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The Future of Digital Media - No More Physical Copies

The advent of the compact disc (CD), and later the digital versatile disc (DVD) were, at the times of their respective creation, were thought to be the end all and be all of media storage and playback. There have been other types of digital media designed for the mass market such as digital audio tapes (DAT's), mini disc's (MD's) to name but a couple of mediums that were at the time, touted as the next big thing to revolutionize how we stored, listened to and watched our digital media.

Author: A.Jay
Date: May 15, 2011 - 2:37:06 AM


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The advent of the compact disc (CD), and later the digital versatile disc (DVD) were, at the times of their respective creation, were thought to be the end all and be all of media storage and playback. There have been other types of digital media designed for the mass market such as digital audio tapes (DAT's), mini disc's (MD's) to name but a couple of mediums that were at the time, touted as the next big thing to revolutionize how we stored, listened to and watched our digital media. And now, with the mainstream fully embracing Blu-Ray technology, digital optical media seems to have peaked in terms of capability and usefulness.

If you were to discover that optical media, regardless of whether we're talking about cd's, dvd's or the impossibly awesome blu-ray, had a limited lifespan and in fact may not be the ultimate storage or playback method...well, you'd likely be a bit surprised, shocked, maybe even a bit angry depending on how much money and time you've invested in your media library. Guess what?

Digital media and optical storage methods are, in fact, not built to last forever, despite what you may think based on what you've read or have been told by the salesman who sold you your blu-ray player. Great. All those cases of cd's and dvd's and blu-rays have a finite lifespan attached to them - now what? Wait until the next disc based storage format comes along? Sell off your collections based in anticipation of the next even smaller storage format? Believe it or not, the future is already here and slowly gaining traction in the form of all digital content that you stream from a central location throughout your home.

With the rising popularity of services like Netflix and iTunes, consumers are quickly becoming used to the notion of not actually owning physical copies of their media. It may take some time to wrap your head around the idea of going all digital, after all, having bookcases or closets or racks and racks full of music and movies is impressive to look at and, until recently, the commonplace and accepted method of storage and display.

Being able to back-up and copy all of your optical media to one central location, such as a plug in hard drive attached to your main computer, would instantly eliminate the need for physical copies. The space savings alone are enough of an incentive for many consumers to consider this option. Add in the ability to stream wirelessly to any location in your home or to your portable devices, and the idea of owning physical copies of your music and movies seems downright old fashioned.

If you don't have wireless in your home, there is always an alternative option. By utilizing a media hub or similar device, you can simply unplug your hard drive and connect it to whatever TV screen you choose to use. This method also makes your entire library portable - you could easily take your entire library of music and movies with you wherever you go. Try taking one thousand DVD’s anywhere and you'll see the benefit of an all-digital library pretty quickly!

Many of the music or film purists who have large collections will always cite the inability to have cover art as one of the reasons to retain physical copies of films and music. There is some merit to this as cover art is an established and attractive part of the music or film contained within. But many of the media players and all digital storage methods offer the user the ability to attach album covers and movie poster art to their corresponding digital files (*"cover flow" in iTunes is a great example of this), thus allowing you to retain the familiar while utilizing the new methodology.

While blu-ray media is currently in fashion and is considered the end all be all of digital media, the evolution to non-physical copies is happening as we speak. Hard drives are getting bigger and capable of more storage. Streaming media throughout the home is simple enough for the average user to install and calibrate. You may not be quite ready to put your existing media up for sale - that's ok for the time being.

You've had a lifelong relationship with your albums and movies. But as your choices increase and more and more films and albums are added to your library, combined with the finite lifespan of optical disc based storage, sooner or later you'll begin to consider going all digital. Whether you make the choice sooner or later, the ease of use, not to mention all of the benefits already discussed here (*think of the space you'll save around the house!), will have you thinking about your library in a whole new way. Embrace the future of digital media.The Future of Digital Media - No More Physical Copies


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