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Physical Love

Several months back, in The Edge of Scarcity, I tried to define my “process” for targeting rare, out-of-print music DVDs, CDs and books, the tools I use and explained my rationale; as thinly logical as it was. Over these past months, I can’t help but wonder about the eventual death of physical media for books, music and movies given these recent events;

1. Borders: When I learned that Borders was closing stores early in the year, I was relived to learn that the location near my work place had survived the cut. That was short term. Today, that former Borders is another empty hole in a strip center with a “For Lease” sign covering the windows. While I generally used Borders as a newstand to buy the latest issues of my favorite magazines, the books, DVDs and occasional CDs I still purchase mostly come via eBay and gently used Amazon resellers (describe in December). The closing of all national Borders should be a concern to everyone, but so far only employees seem displaced and disgruntled by the turn of events. Personally, I think there would be a place for $5 book, CD, DVD retail store (used & new blended like Half-Price Books does so well) to compete with the likes of… Well, who was the competition for Borders? Barnes & Noble? Wal-Mart? Amazon and their Kindle? Do people read any more anyway?

2. Roku: For Christmas, Mrs. Claus (my wife), bought me a shiney new Roku box for our TV. The Roku tied into our high-speed wireless network immediately and within minutes I was selecting channels from my new toy. Current Roku “Channles” include; Amazon Instant Video, Revision 3, Weather Underground, Roku Newscaster, My Damn Channel (I LOVE Cookin’ with Coolio), Khan Academy, The TWiT Network, Vajra TV (go Buddhists!), Chow, TED, blip.TV, UFC, Hulu Plus and Crackle (reruns of Good Times cannot be underestimated!). So between Netflix offering 12,000 movies available instantly and Amazon Instant providing hundreds of the most current rental options (we’ve seen The Fighter, Inception & Black Swan) and our Hulu Plus queue keeping our TV reality current with Shark Tank, Food Revolution and 30 Rock, we now watch about physical DVD/Blu-Ray once a month, maybe.

3. HDMI Laptop: The second shift was when my former laptop took a turn for the worse at the start of the year, I began researching my options and ended up with a Toshiba with a HDMI output. With a 12′ HDMI cable and a dual monitor setting, I can write this post on my laptop screen while our 32″ LCD displays a wide-variery of YouTube videos, full online episodes of Amazing Race & Celebrity Apprentice (not available on Hulu directly) and any other movies or videos I happen to downloading using… OTHER services. Plus, the same laptop is connected via USB to a hard drive dock that contains a total of 3 terrabytes of storage. Why did I download all seasons and all episodes of the Odd Couple? Because I can. And because they weren’t available yet on Netflix or Crackle.

4. Netflix: While we had Netflix on the Nintendo Wii for many months prior to getting the Roku box, the Wii does not provide high definition out. A single HDMI connector handles both high-definition video and full-surround sound audio with ONE cable! Further, for whatever reason, our Wii seemed very forgetful about our local wireless network and so it sits collecting dust, waiting for us to check our weight and balance with Wii Fit. But the Netflix service continues to expand the available selection of instant, on-demand movies and TV shows. While not available for my Andoid (yet), my wife’s iPhone can tie in with our Netflix queue and pull any of that same content from wherever we are. While not as popular as Pandora for her, the idea of streaming music, movies or TV shows to a small device, like a phone, iPad or highly portal Roku box keeps us entertained anywhere we so desire.

5. Rdio & Google Music: While I was impressed with my former trial period of Rdio perviously, and how cool it was to tell my android to play a song, and it did, it simply wasn’t worth the $4.95 per month charge. But I really like the idea of being able to stream any music, in good quality whenever I wanted. Both Google and Amazon have recently announce a beta launch for a new music services that promises the same, plus more. Not only can you stream your music on demand, but with the Google service you can “pin” music to your device which uses your local storage to save your most important music, audio books, etc. to the device directly for flawless playback regardless of data network coverage.

So now, as me and Mrs. Claus prepare to move our entire lives again, I’m taking a long hard look at these hundreds of movies, music DVDs and CDs and wondering, what REALLY matters? What would NOT be available through these various services?
The surprising answer is… not much.

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