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Taming the Wild DVD Collection

12 Sep, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I've always been a big defender of packaged home entertainment and an ardent dismisser of anyone who says home video's days are doomed because one day we're all going to download everything.

But after reading the new Forrester Research report “From Discs to Downloads,” I'm not so sure.

I'm not going to dismiss analyst and author Josh Bernoff as a Chicken Little bonehead, even though he predicts that ultimately not even DVD, with all its bonus features, will survive the download revolution.

I'm scratching my head, looking at my own family room — jam packed with books, LPs, CDs and DVDs — and wondering if he might be right.

I've ranted and raved before in this space that I'm running out of room — fast. I love movies, and while I'm trying hard to keep only what I like, my DVD collection is spilling out of my cabinets and shelves and even suitcases in the garage.

I've always loved software — something to have and to hold — but I must also face reality: I can't own everything, and another format change or two will almost certainly put me over the edge.

If there was such a beast as a central master computer on which I could store the thousands of movies that I absolutely, positively can't live without and readily access them for viewing on my TV as fast as I can shove a DVD in the slot, then, yes, I might be prompted to liquidate my collection and keep only those movies I consider true works of art, or at least symbols of pop culture: The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, Gunfight at OK Corral, To Kill a Mockingbird, Blue Velvet (!), and, oh, no more than 200 or 300 more. These, I would treasure and store in expensive bookcases, behind glass, right next to my library of 200 or 300 rare books and first editions by Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck and Dos Passos.

I would be a lot more selective than I am now in what I bring in, and I would only add new movies to my collection very carefully, instead of the mass influx of new releases that occurs with maddening regularity these days.

Now, I'm sure this isn't going to happen overnight. For this to be possible, I would have to be certain I could still own the actual movies. I don't want them floating around cyberspace; I don't want them stored on some far off server that could crash and burn and I'd never know it. I'd want them in my house, somewhere, close at hand.

And I want to be able to add to my collection just as easily as I do now. I don't want to have to search Web sites or wait even five minutes for a download; I want it in a matter of seconds, and I want the art and liner notes and everything else as well.

I also want to be able to watch what I want, when I want — ideally, by accessing my collection on my computer and then sending it over to the TV, instantly, for viewing. I want to pause, rewind and fast forward.

In other words, I want everything DVD currently offers me, without being crowded out of my own house.

I want this, and eventually technology will advance to the point where I can get it.

And when that happens, Thomas K. Arnold, pack rat collector, movie lover and DVD's biggest cheerleader next to Warren Lieberfarb, will unceremoniously turn and run to The Other Side.

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