The talk of the future of home entertainment is largely about how we will never have to deal with having physical copies of movies anymore, as everything will just be digital downloads. This may very well be true, in fact, I’m sure it will happen at some point. That won’t stop me from grabbing my soapbox and megaphone to proclaim how much better I think DVDs are.
As a way to perhaps show how biased I may potentially be, I will say I am a full-on collector of DVDs. And not in a “yeah, I have 80 DVDs, my collection is pretty sweet…” kind of way. At the moment I’m typing this, I have 1,167 DVDs. I’m not joking.
But for the record, I’m not opposed to digital downloads. I think they are good in a certain way, but I also don’t think they are as amazing as they are said to be. I’ve even dabbled slightly in the downloading world, but in the end, I’m still a stubborn fan of the DVD. Let me state my case, and feel free to offer a rebuttal to any of my claims.
I’m not made of money. I’m in fact made of blood and organs. But I am by no means rich in any way, yet I’ve obtained somehow an enormous collection of DVDs. How? The first reason is that I haven’t had many real responsibilities to take care of over the years (family expenses/car payments/student loans), which I’ve been lucky enough to avoid (not that having a family is a bad thing…). But even so, buying everything full price still wouldn’t be possible with what I’m worth. That is perhaps the biggest factor in how I can obtain such an arrogant collection. Mainly, there is a wonderful, wonderful thing called Amazon Marketplace.
If you buy things on Amazon, you may notice under the full price there are more prices, such as “25 used from $4.76″. That is Amazon Marketplace. It’s pretty much eBay, except its all “Buy It Now” prices and they are almost always extremely cheap. For instance, why would you want to pay full price for The Dark Knight, when you can get it RIGHT NOW on Amazon Marketplace for $2.29…?
A lot of people try and claim that used DVDs are garbage, and they are all damaged blah, blah, blah. They, sir, are in fact rarely damaged. And if they are, the Amazon Marketplace seller always indicates they are scratched. They don’t want want you to be tricked, because then they have to deal with an annoying refund situation. Most of them are bulk sellers or ex-rental copies anyway, so they aren’t some creepy guy in his basement usually. And they ship faster than you think. In the (literally) hundreds of used DVDs I’ve purchased, I’ve only had ONE (yes, literally just ONE) DVD that was not as advertised and was scratched to hell. It was a 50¢ copy of American Splendor. And since I only paid 50¢ for it, I didn’t really care.
Which brings me to my point about downloads. The concept of “used downloads” does not exist. It never will. In a world of nothing but downloads, you will be subjected to only paying what retailers want you to pay. There won’t be any used downloads stores in strip malls where you can buy other peoples unwanted downloads for less. I went into a used DVD store recently and bought a perfectly fine used copy of In the Line of Fire for $3. It wasn’t covered in anthrax or grape jelly, it wasn’t dragged across concrete. It was just as good as a new one.
A retailer may lower the price of downloads after time for older movies and such, but they’ve been doing that with DVDs for years, so you couldn’t claim that to be a concept originated in the digital download realm. Amazon has almost daily deals for new, factory sealed DVDs for under $5 (though they are usually terrible movies, and I don’t see this being any different for the reduced download movie prices). Regardless, I don’t want BestBuy.com’s reduced Godfather download for $6.99, I want Joey Joe Bob’s perfectly fine used DVD copy for $1. People are too caught up in the concept of only wanting new things. Though, I do admittedly purchase new release Blu-ray DVDs at full price if I want to watch them the day they come out. Impatience is a key element in consumerism.
Hypothetically, in the lowest possible scenario, lets say that every DVD I own is 750 MB as a digital download. At 1167 DVDs X 750 MB, I would need to obtain 875 GB of free space to store all my DVDs. That seems like a lot. And that is a vast understatement on space. That’s not accounting for increased high-definition Blu-ray sizes, full TV seasons, box sets, or countless special feature bonus discs. It’s probably actually more like 2 terabytes, who knows for sure?
Still, I know I’m on the high end of that spectrum, but I always like to think of things in terms of my parents. Having to buy computers for storage space, and the prospect of having to potentially upgrade it for space at some point, it’s a scary prospect to old people. They like having a disc tray that they can just put things in. They never have to upgrade that, regardless of how many movies they buy. I know in the industry we are in, we tend to think about these kind of computer/space issues as not that big a deal, but to my Mom, this all of the sudden becomes a big hassle. And there are more people like my parents out there, than there are tech savvy people. Think about having to explain this new concept to YOUR parents. Or even worse, try explaining it to some hillbilly! They watch movies too!
I know what your saying, “But Scott, with all your DVDs, you must have a huge space problem yourself, having to physically put them somewhere, you dolt!” Yes and no. They do take up a lot of space, but they don’t really get in the way.
I even have a list online that I have so I can keep track of my collection. I also have it so my friends don’t have to ask me if I have “this movie” or “that movie” for them to borrow. I just send them the weekly updated list. They often refer to my place as Scottbuster Entertainment.
But I’m sure normal people don’t really have that big of a problem dealing with their DVD collection taking up a bunch of space. I mean, c’mon, everyone has a shelf somewhere.
It’s much easier to gank a hard drive and an Apple TV than a DVD collection. Some jerk can walk away with your whole movie collection without you realizing it, at your OWN wine mixer. You shouldn’t have invited that guy with the shifty eyes wearing the trenchcoat…
Nobody is gonna get away with stealing my DVD collection, at least not all of it, or even a 1/4 of it. That would take multiple trips in broad daylight. Plus if they robbed my house, they’d probably just grab my TV and my computer! The bastards! Besides, what are they going to do with DVDs? Whats next, are they going to steal my mid-90s AM/FM clock radio? Burglars only like shiny futuristic electronic looking things, like iPods and cameras. I think they are more interested in filling their arms with my Playstation 3 than they are with my Planet of the Apes box set.
Download Time –
Speaking of losing everything, two months ago my Playstation 3 completely broke. For no reason at all, after the warranty expired… It angered me. The relevance? Well, for one, it proves that electronics break all the time right after warranties expire. But also, I had about 60 GB of downloaded games and Rock Band songs that existed nowhere except on my broken PS3. As I assume how it is with all digital downloads, I can re-download anything I want for free in a case where my PS3 gets destroyed. I have an average internet connection (not sure of specifics, I think it’s Comcast, but it’s shared with the other people I live with), and it took me 5 straight days of almost non-stop downloading to get everything back on my new PS3. It was annoying beyond belief to get everything back, and I actually had the time to waste to download as hastily as I did, most people probably don’t.
Computers break all the time, and average people almost never back anything up. This is going to turn people off to the concept of downloading to a hard drive, because the first time Joe Schmoe has to re-download something, he may lose complete patience with the whole concept. Whereas if a DVD player breaks, he can go to the store down the street, pick up a new one, and watch whatever DVD he wants immediately upon getting home.
Another example: about 8 months ago I actually downloaded a movie off of the Playstation Network, which works exactly the same way as any digital download site will/does work. I downloaded a $4.50 rental of The Substitute in HD format.
It was over 6 GBs and took about 5-6 hours to download. I didnt even feel like watching it anymore by the time it finished downloading. I ended up watching it two days later. Average consumers dont have super fast internet speeds. Which leads me into my next topic…
Perhaps though, more than anything else, I may have to side with downloading for rentals. Even streaming would be fine (if you can get it on your TV somehow). Most of my argument is for long term owners. I’m more of a buyer than a renter, but even so, let’s say a family decides they want to have a movie night together on a Tuesday evening. They want to try to download a rental to watch. Then they make popcorn and snuggle up next to the fireplace, while little Johnny and little Sally are already singing the stupid Hannah Montana theme song or whatever annoying crap kids watch nowadays. And Dad then hits the “purchase download” button only to see they won’t be able to watch Miley Cyrus for another 4 and 1/2 hours… But it’s a school night! Now we have to start planning our impromptu DVD watching plans HOURS in advance…? Suddenly a 10 minute trip to Blockbuster doesn’t seem like such an outrageous idea now, does it?
In a time when a lot of talk is about the future of 3D movies, how do you obtain the 3D glasses necessary to watch a 3D download? Is everyone expected to just own several pairs of 3D glasses? Different movies use different types of 3D, so we need to obtain all these different kinds of 3D glasses? Last time I checked we don’t live in the same era as The Jetsons, so we cant download physical objects to our Cogswell-Brand Materializer. Do they come in the mail? That would seem to defeat the convenience of downloading wouldn’t it? Just wondering…
One thing I do very often is loan DVDs to my friends. Yes, they like to abuse their friendship with me in exchange for goods. But how am I supposed to do that with digital downloads? Can we not share movies anymore? What if I want to hang out at my friends place, and we want to watch my copy of Re-Animator over a few beers? Do I need to bring my entire hard drive, and hook it up to his TV? What about the other people in my house, do they get the shaft on all movie watching because I need to take the entire hard drive to watch one movie at my friend’s place? Can I just put the movie on a thumb drive and dump it on my friend’s computer? Is there going to be copy protection preventing me from doing that, like in the old days of iTunes? No? Then what’s to stop me from transferring my friend’s downloaded copy of Slumdog Millionaire on a thumb drive for free, to keep forever on my computer? What are the chances the government will hunt me down for this evil crime? Oh, they probably won’t look into it? Cool beans!
Wait, isn’t this what’s killing the music industry?
The Suite Take –
In a perfect world, if I could instantly have my enormous DVD collection on a single hard drive connected to my TV with an easy, organized database, I would do it. Sure, I would do it. In a perfect world I’d also be dating Scarlett Johansson while I quarterbacked for the Miami Dolphins. But it wouldn’t be such a perfect world when that hard drive crashed. Having to re-download everything (even for no cost) would make me want to smash my head through my TV.
I’m sure you can call me a hypocrite for all of this, as I’m preaching for the average person, yet defending my abnormal collection. And I’m pretty sure most of my arguments can be voided by saying “Well, Scott, in a few years everyone will be able to download at 1 GB a second, and terabyte drives will cost $10…! There goes your argument!” Yeah, that would destroy my argument, jerk. But you can’t predict the future, and neither can I. Hey, the world is supposed to end in 2012 anyway, right?
Perhaps DVD collectors like myself will become like the new vinyl enthusiasts, constantly and annoyingly inserting ourselves into other people’s conversations at parties, insisting that DVDs are the REAL way to watch movies (besides a movie theater of course). Having a large DVD collection is not only an extremely personal thing in my life, as I watch these films/TV shows over and over again because it makes me happy, but it’s also almost an aesthetically pleasing part of my decor, in an insane and menacing kind of way. Plus, with downloaded videos, how are you going to get hold of nerdy-yet-awesome limited edition packaging???