Blu-ray or HD-DVD -- Who Cares? Apple TV Shows the Disc-Killing Online Future

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The battle for mindshare -- and money -- between HD-DVD and Blu-ray disc technologies may be a big yawn, thanks to a compelling picture presented by emerging online services. When the Apple TV "Take Two" boxes begin receiving instant downloads of popular movies and TV programs later this month, viewers may decide to use their old discs as coffee table coasters.

The DVD, with us barely 10 years, is on the verge of extinction, thanks to new technologies with vastly greater storage capacities. But as proponents of Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats, the competing pretenders to the throne, prepare to pop the champagne corks to celebrate, they may discover the real party is online.

Apple introduced its Apple TV television product, designed for downloading and playing video content, to the market last year, with mixed reviews. In January the company announced a major software upgrade that provides more functionality and greater ease of use, combined with reduced pricing,

Some industry experts think this time Apple got it right. Among the new benefits is the ability of users to rent and purchase movies from Apple's iTunes online store and download them directly to the Apple TV, as well as to download podcasts and stream photos live from .Mac and Flickr.

Apple TV may best be described as a special use computer that connects to a wide-screen television, making it an integral part of home or office computing networks - an iPod on steroids. The Apple TV can play HD and standard definition movies, and it supports Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. It works with any standard home networking equipment, PC or Mac.

"Apple's iTunes has been wildly successful selling music a song or an album at a time online," Keith Prather, president of Doctor Sound., Inc., said. "As iTunes music is to the iPod, so it appears iTunes video will be to the Apple TV."

Prather, whose company designs and installs custom audio, video and home theater systems, said consumers have longed for the ability to download current and older movies from the Internet instead of having to rent or buy them on discs. He said this natural extension of broadband capabilities now is fully ready.

"There have been devices for some time that enable people to play music stored on computers through home audio systems, and to project still photos, but video generally hasn't been included," Prather said. "Not only does Apple TV do all that, the company also provides the video content - the same model that built the phenomenal success of the iPod. This could blow the lid off the video download market faster than anyone may suspect."

Movies and TV shows only mark the beginning, according to Prather. By making a wide-screen television part of home computer networks, people will have all the content the Internet offers available for viewing on the big screens, from viral videos on You Tube to broadcast-quality independent productions now being made especially for online distribution.

Prather foresees fundamental changes coming in home entertainment. "Now Apple TV makes it easy to download and watch movies on big screens instead of having to sit in front of a computer monitor. It's very liberating, and people will embrace it. Our customers are already asking for more information."

About Doctor Sound

Doctor Sound is a leader in the design, sale and installation of custom home theater and sound systems. A North Texas standout for more than 10 years, Doctor Sound has earned its reputation for excellence through elegant design and skilled installation by CEDIA-certified installers. For more information, Call Doctor Sound at 972-317-6525 or visit our Website at http://www.drsoundinc.com.

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Cassidy Prather
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