iTunes Video

Since I’ve had a few days off, instead of being productive, I decided to catch up on Scifi’s Battlestar Galactica. By catch up, I mean watch the miniseries and first season. I’m hoping to catch the the first half of the second season next thursday before they launch the second half.

So, in order to catch up, I either had to buy the DVD or try iTunes video. Being lazy, I went for iTunes. So, my first thought: Sure is cheaper on iTunes. Amazon sells Season 1.0 for $39 with free super saver shipping and iTunes sells it for $26 + tax and I get it now. So far, I’m liking this iTunes thing. The con is that a season sucks up 2 gb, which is 5% of my laptop’s hard disk. So a bit of a minus there. Plus, when you realize that I just purchased a 6 MP digital camera, I’m suddenly seeing visions of a full hard drive.

But all that is really secondary. The question is how does it look? Not bad but not fantastic. There are some clear pixelations at points, especially during the credits. To be fair, I’ve seen some of the same issues with DVDs so it may be more of a TV resolution on a computer screen issue, rather than a weakness in iTunes video format. The sound, coming out of computer speakers, was fine. I’d love to get the DVD, just to compare, but even if the video isn’t quite as good, the price and convenience certainly make it viable.

The real question is still unanswered though: How does iTunes compare to Tivo? That is harder to say. I can’t compare picture quality, but I would assume they are similar. If I had Tivo, I certainly wouldn’t need to buy episodes of Battlestar Galactica…Tivo would take care of them for me. Of course, if I miss the episode, Tivo can’t help, but right now iTunes selection is so limited, that much of the time it can’t help me either. On one hand, I can buy 75 TV shows for the yearly subscription price of Tivo. But on the other hand, with Tivo, I can burn DVDs of shows I record. Frankly, I don’t think there are 75 shows a year that I want so badly I’d pay for them, but I can see a lot that I might record and burn if I had Tivo.

Frankly, for those with a DVR, I can’t imagine them using iTunes video all that often, except maybe to get very old programs that aren’t broadcast any longer. For those without, it is a nifty service, but I’d still be tempted to break out the VCR if I know I am going to miss an episode of a current show. Digital cable with “On Demand” style services throw another monkey wrench into the whole thing. I’d like to think that eventually people will use a combination of all these services, however I suspect that with DVRs and On Demand available, iTunes video is going to be relegated to service for finding older video with low demand or as an independant type distribution house. While it is cool that iTunes is slowly moving to becoming a complete multimedia distribution system, I am pessimistic as to its future success. Music worked as means of driving iPod sales. I just don’t think that video is going to translate.

All that being said, second season Battlestar Galactica repeats on Thursday Jan 5 starting at 8 am until 5pm. The second half of season two starts at 10pm on Friday the 6th. I just hope that I am home in time for the 1 am repeat…but you can bet the VCR will programmed to record it.

  • sujal

    It’s funny you should say that about iTunes (being relegated to older video and the like) because they’re clearly marketing it as sort of the middle ground.

    Yesterday, I watched The Office on Tivo and saw a little promo overlay that suggested going to iTunes to catch up on older episodes. The question, I suspect, will come down to who offers NBC (or ABC, or whoever) a better deal to be the exclusive way to get older shows… on demand type services? or iTunes/Google Video/whoever…