap on internet usage much like cell phone service providers capping minutes.
Comcast has already started to test different internet packages in select areas which offer more or less Gig's depending on the package, which means that a ten gig 1080p movie stream might not seem so enticing anymore once you've watched ten or twelve movies on a billing cycle.
I'm not trying to harp on Zune here. I'm just simply stating that while Zune is a great product, and like Blu-ray, it has a few downsides.
The practice of internet capping by providers is going to happen. Where there is money there is greed. Combine that with the fact that not everyone has a high enough speed connection to really take advantage of Zune.
In the end I think Zune will be a successful venture for Microsoft. I just don't think that it will be the end or even the beginning of the end for the physical media format.
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I think that the whole blu ray vs zune thing stems from the PS3 vs 360 fight, in the end Blu ray will become the new standard and zune will be relegated to obvlivion once Apple releases a new Ipod with fast streaming.
Zune as a platform has already failed versus the Ipod Touch and Iphone and no ammount of technological advances will reposition it let alone make it a standard. The tech heads will probably go crazy over it for a while but the general consumers will rather wait for Apple to do the same, or expect the DSi or PSP to do so accordingly.
True, digital downloads are the future but it's still too far away to kill physical media, and there is still wariness that all the media you can buy today might be useless tomorrow with the changes in streaming, the restrictions of playback systems and the server side storage that might become so huge that will start to delete some stuff and make our "buy" useless.
Digital downloads might replace blockbuster since I see it more as a rental system than as a way to buy movies while blu ray will replace DVDs.
I second that to an extent. Hardware-wise the zune has some kickass features that apple just left out. I can only vouch for the limited months I owned a zune 80 but compared to my ipod classic, wifi sync and the ability to copy music BACK to the pc was huge. Anyways to stick to the topic, physical medias are necessitated by the ever morphing digital formats between companies.
Honestly its a miracle that in the fight between AAC, OGG, FLAC, and MP3, that there still lies the unadulterated purity of a physical CD. With Microsoft having the capabilities it does, it starts out with supporting partners out of the gate. Having bought the Sidekick design company DANGER not too long ago, and owning rights to chip technologies, should it design a phone concept or even a Kindle situation with dedicated streaming over cellular data, it has the resources.
Blu-ray/DVD's/CD's are all becoming the medium of the "impatient" so to speak. With bandwidth expanding into residential homes, and fiber pipelines popping up here and there, its no-surprise the incredible push for streaming media.
Simply stating '1080p' doesn't imply that the quality will be equivalent to Blu-Ray... What is the planned bit rate? Also, if you have a 8-10 Mb/s connection, who has one that is reliable enough to get it consistently for 2 hrs? Any time I have a BW issue, customer service is happy to remind me that I don't have a 'guaranteed' service since I am residential. This may work for some, but nowhere near the majority.
Apple left out major selling points on purpose. This is what every electronics manufacturing company does.
Why give the consumer tech that is 10 steps ahead of there last selling point. Let's give them only 5 steps and in due time we will come with a newer version of it.
By this type of marketing strategy sales will be at least 50% more than what is projected.
Watch out for the new iPOD A.K.A the Zune HD killer... Microsoft has and always will be out done.