lost and found1

These days, there is much confusion about the changing face of TV. You can now buy DVDs of virtually any show ever made.

These days, there is much confusion about the changing face of TV.

You can now buy DVDs of virtually any show ever made.

That’s OK for the old stuff — heck, anybody who wants old episodes of Welcome Back Kotter are welcome to ‘em — but it’s the new stuff most people want.

And, if you miss it, it’s hard to find.

The networks are experimenting, slowly, with different home-delivery models.

In some places, with the right technology, you can download the shows from the ‘net to watch on a portable player, on a cellphone or on your old-fashioned set.

But what technology do you use? Everything is in flux.

Do you buy a computer, an iPod, a set-top box or a simple hard drive connected to a wireless network.

And how is this more foolproof than the old VCR?

It’s not. And, with all the technology at our disposal, this is ridiculous.

It’s time for common standards and some simple fix. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Take the new DVD formats that are about to roll out.

The first, HD DVD, is promoted by Toshiba, Sanyo, NEC, Microsoft, HP and Intel.

The second, Blu-ray, is championed by Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson.

Two visions, two technologies, two huge consortiums and no compatibility.

It’s shaping up to be another VHS/Beta dustup, with two rival formats battling it out in the marketplace. This will stall the implementation of both formats, as most consumers will wait to see which one gains the upper hand.

Sigh! More delays.

Suffice to say, the state of the whole video entertainment industry is very fluid.

And that’s frustrating because folks just want to watch their shows.

The medium is in the midst of a renaissance right now.

There are many good shows on the tube. Too many, in fact, to watch.

And the sophisticated and ever-deepening storylines suck you in quicker and better than ever before.

And that’s why people need a safety net, a foolproof way to watch their favourite show on their own schedule.

While television has improved, so has the pace of life.

It’s tricky remembering to tape the latest episode of 24 on the old VCR — What channel? What time? Has the clock been reset after that latest power fluctuation?— in the midst of making dinner before dashing the kids off to soccer, hockey or swimming lessons.

It’s stressful just thinking about it.

And what happens if there’s operator error?

How do you recapture that integral missing hour?

How do you explain the goof up to your partner?

Nope, better to have a safety net. A $2 download, available the next morning, or something.

But what?

The entertainment industry is nervous about Bit Torrent, that clever shareware network, but people are using it because, otherwise, there’s nowhere else to get caught up on the exploits chronicled on Lost, 24 or Boston Legal.

They believe people want to pirate the stuff.

Not so. They just lack a legitimate option to recover Tuesday night’s show.

The faster a legitimate safety net is established, the better it will be for industry and busy suburbanites anxious about securing their video fix. (RM)