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Thursday, July 31, 2008

HD on Disc vs Streaming

Much disagreement remains about what will succeed: HD movies on optical disc, or streaming movies over broadband on-demand. LG is hedging its bets with its latest Blu-ray player that can also access 12,000 movies and TV shows through Netflix.

The two companies first announced their plans at CES in January, when details of a set-top box to be developed by LG was released. It is not clear whether the Blu-ray player is the device that was described, or if the two companies still plan a standalone Netflix box like the one from Roku.

LG's player, the BD300, requires a wired connection to the network, and will allow Netflix movies to start in as little as 30 seconds from the point the title is first selected. Users would be able to fast-forward and rewind through the streams.

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Excluding cinephiles and collectors--and films that are exclusively on disc, I'm not sure what incentive there would be to have discs if folks can instantly download any movie. Especially when people realize how many movies they own that they don't watch. For the average movie goer, it may become more and more evident that having a instant catalog of thousands is more cost effective and saves more space than having a collection of a few hundred.

The one set of folks who I anticipate will still buy the discs are families with kids. Kids like physically owning the movie and until technology progresses far enough, being able to stream movies in the back of a mini-van or to any portable player is probably a few years off.

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