DVRs, Placeshifting and the Internet: Future Home Video Trends

We've decided to look into the future of home video and predict five growing trends that we see in this marketplace. Covering DVD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, Internet video delivery systems and in-demand video services, DVR storage and placeshifting. Which technologies are disappearing? Which technologies will be the wave of the future?

Since VHS has officially been declared dead, consumers probably will not watch too many movies on VHS tapes nor will consumers continue to use VCRs to record shows from TV. Instead consumers will use Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) such as TiVo DVRs even more heavily.

Speaking of DVRs, high-definition is supported with the release of TiVo Series 3 earlier this year. Many cable and satellite integrated DVRs already supported the HDTV format as well. With storage space continuing to climb, DVRs could morph into an integrated recording and storage unit for not only TV shows but purchased movies and other media as well.

Next we have DVDs. For the most part people use DVDs for watching movies. There is a small minority of people that use DVD recorders as their next-gen “VCR”. DVDs overtook the sales of VHS tapes last year and the separation between the two technologies has exploded this year. In addition, most manufacturers have stopped manufacturing VHS tapes. With that said, DVDs are in the late fall of their lifespan. While new DVD players provide up-conversion to hi-def helping to prolong the lifetime and enhance the imagery from DVDs on your HDTV, newer formats are being pushed heavily.

Trend #1: DVDs starting to die.

New competing technologies are battling to be the next format consumers will use to watch high-definition videos. You’ve seen the hype everywhere as two camps, Blu-ray and HD-DVD, have started to release and announce products supporting their formats.

Blu-ray is backed by Sony, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric, Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, TDK, and Thomson Multimedia. Sony’s latest game console, the PS3, was released with a Blu-ray drive included.

Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, and Memory-Tech represent the vendors supporting HD-DVD. Microsoft also supports HD-DVD and will include support for it in its next version of Windows. Support for Blu-ray may also be on the table though. Microsoft announced a new version of their game console, the XBOX 360, that will include a HD-DVD drive.

So, who will consumers support for the next generation of home videos... Blu-ray or HD-DVD?

NEITHER! The longer it takes for these formats to gain a foothold in the marketplace, the less chance either has to become a successful marketable format.

Trend #2: Blu-ray and HD-DVD will become irrelevant quickly.

Next concept, try to think in terms of musical content. More people are purchasing songs digitally over the Internet without having to purchase a physical item like a CD, tape, 8-track or record anymore using Internet music delivery stores like iTunes or Real Media. Brick and mortar stores like Tower Records are no longer relevant. Video has started to ascend to this level as well.

The future of video rentals and purchases include online video delivery stores and on-demand cable services. This will become especially true as FiOS and other high speed Internet connections are deployed and are reasonably priced for consumers. Currently FiOS allows speeds of up to 30 Mbps for downloads allowing hi-def content to be streamed.

TiVo has already announced and started delivering video content via a broadband connection. iTunes provides video delivery of TV shows and movies through their popular and easy to use iTunes application. Amazon Unbox allows you to download DVD-quality rentals and purchases. Finally, next generation movie rental places such as MovieBeam have arrived with set-top boxes that receive rented video content over the air (see review here).

Trend #3: Internet video delivery and in-demand video services will be the way to purchase videos in the near future.

Remember earlier in the article when I mentioned DVRs could be used to store purchased video content as well as act as the digital VCR? As a person who has firsthand lost their video content on a TiVo due to a hard drive failure, a new hard drive technology will be needed for consumers to trust storage of all video content on a DVR. Wouldn't it be great if hard drives were more like flash drives using solid state technology? After all, solid state technology has no moving parts so the devices create less heat, generate less noise, provide faster access and are less susceptible to breaking down. It turns out Samsung and others have been working on manufacturering NAND hard drives at larger capacities. Currently, Samsung has stretched the capacity to 32GB using NAND.

Trend #4: DVRs and other video storage devices will use NAND hard drives.

One last trend worth mentioning in home video entertainment is place-shifting.

Today there's a new revolution in electronics that's redefining not only when you watch TV, but where. Even though timeshifting allowed you to watch television on your schedule, you still had to be in front of your TV when it came time to watch a show. Today, new pioneers like California-based Sling Media are introducing the next big concept called placeshifting, and the results of this new focus is bringing new products and technologies that allow you to watch and listen to your favorite television shows anywhere in the world.

In addition to Sling Media, Sony Locationfree and Monsoon Multimedia's Hava allow you to watch your video content anywhere on the Internet.

Trend #5: Placeshifting will continue to grow with better compression and more bandwidth providing better quality video.

Home Video trends over the next few years will be interesting to watch. Content stored on physical media (DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD) will start to be replaced with content delivered over the Internet or in-demand. Storage will start to migrate from today's hard drives to solid state technology resulting in lower power consumption, less heat, less noise and faster access times. Finally, since your video content will be stored in bits and bytes, you will be able to watch all of your video content from anywhere.