Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th May 2009 12:28 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems As you'll hear in the latest OSNews podcast (recorded yesterday, published later today), we had a discussion about Sony and some of its failed attempts at capturing mind share with proprietary technologies, among which the excellent but mismanaged MiniDisc technology. Imagine my surprise when I was browsing the web this morning, looking for news, and stumbled upon a supposedly new model of the Aspire One - with a Vmedia drive. A what?
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SDHC all the way!!
by kragil on Mon 18th May 2009 12:51 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

Moving parts in computers have to die!
(But I guess it will be slow painful death.)

Reply Score: 3

RE: SDHC all the way!!
by darknexus on Mon 18th May 2009 13:33 UTC in reply to "SDHC all the way!!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Moving parts in computers have to die!
(But I guess it will be slow painful death.)


Except that currently, optical media if well-maintained has a much longer shelf-life than any flash-based media... and optical media requires moving parts.

That being said, I think this is pretty much doomed to fail anyway. No burners, only up to 2gb storage (come on, seriously?), not very useful for quick backups due to the need to burn disks, DRM, and possibly a high price for content... all the while with downloadable content quickly becoming the norm in a good number of areas. It's an interesting experiment, but somehow I just don't think it's going to catch on.

And, I have to ask, DRM? Why bother doing that anymore, media people? It'll be cracked in a matter of weeks, we all know that, and they're still wasting money on DRM and consequently requiring media formats and devices to waste money on it too, upping the cost to the consumer for no gain whatsoever. V-media had to either develop or license DRM, adding cost to what will almost certainly be an already expensive medium... it really doesn't look good. Plus, even then, the movie studios would have to jump on the bandwagon, and devices would really need to become ubiquitous; and I'm not talking just on netbooks, I mean in home entertainment systems, desktops, TVs... everywhere. With Blue Ray basically being shoved upon us already, and DVDs not going anywhere in a very long time, how many people are going to buy yet another copy of their videos just to watch on their netbook when they could either rip or download or even pirate a copy for their netbook or other portable device? With all of the current portable movie players out now too?

Always in motion the future is... difficult to see. But for this format, look good it does not.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: SDHC all the way!!
by Laurence on Mon 18th May 2009 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE: SDHC all the way!!"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Absolutely spot on


<rant>

I would have +1 you if OSNews' b0rked modding system wasn't banning votes to specific users because they happen to frequently post good comments

</rant>

Edited 2009-05-18 14:39 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: SDHC all the way!!
by kragil on Mon 18th May 2009 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE: SDHC all the way!!"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

I only use CD-RWs or DVD-RWs if I want to watch a movie at a friends place and he/she only has a DVD-player without SD card solt or USB.

Other than that I use hard drives for big stuff and SD cards for not so big stuff.

My 8 GB SD card has seen so much usage. No DVD-RW would have survived that.

CD/DVDs are just better diskettes, they scratch and break easily, they are big. Their packaging sucks.

SD cards and USB sticks are so much faster, easier to handle, need no special software, can have good file systems and are more robust.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: SDHC all the way!!
by darknexus on Mon 18th May 2009 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: SDHC all the way!!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Flash-based media is certainly more durable in day-to-day usage. What I meant, by shelf-life, was exactly that. If they are stored in a dark place, optical media will last longer than flash media over the long term, as the electrical charge that holds data persistent on the flash media eventually will bleed away if left inactive for a long period of time (note I'm talking about years, not months). Therefore, until we come up with something better, we will always need a way to read these optical disks and so moving parts in a computer will always be present in some form or another, for archival purposes if nothing else.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: SDHC all the way!!
by kragil on Mon 18th May 2009 18:26 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: SDHC all the way!!"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

Well that might be true in theory, but from my experience most of my really old CD-Rs are broken (10+ years). That is why I use HDs to archive stuff. As long as you fire them up fire them up from time to time you are fine.

In the long run moving parts will die, at least for home users ... but I also think dead tree books are on their way out so maybe take my word with a grain of salt.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ichi
by ichi on Mon 18th May 2009 12:51 UTC
ichi
Member since:
2007-03-06

And this is likely to fail if only because (almost) no one will be buying movies that you can only watch on your portable device. Same as happened with the UMD.

Back in the day when Sony released the UMD it would have been neat if you could buy a movie and get both the DVD and the UMD together for about the same price, but there was just no point in buying a pricey UMD that you can only use on your PSP (more so when you can buy the DVD, rip it and watch the movie from the memory card).

And then again, even if they released standalone vmedia drives, what would be the point if you can already get better picture quality with blu-ray?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ichi
by bnolsen on Mon 18th May 2009 16:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by ichi"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

UMD *may* have worked at the time if sony had released it as a general optical format instead of movie/games only.

5.25" slots really are a waste in a computer case, the main reason they still exist is because of optical drives.

That being said now download + flash is the best way to go. Burning media is just a PITA. Now I have a single external USB dvd which pretty much just sits in a corner doing nothing. Not having internal optical is worth the power savings alone.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by ichi
by darknexus on Mon 18th May 2009 16:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ichi"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Ugh. Flash, if we want a smooth experience for all, is not the way to go at least not as long as we're stuck with Adobe's player as the only option. You want to try and stream 1080P with Flash on a non quad-core system without a cable line or better? Go right ahead, but don't be surprised if it locks your system up tight.
Flash is good for videos such as those on Youtube, but I really wouldn't want to rely on it for watching a full-length movie in HD, apart from Flash itself there's always the chance of your net connection dropping out.
Personally, I like the idea of downloadable media, but it's currently hampered by two main factors. First, we just don't have the bandwidth everywhere to handle it. Second, every download service uses a different, DRM-riddled format, which will leave you up the creek if said provider goes belly-up or decides to switch formats and drop support for playing your older downloads. The thing about DVDs, and blue ray, and even VHS is that I can still play them, as devices and/or software are readily available to do so. I can't say the same about my iTunes videos, what happens if Apple/iTunes falls by the wayside? No more videos. Even though I paid for them I can no longer watch them at that point.
Until downloadable content is in a universal format, I don't see it replacing optical media.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by ichi
by arpan on Mon 18th May 2009 17:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ichi"
arpan Member since:
2006-07-30

He's talking about flash drives, as in hardware, not Adobe Flash.

The stuff in thumb drives, SSDs etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by ichi
by darknexus on Mon 18th May 2009 18:02 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by ichi"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The OP said "download plus flash," so I'm not sure which one. To me it sounded like Flash, as in Adobe Flash since we were talking about downloadable video.
Too many identical words for different things. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Doomed Due to Industry Intransigent
by bornagainenguin on Mon 18th May 2009 13:11 UTC
bornagainenguin
Member since:
2005-08-07

I hate to say it, but you're probably right Thom and as much as I've wanted something like this on portables for awhile now I don't think it is going to happen either. That's a real shame too considering it really looks as though Panasonic and Vmedia put some real effort into this one. Reading their site tells us that they worked to make the drive especially suitable for battery life on low powered devices and the disc cartridges for durability.

The problems start when you realize based on past performance it will be nearly impossible to find movies or music on Vmedia format due to the licensing games the media companies prefer to play (while watching their markets inevitbly turn to downloads as the new distribution method that routes around exactly this sort of nonsense).

There is also the issue of finding even what is available on Vmedia in stores. Because it is a new format, with few titles, there will be few retailers willing to carry it. This negates the biggest advantage removable optical media has over downloadable content, the ability to be available right now.

As you said, at least (so far as we know) no region coding on these discs or their drives, which could potentially held with the content issues if certain parties get word of it and decide to set up shop online with unrestricted content for undiscriminating customers. I am reminded of the VCD market, which despite being quite grey and unsupported in the United States and many other countries still enjoyed a healthy life span selling unlicensed anime and foriegn films to those who wanted them and were not finicky about where it came from or quality of subtitling...

Again, assuming they haven't region coded the devices. Assuming it is possible for some entrepreneurs to get their hands on both blank Vmedia discs and burning kit. And we know that Vmedia has stated they will not be releasing customer capable Vmedia burners for at least another year now.

This last one is the final nail in the coffin. If they had instead released their Vmedia discs and drives with customer capable burning support first, allowing for an easy portable back up method it would have added value to the device it was added to and gotten the Vmedia name and branding out to the public's awareness. Oh wait...these discs only hold up to 1GB?

Nope, I take it all back--these discs are going to fail and fail miserably because they don't currently offer anything over current technology in use for (likely) far cheaper.

I can get a 1GB flash drive for under ten dollars (USD) these days and 4GB SD cards are inching their way under ten dollars as well.

I can download whatever I seek on various corners of the web and have it within an hour depending on my connection and willingness to pay. If I am in the USA I have Hulu and many many other options for streaming content.

Music is MP3s. Music is AAC. Music is OGG. Music is FLAC. Music is not little shiny discs and hasn't been for quite some time now...

So what do these Vmedia discs and drives offer me that I can't already get now elsewhere easier and far more cheaply? DRM.

I think I'll pass...

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 7

I have to disagree
by johnzw on Mon 18th May 2009 14:07 UTC
johnzw
Member since:
2009-05-18

I have to disagree with your characterization of Minidiscs as having "failed". Certainly they have not gained traction with consumers, but having experience with the business I can tell you they were, and to an extent still are quite popular in the U.S. commercial radio industry. In particular we tend to use them in professional quality portable recording devices.

Very importantly, it was digital whereas, for instance, Carts were analogue and digital is mostly easier to work with than analogue for production purposes.

Lately small HDs, flash storage and CD-R/RW are starting to encroach upon the space served by minidiscs but I expect them to last quite a bit longer, this industry can be surprisingly conservative for heaven's sake we still sometimes use DATs!

Reply Score: 2

RE: I have to disagree
by Soulbender on Mon 18th May 2009 16:23 UTC in reply to "I have to disagree"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I have to disagree with your characterization of Minidiscs as having "failed".


I"m sure he meant as a consumer device because that is something at which it failed miserably.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I have to disagree
by bibe on Tue 19th May 2009 12:20 UTC in reply to "I have to disagree"
bibe Member since:
2005-07-09

You can't beat USB based storage in simplicity and compatibility. Format wars shifted more to software(ogg, mp3, flac), I can't imagine a new sort of MiniDisc format that would beat a USB based one, that window of opportunity is over.

Reply Score: 1

I second
by coreyography on Mon 18th May 2009 15:57 UTC
coreyography
Member since:
2009-03-06

I second some of what has been said here. This will fail in its current form, not because people want "downloadable" content (I am not one of them, more on that later), but because this offers zero advantages over SDHC or even CompactFlash media -- except maybe on paper to the content companies if they DRM it to death (real world, it _will_ be cracked).

The problem with downloadable (video) content is that the bandwidth is not there to fully support it. Even if I did believe in pirating movies, I for one do not want to wait for nearly 5 GB of data to download -- and that's for a regular DVD, let alone Blu-ray. Downloading is only good IMHO for the quarter-screen stuff I watch on YouTube and the like. Unless codec technology makes some major advances (because the bandwidth providers are not likely to expand the pipes anytime soon), I will still be carting around my physical media.

Edit: What's sad is that Panasonic and Acer waste their time on this crap instead of solving actual customer problems.

Edited 2009-05-18 15:59 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: I second
by bornagainenguin on Mon 18th May 2009 18:08 UTC in reply to "I second"
bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

coreyography posted...

The problem with downloadable (video) content is that the bandwidth is not there to fully support it.


You must mean streaming video.

coreyography posted...
Even if I did believe in pirating movies, I for one do not want to wait for nearly 5 GB of data to download -- and that's for a regular DVD, let alone Blu-ray.


Not true. I've seen Divx rips that were HD quality (or near enough that I couldn't tell the difference) at only 700MBs. You forget the good is the enemy of the perfect--for the average person, "good" is...well, good enough!

coreyography posted...
Downloading is only good IMHO for the quarter-screen stuff I watch on YouTube and the like. Unless codec technology makes some major advances (because the bandwidth providers are not likely to expand the pipes anytime soon), I will still be carting around my physical media.


This has actual started to happen. I mentioned the 700MBs Divx rips above? Well I've seen videos encoded with H.264 that were just as good, if not noticeably better at half that file size. I've also seen some excellent anime encodes that were only 50MBs!

The trouble is finding people who know what they're doing to encode it with those results--people who know how are hoarding their knowledge right now because they think it makes them look like ├╝ber H4X0R5 instead of the impediments they actually are.

coreyography posted...
Edit: What's sad is that Panasonic and Acer waste their time on this crap instead of solving actual customer problems.


No, what's sad is Panasonic and Acer have a wonderful solution to portable media that is small, protected (discs come in cartridges), optimized for battery life on lowe-power devices, etc, but it will never be the success it could be due to the media corporations fiddling while their content distribution empire burns away.

Despite what I said above about codecs improving and so on, being able to just walk into a video store and rent a movie on some form of optical disc is a convenience. Being able to hit any Big Box store and walk out with a handful of movies for a trip is a convenience. Right now there is a huge convenience buffer on the side of the media and content distribution industries, but it won't stay that way forever.

Bandwidth will increase, people will create nwer and better codecs, the world will route around these unnecessary barriers. I'm just sorry to see so many promising pieces of technology cast aside due to inability for the content distributors to get their acts together. I'm also sorry to see us stuck with so many pieces of technology that are only "good enough" because of intransigence like this requiring so much routing around.

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 2

RE: I second
by bibe on Tue 19th May 2009 12:35 UTC in reply to "I second"
bibe Member since:
2005-07-09

The problem with downloadable (video) content is that the bandwidth is not there to fully support it. Even if I did believe in pirating movies, I for one do not want to wait for nearly 5 GB of data to download -- and that's for a regular DVD, let alone Blu-ray.


It's like you overslept last 2 years. Most ~90min movie's on the net fit on a one layer DVD(~4GB) in awesome 720p quality (x264 codec), now if it's your favorite movie and want to enjoy it in full HD/1080p you should buy a BlueRay disc.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: I second
by coreyography on Wed 20th May 2009 02:43 UTC in reply to "RE: I second"
coreyography Member since:
2009-03-06

Well, I guess thanks for the updates. I have not been "sleeping"; it is probably more likely that between the lack of good movies, and the "convenience" of going and getting a DVD from Red Box or Wal-Mart, I have little interest in transcoding or downloading my own (even at ~700MB).

I think the comments about the media companies are spot-on, but even in absence of that I still would not be jumping all over this new format; it is still in my mind inferior to flash memory devices.

I am also not so sure that bandwidth will continue to increase, at least not until there is more financial incentive for providers to increase it. Everywhere I look I see bandwidth providers trying to either cap it or charge more for it above a certain rate.

Edited 2009-05-20 02:47 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: I second
by bornagainenguin on Wed 20th May 2009 03:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I second"
bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

coreyography posted...

I am also not so sure that bandwidth will continue to increase, at least not until there is more financial incentive for providers to increase it. Everywhere I look I see bandwidth providers trying to either cap it or charge more for it above a certain rate.


This is why the improvements in codec capabilities is so important! It isn't going to be a 700MB file for much longer, instead it is going to become a 300-400MB file for a movie and somewhere between 50MBs to 100MBs for the average TV show. And the quality will be just as good as DVD is now or better.

So even if bandwidth becomes limited, the situation will be routed around by software improvements in video encoding!

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 2

Nice.
by xnoreq on Mon 18th May 2009 16:31 UTC
xnoreq
Member since:
2009-01-06

Nice article! I also had one of those portable MD players, was quite nice..
But from what you have written it seems to me that Sony didn't even want MDs to succeed. :o

PS: there's a typo (which I why I used)

Reply Score: 1

This is Utterly Pointless
by segedunum on Mon 18th May 2009 17:48 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

Honestly, I don't know who they've buttered up to get these pointless drives installed on some machines:

1. The reason why the MiniDisc was of interest, and later mp3, was because you could gather up most of your music collection, carry it around with you and not have to hunt through CDs. I cannot see how this is going to do the same with video at all. Even if videos are compressed there is nowhere near enough space for it to be useful.

2. Videos will either already have to be encoded in the required format or people will need a means to rip and encode their DVDs or existing videos. I cannot imagine how bad the software will probably be for that as it was for the MiniDisc, not to mention the unbelievable and infeasible amount of time it will take to encode videos for h264 for mere mortals. I know, I'm doing it right now.

3. DRM. There is a reason why we don't have an entertainment system today that will rip DVDs to a hard drive and allow you to peruse your entire collection with a remote. The technology has been there for ages but nobody dare sell anything like it. The DRM restrictions on this will almost inevitably make this completely pointless to anyone who might be interested. No one is interested in reading a message as to why they can't play a particular video.

Besides, I have no clue how they will make DRM work with the system that I see there. There would have to be some means of tracking what copies had been made of what videos and that will be a bureaucrat by itself that will drag the system down.

Pointless technology? Check.

Virtually no advantage at all to carrying around DVD discs? Check.

No content currently available, with the means of converting existing content being far too difficult and long-winded? Check.

Content and copying restrictions that will take any remaining point it had for existing? Check.

It ticks all the boxes for a big fat fail in every single department. In fact, I can't remember any previous technology that has gone on to fail that has done that. At least there was something compelling and advantageous about stuff like MiniDisc and Betamax. There's zilch here.

Reply Score: 2

physical media
by poundsmack on Mon 18th May 2009 17:51 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

if you have to go with a physical media this really isn't a bad solution. The aplications for this kind of form factor size and technology could far exceed that of just a video device. if you could get this form factor standardized then it would be great for future stuff based on disc type technologies (such as GE's Holographic storage that is 500 gigs per disk).

But sadly, this one will probably do just as poorly as SanDisk's SlotMedia ambition ( http://www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelea... ). I wish them the best of luck, as the size is right and the idea is solid, but i doubt it will take off.

Reply Score: 2

MD
by DLazlo on Mon 18th May 2009 20:49 UTC
DLazlo
Member since:
2005-07-06

If you'll remember Thom, at least BeOS had one of the first graphical managment apps for MDs . Another case of 'too early to be appreciated'!

Reply Score: 1

I really don't get it
by cycoj on Tue 19th May 2009 01:12 UTC
cycoj
Member since:
2007-11-04

Thom apart from MD nostalgia what do you find appealing about this? Especially in portable devices.
I only see disadvantages compared to flash-based devices:

-they will drain the battery power a lot stronger
-their storage is tiny
-they can't be as robust as flash-based devices
-they will be expensive
-they are huge!

So really what is the advantage. Longlivity?? Come on who'd want to store anything on 2GB drives, how many of them do you wanna use. If you want a small DVD/BlueRay replacement, build a nonwriteable flash medium IMO.

I really don't get it *shacking his head*

Reply Score: 1

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 19th May 2009 03:45 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

Reminds me of what I said about the PSP - the problem is that flash is far too expensive to store music or videos on; my collection alone I have roughly 55GB of music - why should I have to 'chop and choose' because the flash manufacturers choose to commit highway robbery on its customer base?

UMD was a great idea but it lacked writing ability; basically making it pointless to all those who wanted to use their PSP as also a music device but because of the price of flash, makes it completely uneconomical. If they made UMD writable or atleast being able to hook up the PSP to a computer and use the built in UMD as a storage medium it would have taken off.

I've had a look at this VMedia, and it looks like another great idea but what are the chances that these devices won't come with writing capabilities and when they do the devices will be thousands of dollars (and Sony executives sitting around going, "why won't anyone buy blue ray?! I though everyone was on $120,000!?"). Another idea killed by the very company who are promoting it.

Edited 2009-05-19 03:49 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Oh Wow!
by Phloptical on Tue 19th May 2009 04:00 UTC
Phloptical
Member since:
2006-10-10

Another proprietary Sony format that will go nowhere. Wherever do they find the time to engineer crap that no one will buy? Maybe they should work on getting the PS3 some titles, and driving the price down.

Reply Score: 1