Understanding online video
By now, you're probably aware of the fact that there are dozens of online music stores where you can purchase digital music to play on your computer or your MP3 player. We're now in the middle of a similar explosion in video, with a new crop of online video stores lining up to hawk their video wares--movies, TV shows, music videos, and more--over the Internet and beyond, into your portable devices. If you thought Netflix was convenient, you haven't seen anything yet.
The faster broadband connections that more of us are using these
days are a crucial part of this movement, since a fat pipe is a must
for online video. Another part of the trend is the availability of
video content apart from feature-length films and TV shows, including
all sorts of original, low-budget stuff you never would have been able
to see before Internet distribution made it possible.
We've been watching video on our computers for years (think news and X-rated clips or, more realistically, video content acquired via P2P), but the industry is beginning to mature with reasonable à la carte and subscription-based offerings. And video is beginning to seep out of computers and into portable devices. It's easy to watch video on your computer, but it's not terribly convenient. For many people, spending a few dollars to load TV shows on to the same portable they carry every day is more attractive than downloading a movie they can play on their computer for 24 hours.
Since there's no video counterpart to the headphones used with MP3 players (except for those unwieldy, expensive virtual reality-type goggles) and due to the fact that portable devices must be, well, portable, consumers have to settle for viewing video on relatively small screens. Fortunately, when you're at home, the best PVPs (portable video players) come with docking stations for connecting to a television of any size and even to remote controls. The gear's here. Now, all you need is a good source for downloadable video, and you're ready to rumble. Check out our list of top PVPs, as well as MP3 players that can play video, including the Apple iPod, the Cowon iAudio X5, the Creative Zen Vision:M, the Toshiba Gigabeat S, and the iRiver Clix.