Sunday, November 13, 2005

iPod Video Mixed Messages

I have been playing with the iPod video player - movie trailers look great. Thats why I was interested to read this entry on John Robb's excellent website. He writes..

A couple of weeks ago, my family started watching the first season's LOST episodes from Netflix. Of course, watching them end-to-end was great and we became quickly hooked. Unfortunately, we are now half-way through the second season and we didn't have any of the second season's episodes on TiVo. How could we catch up? That's were iTunes comes in. They have LOST episodes from the second season available for download at $1.99 a pop. Very nice. However, here's the problems we ran into (mostly having to do with ignorant DRM decisions):

Extremely restrictive digital rights management (almost unusable because of it). The shows I downloaded were restricted to a single download to one computer (which is not the expected behavior). I can't burn the shows onto a CD or DVD. I can't view them on the other computers I have in the house. Of course, I bought these episodes for my family (wife and two older kids). The restrictions mean that I in order to share these shows I have to provide my Powerbook as a mini-theater to three other people (~4 hours each for ~12 hours of viewing). I suspect that the DRM gods thought that this is a personal price rather than a family price, and that in order to share I would buy it again. That's wrong. It is just something that pisses me off. I am not going to buy the episodes again for other family members and I can't think of anyone who would. Bad decision.

The quality sucks. Granted, for a small screen this is fine. It downloads quickly. However, I wouldn't have minded 3x to 4x increase in download times to get higher quality fare. In contrast to those wonderful HD movie trailers that Apple offers and the quality of the DVD presentation of the show on my 55 inch monster TV, this is pretty low end. Again, this is probably a DRM decision (since they didn't want to sell these shows as a replacement for the DVD). Bad decision.

The Apple iTunes software has a crappy video viewer. In fact, the entire interface associated with video display on the Mac is pretty messed up. I have a DVD player, QuickTime (which I upgraded to Pro), and iTunes. Hey, give me one darn video viewer with controls that I can access in "full screen" mode (hopefully the QuickTime interface). The iTunes viewer doesn't have any controls I can find/use in the "full screen" mode. That sucks. Again, the use of the iTunes video viewer is probably a DRM decision. Another bad decision

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