Thursday, January 08, 2009

PS3, blu-ray, and the New Media Consumers

I started writing this entry as a comment on Carolyn Kraut's blog post found here, but it was getting long so I just turned it into a blog entry which links to her blog. 

I've been thinking a lot about all of this new media and how people will consume it as I just got a ps3, which is really cool, and have been experimenting with it. The PS3 is a gaming system, blu-ray player, and media center, which can connect to the internet via wi-fi as well as to your own PC to access pictures, movies, and music. However, I was wondering why the ps3 can be such a powerhouse computer system and have such a wimpy web-browser rendering the internet part of the whole peice quite frail. And it struck me when I was reading Carolyn's blog and this NY Times article that they probably made the browser crappy because they want people to keep buying blu-ray discs. If the internet experience is great, then ps3 owners will be able to get HD content online seamlessly which will make people less likely to buy blu-ray discs. On the other hand, I'm not sure blu-ray is in as much trouble as the NY Times article suggests only because in order to get HD content from the web streamed to a TV one must have: 

1. A very high speed connection (i'm bumping mine up from 2mbps to 15 mbps)
2. A computer or box of some sort to capture the media (ps3, pc, mac, vudu, roku, 360, etc)...
3. An awesome expensive flat screen TV to make it worth your while...
4. An understanding of how to hook everything up...
5. A more than basic understanding of Network administration...(seriously, i spend a lot of time troubleshooting the network).
6. We havn't even discussed hi-def audio yet which is a whole different beast.

As the Internet evolves, bandwidth increases, TV's become more affordable, and media centers that connect to the Internet become affordable and easy to use, the blu-ray dics may become less necessary. However, until that time comes, people want ease of use, quality, reliability, and affordability, which the blu-ray gets 3 out of 4 right there (still too $$$).  Many people still just want to pop a disc into a machine and be guaranteed a seamless viewing experience. They don't want the unpredictability of streaming video and the jitters the network causes while watching a movie (so irritating!).  

If blu-ray wants to dominate this field and become more than just a transition technology they need to first sell blu-ray players  for $50-$70 and blu-ray discs for $10.  This will completely saturate the market with blu-ray owners and will buy Sony some time while companies work on making the blu-ray player an affordable media center, similar to the ps3, but with a better Internet experience. I think I would like my media center to sit outside my 1080p flat screen because if one thing breaks in the unit, I don't want to have to get the whole TV fixed. Make sense? 


Carolyn Kraut said...

"I think I would like my media center to sit outside my 1080p flat screen because if one thing breaks in the unit, I don't want to have to get the whole TV fixed. Make sense? "

Very good point - This is one of the reason's I decided to purchase (during the format war) a surround sound system that was independent from a DVD/Blu-Ray player. Things break and/or become obsolete too quickly for a complete one-piece media center to be feasible.

However - if the parts were easily interchangeable and upgradeable (swap out Hard Drives, wireless cards, etc.) a one piece media center might not be so bad. Yes, there are drawbacks - especially for the non-tech savvy. I could deal with keeping the TV and Media Center separate as long as the media center has more capabilities. A better browser in the PS3 is a necessity - I'd still like more from it, specifically an access card for those of us who can't give up our satellite/cable programming just yet :)

Michael Edwards said...

I posted this on Carolyn's entry, but I'll post it here too:

I’d also add, I want my iPhone/iPod-touch/googlephone/blackberry to be able to control all of the media center devices. This goes from picking songs, videos, movies, playlists, but also acting as a trackpad and keyboard.

They could keep the pairing system they use on the (horrible, IMO) apple remotes, to ensure strangers can’t interfere with your machine.

Terence Armentano, M.Ed. said...

Hey Mike, great idea. I found this article at the ps3 fanboy site which indicates that you can use your Blackberry as a PS3 remote and keypad. Looks like they are taking steps in the right direction. What do you think?

Carolyn Kraut said...

I saw this video on CNN from the CES Expo. This guy is trying to get his iPhone app approved. In theory it should control every device in your house, so he says. I like the part where he slips in the need to purchase a small hardware device to tie everything together - on top of what he will charge for the app itself.