I hate watching video on my computer, and don’t have cable TV. Instead, I have an Apple TV and an Xbox 360 with Netflix’s on-demand streaming app.
I wanted to watch this. iTunes doesn’t have it for rental and it’s not available for Netflix streaming, so I put it in my Netflix DVD queue.
But since I hate DVD menus and the Xbox 360 isn’t a great DVD player (too much fan and disc noise, no deinterlacing even over HDMI outputs, and awful remote-control angle), I usually rip movies with Handbrake, deinterlacing if necessary, and play them with the Apple TV.
Except this time, the plastic disc holding the 8.5 GB of MPEG-2 was scratched too much and couldn’t be reliably read by either my DVD-ROM drive or the Xbox 360 for playback. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it can’t really be avoided, although Netflix is very good at minimizing it. I went to their site and told them it was scratched, and now I need to wait two days for a different plastic disc with the same MPEG-2 data that hopefully isn’t scratched so my computer can read it and bypass the trivial encryption and remove the prohibited user operations and strip the menus and convert it to the format that works best on my TV because it’s not the same format as older TVs and I don’t want to buy another box with another remote and another video signal to collect even more dust in my “entertainment center” that needs to exist to hold all of these boxes that all do the same things but with different publisher deals and content availability and in slightly different and incompatible ways.
This all seems so archaic.
One reason HD-DVD died and Blu-Ray has had a slow pickup is that the geeks like me, who buy the cutting-edge technology before it’s mainstream, are completely disinterested in dealing with discs. Every time I put a disc into a drive, I feel like I’m waiting for a VHS tape to rewind before I eject it and drive it back to Blockbuster: that feeling that this seems completely unnecessary with modern technology and it’s probably not long for this world.
Our grandchildren (and, for the younger generation, even our children) will probably never hear a dial tone or busy signal, use a tape rewinder because we told them the expensive VCR would wear out its motors if it rewound too many tapes itself, bring the empty case up to the Blockbuster clerk to get the real movie, or be disappointed to open their new CD’s case and find that the spokes have cracked and are rattling around inside. Do you think they’ll be shuffling movies around on plastic discs transported by mail or automobile and exchanging them for different ones because they’re too scratched to play?