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Saturday, September 25, 2004

HDTV, DVD, Hard Drives and the future by Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban turns the conventional wisdom upside down and opens an interesting debate."Right now in the entertainment world, the conventional wisdom is that both sides on the HD DVD vs Blue Ray DVD will battle it out and a standard for HD on DVD will emerge.The longer it takes, the less chance any format of DVD has of having a place in the future of home entertainment.The price and size of hard drives have fallen like a rock, while capacities have soared, with no slowdown in site.Which leads to the question — What is the best way to distribute content? Mark Cuban expands his thoughts,"DVDs which will be limited in capacity to 9.4gbs on a single DVD for another year, and then after that 50gbs on a single disk for years to come after that, or rewritable media that can hold 2gb already in a device half the size of a pen, or in a hard drive that can hold 200GBs plus in a drive the size of your cell phone." DVD, knowing that the future standards will be locked for 7 to 10 years, or these storage devices that will grow in capacity, and shrink in size and price, not to mention the additional flexibility of being able to erase and rewrite the drives?Bigger cheaper hard drives gives HDNet the ability to use that additional storage to hold our content in uncompressed quality and increase the picture quality that you can see on your TV. A bunch. We can take advantage of new cameras to capture at better and better qualities, and of new compression schemes that approach future camera capabilities, only because we have ever expanding storage. That’s something DVDs will never have. So by delivering content on Hard Drives rather than DVDs, we will be able to continue to increase the picture quality for years to come. Mark also highlights his experience:One of the things I learned at broadcast.com is that when you give thousands of choices on demand, people go to the little things that they couldn’t find anywhere else. The sailing fan will choose the show about sailing over the blockbuster movie because they can’t get the sailing show anywhere else. Or maybe they choose both. The problem is that when people all choose different things at the same time, its a huge bandwidth hog. Thousands of choices, thousands of people using different movies, particularly when the expectation is for HD quality, and there is a huge problem. The cost of delivery per movie if the system is used a lot is incredible. Unicasting DVD or higher quality video is an incredibly inefficient business Mark concludes that bandwidth on own network is cheaper than the net, but when hard disk storage costs 25c per GB, and falls fast from there, unicast won’t be the best way to go. A few things that came out of the discussions and that appealed to me:
A. This is irrefutable logic and reasoning expressed well. Few related key issues/trends:
B. Why should we assume that the technology affecting the speed off downloading and uploading will not keep pace with other new technology.
c. What role wouLD WI-FI Play in future and how this would influence bandwidth and speed.
D. Customers accustmed to hugh bandwidth internet in places like Korea and Japan may feel,"although storage capacity-to-cost ratios are improving more quickly than broadband bandwith-to-cost ratios, there is no reason to believe these file sizes will be prohibitive-a typical HD movie that is 2 hours in length would be 18 gigabytes. Given the availability of broadband connections in the US that support either 1.5 megabits/s or 3.0 megabits/s download speeds, you are looking at:
~17.5 hours to download at 3.0 megabits/second (~300 kilobytes/second), ~35.0 hours to download at 1.5 megabits/second (~150 kilobypes/second).
E.Kiosks,like the ATM networks vending digital music downloads could be distinct possibility
F.Piracy concerns and legal regulations.
eWeek just published an interview with David Proctorjust published an interview with David Proctor, hardware lead for the Microsoft Portable Media Center who predicts that in two years the "Portable Media Players will come equipped with 125GB of data storage by 2007 for recording and storing Hi-Def video, and that PMP devices will come with wireless connectivity to “stream content on the fly from a local source, connected to a user's home server or content provider via the Internet." Proctor seems to be a little inconsistent himself when he explains that the Wi-Fi feature will most likely obliviate the need for a large local hard drive.

Overall, any development here hinges on advances to be made in multiple streams - very interesting to watch how this evolves - but I think Mark cuban may prove to be rigt at the end.

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