21 July 2007

iTunes Here I Come

Today, I expanded my computer horizons and went multimedia, a functionality that my computer has, but which I have basically used as a mere DVD and CD player until now.

I installed iTunes today, and also ripped a CD for the first time today (one I bought legitimately and won't be making available for download). I don't plan on buying very much from iTunes. I probably spend under $50 a year buying music and movies, and don't expect to spend more with iTunes. But, the virtues of being able to buy songs piecemeal for a buck, rather than spending $15 on a CD full of songs I may care less about, is worthwhile. I'd rather get the 15 songs I like most from what I hear on the radio, than a full CD with just one or two of those songs on it. The ability to download rather than going to a record store are increasingly attractive, but is a smaller draw.

My first download was the premier of the second season of Kyle XY, which wraps up the cliffhanger details left hanging at the end of last season. For $2 bucks, it was worth it, considering I'd spent $8 and tax at Blockbuster to see the first ten episodes and wanted some closure. Also, with a download, you get to keep it forever. I've gotten out of the habit of watching TV live at pre-set times, I don't get cable or satellite TV. I could get those, but I don't want to pay $30 a month for the privilege, and more to get the stations I'd want to watch. My time budget for TV is a few hours a month on average. But, this way, even though I missed the broadcast TV version, I don't have to subscribe to TV guide to track down the repeat broadcast, but I don't have to wait until the entire next season CD is available at my local video store. I'm not willing to pay $2 an episode to watch the entire season so far, when I can pay half that in a few months at the videostore, but I am willing to pay $1 extra to see the pilot early.

I've gotten TV shows on video once or twice before, and when that is all the TV you pay for in a year or two, it is a lot cheaper than cable or satellite, and is competive with pay per view. But, you still have access to the stuff that has gotten good buzz. TV is still about half the price per length of video as movies.

Downloading movies, while twice as expensive as renting a video, isn't all that expensive either. Seeing a movie in a first run theater at night costs about the same amount, and more after you compare theater popcorn prices to home popcorn prices. And, you can see the download more than once.

There were some small bugs in getting iTunes set up (font issues). It also takes a really long time to download a TV program and huge software programs like the iTunes which is a memory hog. But, I don't plan on doing it often enough to make a connection speed upgrade to my DSL worth the trouble (especially after having just signed on to an extended contract at a good price at the current reasonably high speed).

While it needs faster connection speeds and a bit lower prices to get universal penetration, even for marginal media consumers like myself, I have little doubt that this is the wave of the future. And, if I lived someplace off the beaten track by mail, but still with a high speed internet connection, you can bet I'd spend a lot at iTunes instead of record stores and on movie rentals and going to movies.


Anonymous said...

Scroll down the front page of the iTunes Store and you'll see a section labeled "FREE on iTunes." There are usually three songs: the single of the week, the Latino single of the week, and the discovery download. There are frequently TV episodes; usually featurettes, but occasionally pilots or premieres.

As we get more content (esp. digital pictures, but also music and movies) without physical media, it becomes even more important to have a good backup strategy. I recommend cloning (i.e., backing up the entire drive), so that you don't accidentally miss something important. If possible, make the clone bootable, so that you can actually use your computer while you're waiting for a replacement drive.

I make a bootable clone on an external drive using a program called SuperDuper. On Windows, I believe Acronis True Image is comparable.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...


Anonymous said...

I will second the backup strategy. While I don't use whole drive cloning, I do recommend using an offsite backup utility in addition to an onsite one for any sensitive data. That way, in the event of any major disaster that would damage your computer and your backup in your home or office, you can still recover. I highly recommend the solution from Mozy.com. It is unlimited offsite backup for $4.95/month. The backup is encrypted so only you can access your files. Mozy employees cannot access your files, but they are available 24/7 for support if needed.