Many changes are underfoot that will change how you consume content in the years ahead. A few weeks ago, Congress passed “Net Neutrality,” apparently ensuring a level playing field for anyone who wants internet access from giant corporations to homeless folks with a prepaid smart phone.
On its heels, HBO announced they would be opening up their streaming offerings in April with HBO NOW, a new service that eliminates the service provider requirement currently in place. Any Tom, Dick, and/or Harry can get HBO on their mobile device or streaming media terminal for $15 per month, whether or not they have it from cable or satellite.
Take a Bite of The Apple
Many news sources are reporting a new AppleTV is set to debut, which will include a faster processor, 4K video capability, and even Siri voice control. More revolutionary, if true, is the device’s access to an also-rumored Apple streaming TV service. Is it really true? Hey, this stuff is nothing, if not thought provoking, but given the rumor quantity, we’re betting it is.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, Apple has been in negotiations with a plethora of TV services that would be a perfect fit, including Disney’s ABC, CBS, and Fox. Conspicuously absent, and possibly a deal breaker for some consumers, are anything Comcast/NBC Universal related. Talks between Apple and the cable giant went south, so for now, Apple’s out on the NBC, Bravo, UniversalHD, and USA channel families. $30-$40 monthly fees are being tossed about, but who knows what consumers will really see.
One thing you can count on though; the other streaming terminal manufacturers aren’t going to be sitting still, either. Amazon, Roku, and the smart TV manufacturers are revamping their streaming offerings and interfaces as we speak.
Now..don’t think that the cable companies will go down without a fight. If you “al a carte” your content, you could actually pay more! Something else to consider; unbundle TV from your Internet and your pricing could easily go up.
Now, For Your Ears
The other digital revolution underway is high resolution audio (HRA). Neil Young’s crowd funded Pono HRA player, and players from Sony, Pioneer, and other mainstream audio brands have really taken off. In Europe, HRA now accounts for more than half of all music downloads according to download service Qobuz.
Why the rise of HRA? Blame a huge industry push, less expensive audio gear (both sources and other equipment actually able to take advantage of it), and consumers recognizing they’ve been cheating their ears with a decade of digital music so highly compressed, it’s had the life literally stamped right out of it.
Yes, there’s finally a music source worth talking about again, but about those earbuds….Earbuds are great for the gym or bike ride, but really, even the best aren’t doing much for your ears. They can’t, really. The laws of physics intrude, no matter how well the little guys are made.
Doing HRA music justice and enjoying all the differences requires “real” headphones, or playback through an actual audio system that’s up to the task. Good HRA tracks are even more dynamic and nuanced than CD, so it’s just common sense that the basics just won’t do.
One last thing on HRA: It starts with the actual studio master recordings. HRA files are created directly from them, and capture every detail. You can’t create HRA from low quality sources such as MP3 and get high quality audio. “Good” MP3s aren’t even close. At last you can become involved with your music again!
What do all of the above media sources have in common? Yeah, you guessed it, your network. They all show up at your ears following lengthy travels from a server somewhere to your ISP, and through your home network to whatever the heck you’re playing and watching them on. Add to that the fact 4K movie files are positively immense and it’s not rocket science to conclude a really robust network equals a better experience. Faster 4K downloads and glitch free streaming don’t hurt, either.
A final network pointer: Putting your streaming devices and smart TVs on a hard wired network frees your wireless for devices that have no other way to connect, and makes them work better. It sure makes a difference and that’s what The Big Picture can provide.
Contact us now to discuss how you can take advantage of these new developments.
Phil Giordano, The Big Picture Media Systems