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Thursday, February 21, 2008

For Thursday: Set-Top Box Reviews, Upconverting DVDs, and Player-Developed Games

- NY Times columnist David Pogue evaluates four leading Internet-connected set-top boxes, and gives the $300 Vudu the highest overall grade. (Others included in his survey include Xbox 360, Apple TV, and TiVo.) Pogue also makes some good points about the limitations imposed on all of the boxes by studios:

    ...[N]o matter which movie-download service you choose, you’ll find yourself facing the same confusing, ridiculous time limits for viewing. You have to start watching the movie you’ve rented within 30 days, and once you start, you have to finish it within 24 hours.

    ...What would the studios lose by offering a 27-hour rental period? Or three days, or even a week? Nothing. In fact, they’d attract millions more customers. (At the very least, instead of just deleting itself, the movie should say: “Would you like another 24-hour period for an additional $1?”)

    Then there’s the fact that to protect their cash cows, most studios don’t release their movies on the Internet until a month after they’ve been available on DVD.

- NY Times reporter Saul Hansell talks to an electronics retailer who says that until the cost of Blu-ray players drops below $200 or $150, most consumers will still be happy buying standard-def DVD players that upconvert, producing a very nice looking picture from a garden-variety DVD.

- This feels important, somehow: Microsoft allowing players to develop their own videogames and share them with others via Xbox. A vidgame twist on YouTube?

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