Stephanie Prange is the editor in chief of Home Media Magazine. The Yale University graduate joined what was then Video Store Magazine in 1993 and was instrumental in transitioning the publication into a tabloid newsweekly. She spearheaded the publication’s reviews section, as well as aggressive coverage of the home video sales market. She also helped launch the magazine’s Web site in 1996. In her position as editor-in-chief since 2006, she has spearheaded the launch of such projects as the daily blast, transmitted via email each day to readers, and Agent DVD, a consumer publication aimed at genre enthusiasts who attend Comic-Con International in San Diego. She has freelanced for The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times and parenting publications. She has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California.
Quality Getting Lost in Digital Future20 Jun, 2011 By: Stephanie Prange
Every day as I do my walk with my iPod in tow, I lament the quality of digital music.
Sure, it’s convenient to have a small device that holds thousands of songs, but I miss the resonance of the old records I grew up listening to, or even the quality of the digital CD.
Something seems to be missing; the sound is tinny, kind of lifeless.
The same is true with digitally delivered video, which is Wall Street’s darling. If I want to watch a blooper on YouTube, I’m not too concerned with the quality of the picture and sound. (Often, based on the content, I’m kinda glad the picture is grainy.) But a truly great film with superior cinematography or a sci-fi or actioner with lots of special effects deserves the best quality video and audio. The same is true for such TV shows as “Lost” with its beautiful locations.
Recently, I received a letter from a reader who lamented the quality of both audio and video content in the digital delivery realm:
“I will NEVER depend on streaming for watching a movie. Why? I want the best picture and sound experience there is. I believe if more people had a Blu-ray player, they would not even consider streaming as their only option in watching movies and TV shows. Streaming will never be able to equal the performance of Blu-ray in either picture quality or sound.”
He rightly makes the point that while many digital services will tout HD quality, the fact is the picture — and especially the sound — often don’t really measure up to Blu-ray Disc.
I understand many consumers like the convenience of digital files. Heck, I love my iPod and wouldn’t want to do without it on my walk. But as you get over the initial convenience factor, that quality loss starts to become more apparent. I recently got fed up with bad audio quality and decided to take out my old CDs and play them in the car instead of listening to my iPod. What a difference! How I missed the fuller sound of a quality product.
Certainly, there is room for both convenient services and high-quality viewing in the entertainment business. I applaud Netflix’s decision to again focus on its physical media business. Consumers would lose out if the whole video world turned to streaming at this point.
While convenience is great, so is quality, and the best video quality around right now is Blu-ray Disc.