I’ve been setting up my LifeDrive. My first tests were to torment the battery by seeing how long it could play video. (My results are in a separate LifeDrive post.)
What I discovered doing this is that YouTube might be better than P2P!
I ripped it using Download Helper. Then I converted the Flash video (.FLV) to a DiVXed AVI file without changing the 240×320 size. Playing it back on the LifeDrive using TCPMP in landscape (where the program will resize it to fill the screen without messing with the aspect ratio), I discovered something very surprising: It was Good Enough!
P2P is known for transferring massive AVI files. Even when compressed using DiVX or XViD codecs, they are still large because seeders are ripping them from HDTV signals or widescreen DVD. (And now HD-DVD too!)
Well, an episode of Doctor Who is usually around 350MB and it can take, depending on the episode’s age, weeks to download.
And, for a LifeDrive, that’s just overkill! I don’t need HDTV-quality. That’s what I’d eventually buy the HD-DVD or BluRay DVD boxed set of the series to get.
So, I’m beginning to think that, if I can find reliable sources for Doctor Who episodes on YouTube, I’ll just give up on the P2Ping of them. Grabbing them from YouTube is just so much faster and to watch them on a LifeDrive is really Good Enough.
I’m also beginning to suspect this has been the case with other people too. Most people are not doing P2P to rob creators. They are doing it for free previews with an eye towards legal purchasing (when that’s possible; Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet has yet to be legally available on DVD here in the US, dammit!). I’ve noticed a strange dropoff in the P2P population in the past few months. Far fewer files are available and it seems the number of people who are harboring such files has dropped by at least two thirds. I think YouTube is the reason for this.
If the studios — movies and TV — were smart, they’d start cutting deals with YouTube. YouTube’s 240×320 resolution is not a threat to either TV or DVD sales. The resolution is Good Enough to be a great sales tool to entice people to stay connected to their favorite TV series and to help them decide which DVDs they should purchase.
Are you listening, Viacom?
A Writers Guild strike is coming. If it happens (and it will if you Suits don’t give the writers everydamnedthing you’ve cheated them out of since the 1980s!), traffic on YouTube will really blast off. And that could undermine both TV and movies in way the Suits would rather not have happen. (What, you think Google wouldn’t jump at the chance to steal your audiences by offering a higher-resolution YouTube? I think they will.)
For me, I think my days of P2P are coming to an end…