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Tangible Media is So 20th Century

September 2, 2007

The continuing need for optical discs accounts for a significant amount of annoyance in using and setting up a networked home.

Music, which can be legally ripped, stored on the network, replayed in any location, transferred to mobile devices and even played from many other Internet connected devices.

Not so with both standard and high definition DVDs or games for consoles. DVDs can be ripped and stored on the network, but the fact that this appears to violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act means that support for playback of ripped DVDs requires extraordinary measures. Replaying ripped DVDs via Media Center Center Extenders requires converting movies to MPEG2 files with the loss of DVD special features in the process (see this post). Replaying ripped DVDs on networked PCs is also hit or miss as evidenced by J River Media Center’s less than perfect support for this. Transferring to mobile devices and internet playback require even more technical contortions. If ripping DVDs was legal, does anyone doubt that the support would be better.

The same is even more true of games for game consoles, which require bringing the games disc with you if your want to play on a different box. Having access to your saved games requires bringing along a memory card as well.

None of this is intolerable, of course. But it would certainly be nice if games and video were freed from the bonds on physical media the way music has been.

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