MiniDisc, a Recap.
Sony’s ability to make technologically perfect own goals is remarkable. Sometimes a fickle public boots one of the Japanese giant’s invention marvels into touch. Sony introduced the MiniDisc in 1992 with JVC, Panasonic and others granted licences, a legacy of Betamax’s failure. MiniDisc’s ‘killer application’ saw a CD’s worth of music fit on a disc smaller than a coaster. Except MiniDisc was not portable music’s future. Record company support, including pre-recorded MiniDisc albums, was minimal, strangling MiniDisc at birth. As MiniDisc gurgled its death rattle, MP3, P2P and digital downloads arrived. Sony’s latest Magnum Opus was consigned to tech history.
Only enthusiasts and audio professionals now use MiniDisc, but it does have another purpose: - a warning to Blu-ray. Sony fixed the external support issue with Blu-ray backed by Hollywood big guns Twentieth Century Fox among others. With the emergence of Internet Protocol TV, whopping Terabyte hard drives and movie digital downloads, Blu-Ray’s time may already be borrowed though. One CEO of a hard disk firm has already stated the war is not between HD-DVD and Blu-ray. That was just a battle to see who would be the flag bearer for physical distribution. The war is between that method of audiovisual distribution and electronic downloading. Already Blu-ray is shooting itself in the foot with launch players, apart from PS3, not compatible with new developments such as downloading Internet content. These features will come with machines known as profile 2.0 to be released later this year. This however adds to the confusion, which will put mass consumers off adopting the format. In the meantime with Terabyte drives now available and Microsoft’s plan to launch HDTV and HD movie downloads, the infrastructure is already being built to provide a knockout blow for electronic distribution against physical media. The killer punch will come when the Internet has the power to cope with simultaneous movie downloads, ISP’s get a cut of the profits and therefore remove bandwidth caps and Apple or another company creates eMovies. That day has not come yet but as more and more people get swept up in digital downloading, surely physical is so last century?
As for those who argue against digital downloading: - have an iPod? Throw it out. Buy your CD players back.
Blu-ray is MiniDisc part two. MP3 is a lossy audio format, near CD quality but not the pinnacle. Even so that is a red herring argument as most people do not notice or indeed care about a pinnacle of performance in audio and the same is with visual. Yes, you might be able to see a blade of grass in Run Fatboy Run clearer than you could before, or on 1080p compared to 720p, but the fact is if you are noticing that you are not really watching the film. You are fiddling with your pants at your tech set up and how mass market is that? None. MiniDisc was the same, better quality than MP3 but nobody bit. iTunes = mass market. Digital downloads. The very thing too complicated for the mass market according to some commentators. Right. So Apple has invested a small sum in iTunes and the iPhone for what? Japes? MP3 players fit in your pocket. No moving parts. Connect to your computer. Oh wait what about viruses? Another potential argument against movie downloading, well anybody running scared of viruses with audio downloads. Nope. What I will agree with is the net infrastructure and an iTunes type interface is not there yet. But the hard disks are.
1TB. A year ago unfathomable. So who knows, next year 2TB plus? Take 100 movies round somebody’s house (as if), they will be the same size if not more than a HDD. One last thing on this reliability of HDD versus discs. Discs scratch. How reliable is that? HDD have no moving parts, surely less to go wrong and therefore more reliable than a machine that has optical drives and spinning discs? I have had several viruses on my computer but my data has survived, why? Different drives;- rebooted from disc, wiped the C drive, sure, but my data was on a partition drive or external drive. So come on, who wants to make money out there tech heads? Sort out movie downloading and you can relax in the Cayman Islands.
MiniDisc Credit: Jon Dowland/flickr
Blu-ray Credit: everyone's idle/flickr
Terabyte drive Credit:elliotcable flickr