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Packaged Media Still Looks Good Despite the Convergence Emergence

12 Jan, 2004 By: Stephanie Prange

As I trekked through the enormous Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this weekend, I was somewhat overwhelmed and mystified by the numerous entities trying to bring about the digital delivery of entertainment to the home.

The industry and its detractors have been talking video on demand since I got here a decade ago, and I honestly have yet to see anything that beats traditionally packaged delivery of movies, even at this year's CES.

Many of these new technologies seem to hinge on home networking, i.e., getting a digital program from one room to another via wire or wireless. I actually sat in on an educational seminar on digital media servers, and let me tell you this stuff is complicated. There's centralized or networked systems costing anywhere from $350 to more than $5,000. The Kaleidescape system starts at $27,000.

You'll need a wired house (wireless systems are a problem for various reasons), and, from the looks of things, you'll need an on-call techie to administer and problem shoot the thing. You'll also need backup drives with your movies, songs, etc., loaded. If not, you're out of luck if your drives go bad — as they often do.

All of this makes the shiny little DVD look pretty good. Even if I had all the money in the world, I'd opt for a DVD collection rather than the much-ballyhooed network. If you're really in a crunch for space, you can ditch the packaging and just store the DVDs. You can store lots of those slim little things in the space it takes to house your server and backup drives.

The rental business may find a strong competitor in video on demand, but, as far as I can tell, DVDs will be the way to go for the movie collector for a long time to come.

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