Tuesday, August 1, 2006

CinemaNow's Burn To DVD

I have always been a big fan of Phoenix 12 News’ Call 12 for Action team. The group is lead by Rick DeBruhl and Dave Cherry. Over the years, they have done a fantastic job focusing on consumer related issues.

On July 24, Rick did a story about the online movie service CinemaNow and its new Burn To DVD feature. CinemaNow is selling downloadable movies directly to individual users, and then the users can make the DVDs themselves.

video: 6.84 MB windows media

As Rick concluded at the end of the segment that although CinemaNow’s Burn To DVD feature is very time consuming, it may be the future of digital entertainment.

The biggest problem I see with CinemaNow’s service is its pricing. For example, during the news segment, Rick purchased and downloaded a 2003 movie called Rick starring Bill Pullman for $9.99, and then he had to burn it onto a blank DVDR, which he had to purchase himself.

I do not see the incentive of having the user to do all the work yet still paying $10 for a movie that is over 3 years old. A quick check in Amazon.com, the same movie in original DVD format is only $6.86 new, and used version is as low as $1.99.

Something else bugged me about CinemaNow was it forces users to access its content through Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and its DVD burning software had digital rights management (DRM) only allow users to burn each DVD once.

Since CinemaNow’s DVDs have to be compatible with most DVD players, thus their file structures are the same as any other DVDs. In order to burn more than one copy of the downloaded material, all users have to do is run the initial copy of DVD through softwares like DVD Decrypter or DVD Shrink, then the same copy can be reproduced into unlimited copies.

Personally, I do not care about the extra foreign language tracks, deleted scenes, or audio commentaries that are bundled into DVDs. I wish there are options so that I could pay a much lower price for a DVD that has only the widescreen movie without any of the bonus features, than having to pay for something that I would never use.

Related: Boingboing, Thomas Hawk, Washington Post

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