Check out Sony’s new toy. Excessive doesn’t do it justice.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Sony's flat screen at the IFA. Boom. (Photo courtesy the Associated Press)

Sony’s flat screen at the IFA. Boom. (Photo courtesy the Associated Press)

Fun fact: I have two iPods — one for talk radio and one for music. I’m nowhere near getting all my music onto the music iPod and it’s already halfway full. I’m almost completely out of room on my talk radio iPod, so I will one day (sooner than later) need another one of those. One iPod has 60 gigabytes of space; the other, 160. At a combined 220 GBs, I know full well that such is nowhere near enough space to store everything I want to store.

Naturally, you don’t care about my iPods, my iPod sizes or how much of a vague humblebrag that first paragraph was. I get it. So, why write it? Well, that’s to add perspective. Add perspective to what? Let’s simply read a headline that popped up on the website Tech2 earlier today:

Sony launches world’s first 4K video download service

The first words?

“Sony has launched a new service that allows users to download 4K Ultra HD videos,” Shunal Doke wrote. “Titled Video Unlimited 4K, the service has an ever-expanding library of native ultra HD movies and TV shows. At launch, the library has 70 full-length movies and TV shows. The company expects more than 100 videos to be added to the library before the end of the year.”

Oh, but what does my obnoxious iPod diatribe have to do with anything? Let’s go over to Todd Spanger of Variety. He sure does have a bunch to say and it’s all pretty interesting stuff …

“Among the obstacles facing the technology will be getting the content delivered to consumers,” Spanger wrote Wednesday. “According to Sony, the 4K movie titles will each take up 45 to 60 gigabytes, allowing users (to) download and store up to 50 movies on the company’s FMP-X1 4K set-top. Sony’s using an encoding system from startup Eye IO to compress the video, but has declined to specify the compression rate. The relatively hefty file sizes mean that users may quickly exceed bandwidth-usage restrictions set by many broadband providers, including AT&T U-verse, Cox Communications and Charter Communications. For example, AT&T’s top limit for U-verse Internet is 250 gigabytes per month — meaning consumers could hit the limit by accessing just a half-dozen 4K titles, and pay extra for anything over that. Comcast also is testing usage-based bandwidth pricing in several markets, with overage charges for customers who exceed certain thresholds.”

The point? Don’t try putting these things on your iPods.

What this amounts to — from a TV Without A TV perspective at least — is simple: The race to Internet television domination also includes quality. Not only do companies want us to ditch our traditional cable TV packages in favor of a “we control what we watch” approach, but they also want us to gaze in amazement at how great it all looks.

The issue at hand then becomes this: How much will this race for superior caliber matter in the evolution of the medium?

The answer to that is far more relevant than I, for one, had ever even previously considered. It’s sort of like how every family in the universe rushed out to buy a flat-screen TV five years ago simply because the appearance made them feel more successful at life. The bigger and the flatter your television set was than your friends’ television set meant you finally beat said friends at life, if only for a night. Status is the correct word here. Impressive TVs gave consumers a false sense of status.

Or, well, I guess “false” is a bit presumptuous here. But you get the point.

Anyway, all this time I had been operating under the notion that the race for content and exposure was the true measuring stick for this all, but maybe (as it so often goes) I was wrong. Who’s to say that the actual picture itself won’t be a deciding factor in what some people choose to go with? Could this be what’s kept Apple from throwing a TV-looking TV out there so flippantly? Is this inevitable sea change being stifled because the amount of pixels on a screen can’t yet be compromised with practicality?

Yet another layer into the mystery that is the future of television. And on a Friday, too.

For those who could afford to buy my life (by the way — look at Sony stepping up its game lately!), the breakdown of price goes as such:

  • $3.99 for an episode of television (still four “Breaking Bad” episodes left, and yes, that’s one of the handful of shows being offered on these things)
  • $7.99 to rent something for a day (wow – eight bucks to rent)
  • $29.99 to buy a movie (yikes)

As for the actual set? You’re looking at $3,999 for a 55-inch screen and then … get ready for it … a cool $25,000 for the top-of-the-line stuff.

Remember when you could buy a house for that much money? What a world. Oh, what a world.

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