Real Cool

The Internet has finally reached a first that I’ve been waiting for now for a long time – streaming video…

…but not just 2×2 inch squares of the local news, mind you. No, we’re finally to the point where you can download full-length, feature movies over the ‘net – legally – and actually be enjoying the movie in less than an hour! No more un-raring archives and begging for posters to resend missing pieces; no more finding an FTP server with everything you could ever want and later learning that it’s being hosted by some fourteen year-old with dial-up; no more videos that cut out halfway through, or have obnoxious watermarks, or Arabic subtitles…well, you get the idea.

Just last week Starz! and Real Networks rolled out Starz! Ticket which allows broadband users to download from a weekly-changing archive of 100+ movies for unlimited viewing at only $12.95 a month (with a 14-day trial, no less). Each movie comes with a specific license that allows it to remain on your computer for a set period of time, after which it gets automatically deleted, so the pirates are stopped dead in their tracks, at least for a while. I watched The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl tonight and was pretty impressed – the video itself weighed in at around 700 MB and was complete in about 40 minutes, which translates to something like 300 KB/s…a speed that I’ve never seen pulling downloads from anywhere else! The video was arguably DVD quality – I’ll find out more when I run the next one through my home theater system, but seriously, this really is the lazy man’s dream…

Sure, I know it’s pretty much the same idea as the movies on demand that I get with digital cable, but just the idea of doing this online is something that I’ve been waiting for for a long time! I’m sure it’s too early to know how popular this is going to be, but hopefully it’ll be enough so that Blockbuster or one of the other large chains will come online and begin offering rentals for a similar plan as an alternative to NetFlix – as opposed to $22 a month to get DVDs by mail, I think I’d be willing to pay ten or fifteen to be able to stream from a library online that would be ready for our enjoyment by the time I get back with the pizza. Until then, though – Starz! is swapping out about 20 movies a week…it’s almost like getting digital cable for the first time all over again!

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