Thu, 17 Jan 2008

iTunes Movie Rentals, part 2

When I woke up, the rental I started last night had stalled at the 75% point. Clicking the little revolvo-reloado iconlet in the iTunes downloads list revived it, and it finished up in about 15 minutes. Considering that I lost my IP connection a dozen times earlier Tuesday evening (the hotel wifi went through a really crappy phase), I’m really not going to harp on the download performance too much.

The Biz

I disagree a small bit with Sven on the rentals being overpriced —

edit: I misread Sven a bit there (see comments)
A new DVD release from Blockbuster or Hollywood Video is going to be priced @ about $3 for a rental, and I have to travel to the store both to pick it up and to return it. I’m perfectly willing to kick in an extra buck to avoid that trip, especially during a Michigan winter. I imagine that price constitutes a decent margin both for Apple and the studios, but I don’t really have a problem with that. One could argue that library titles could be a little cheaper, but whatever.

24 Hour Un-Party, People

Some of the suckiest things about the rentals seem to be things the studios would have insisted on to keep cable, satellite, and physical rental outlets happy, namely:

  1. The 24-hours-once-you’ve-started-viewing matches the broken model used by cable and satellite pay-per-view outlets.
  2. No rentals until after the DVD’s been out 30 days sounds like a bone being thrown to Blockbuster or maybe Walmart/Target/etc.

It seems as though the content cartels are negotiating from a stronger postition than they were back when the iTunes store debuted — it seems like with every new media product added to the store, they get a few more concessions: TV shows were more restricted than songs (no burning of physical copies), movies for sale were more restricted than TV shows (much less desirable pricing), movie rentals expire aggressively on a 30-day/24 hour schedule.

As others have mentioned, a Netflix-like model where you’re able to keep a certain number of films rented for a fixed monthly fee would have been great, but it’s not to be, at least not for this go-around.

The Viewing Experience

On my MacBook, the video and sound quality were completely acceptable. The horizontal resolution is 640 pixels, slightly less than a physical DVD, so zoomed up to 1280 pixels the picture quality was slightly “soft” but nothing too dramatic. I didn’t see any artifacts like macroblocking. Framerate was rock steady (I was running full-screen and not doing anything else, however.) Sound quality was fine through noise cancelling headphones. One thing worth noting is that my fans spun up from time to time — h.264 is a fairly demanding playback codec. I’m not sure how often the fans came up (yay for noise cancellation), but that might be an issue running from battery or in quiet surroundings.

movie stats

Amusingly enough, the other bit visible in iTunes’ info window:

J. Edgar's watching you.

As for the movie itself, er, I’ve seen better…

:: 07:26
:: /entertainment/movies | [+]
::Comments (0)

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Research is the best place to be: you work your buns off, and if it works
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so you’re still a valiant nerd.