I don't expect this thing to be used but once every other week or once a month. I'm just not a huge TV watcher, and don't mind spending a small amount of money to watch something sans commercials that I want to see on a repeated basis. I found the Canada comment a bit amusing, as my girlfriend is from Canada, and I've been slowly teaching her the ins and outs of baseball. A bunch of the things that are "trapped" on the DVR are shows that had ex-players talking about the inner workings of the game, stuck waiting for another visit by her to watch them with me.
I know that someday it's coming, but for now I just find the notion of sticking a desktop-style system next to the AV equipment a non-starter. I know it's in the future, and I'm fascinated with where video - and media in general - are going for the consumer. Long after the bandwidth companies finish dealing with the "last mile" problem, I think a lot of consumers are going to continue to have to fight the "last fifty feet" problem. Love (or wifi) means never having to say you're running another Cat 6 cable to the living room? There are so many disparate ways to get some video source to the pixels on your flat screen, and watching some of them gel and some of them work their collective butts off to not get along is an interesting problem that is tough on the consumer. Being a baseball fan, I'm endlessly amused at how even the paid services don't seem to have themselves sorted out and strive for ubiquity. I can watch any live baseball game I want (save those in my actual market) from either my ATV3, on my iPod Touch, or on my iPhone. I can watch them on the flat screen even from the Touch then streamed to the flat screen via AirPlay (not that I would, it's just amusing that I can). However, I can only watch the video highlights on the Touch or the iPhone, although they can show them on the flat screen again via AirPlay. Why no video clips through the ATV3 "app" MLB.tv wrote? It was worse with the Olympics: I could watch any replay and even watch Live things that weren't on TV anywhere else on the NBC Live iPhone app, but they didn't make AirPlay an option, so I can see most anything I want, as long as I don't mind it being on a 3" display. This market is still definitely figuring itself out.
I know I'm not the usual consumer wanting to "borrow" forever everything they see, but I'd have been quite content giving MLB Network $1 apiece for the stuff trapped on my DVR. Would I spend $2? Probably. I wouldn't have to post this question if they did things like that. I'm not that concerned or interested in amassing TBs of things I'll rarely view again. However, I attended the fifth Word Wide Web Consortium conference, and several things happened there that continue to impact us in this part of the market today. One panel speaker said that the commerce of content on the web would finally take a great step forward when it was possible to make a profit on a tenth of a cent transaction. That may sound ludicrous, but when media content providers such as magazines or newspapers can figure out how to give you the stories you decide you want and do them in small transaction amounts, they will find themselves generating revenue; so, too, is it with figuring out how to "sell" things along the line I want to preserve for small-ish amounts of money without trying to figure out how to make it attractive to spend $14,99 for them. If anything, the phone apps market has demonstrated just that: I don't know exactly where the "why not?" price point is yet, but folks seem willing to take a chance on lots of apps at the $0.99 price point. I think we're finding that number. The other amusing exchange that happened at that conference was an exchange at the closing panel discussion where one presenter said, "someday, we'll all be able to take home movies and put them up where our friends can see them," to which an otherwise observant and intelligent panelist later replied with both respect and sincerity, "you couldn't make a home movie I would want to see." I think we all know he's today in a minority, and I have to wonder if the youtube folks were in attendance that day. Probably not - I'm sure they felt they thought of it themselves, which is fine. However, there are a million six pieces of software that claim they're good at snarfing those videos off youtube so that you can have them on your own machine, so yet another video-related cottage industry was born.
I can't wait until this stuff just shakes itself out. But I've all but got a nose bleed just trying to keep up with it! In the meantime, $200 for a little box that does the trick isn't too bad, as long as the quality of my everyday watching doesn't go through the floor because of the changed connections, and as long as I'm not having to live behind my entertainment center unplugging and plugging things just to make it all work. My Harmony remote knows how to turn all this stuff on and off, and I don't want to work incredibly hard trying to get to that state again.
Thank you all for your opinions on this matter. Even the things that won't ultimately work for me are interesting. I'm not a videophile - but maybe I want to play one on TV? Newsweek just got sold for a buck, and the buyer may make it online-only. The major networks have to be looking at that and shuddering. Video is going to be doing the same thing: I can't wait to see where all of this leads. Cable companies that are really just bandwidth companies and billing service providers where your entire viewing is on demand? It can't be too far off, can it? The next Seinfeld available at twenty cents an episode? Five cents? Unprotected, because they know the price is cheaper than figuring out the storage, and less work than working your way around the latest WMC bug? The CableCARD box makes for interesting food for thought. This is going to be a very interesting space to watch for the next five years.