I remember when we got our first video recorder.
It was a long, long time ago, but even then VCRs had been around for a while. Some years before that, my mate Ian got a Philips video and I remember going round to his place to watch something he'd taped. Whatever it was, I seem to remember I wasn't very impressed.
But when my parents finally got one it revolutionised my life, and then when I left home and could afford one myself, things took off in a serious way. All of a sudden I was watching more and more rubbish TV, simply because I could record it. My stock of things recorded off the telly grew and before I knew it I was looking for some sort of storage for all these badly labelled tapes. The irritating irony is that I recorded a lot of the stuff because it looked good and I assumed I'd want to watch again, but I've not yet watched them through the first time.
I had a copy of the Blues Brothers on tape and when I finally got around to watching it I realised that it had been recorded something like six years earlier - bizarre. I've only just recently started buying pre-recorded videos, mainly because the studios are putting more widescreen versions of their films out and this is how I prefer to watch them.
So now I find myself watching widescreen videos of films I couldn't be bothered to go to the cinema to see, simply because they are widescreen, and remembering why I didn't bother going to see them at the cinema (they were, and still are, rubbish).
And now things have just got worse. I have been playing with the Dell Insperon 7000 - a nice bit of kit, if you don't mind me saying so. It's got an enormous screen and is not badly designed, but the main hook for me is its 'TV out' socket.
This is simply a composite video signal which you can plug into your TV, enabling you to display what is on the PC's screen on your TV screen. On its own, this isn't much fun - playing Freecell on your telly isn't really much fun at all. However, the Dell machine is equipped with a DVD drive and software decoder which means you can watch DVD movies by simply plugging the notebook into the TV.
Now I've found myself borrowing DVD movies. Thus it was that I've just sat through the Avengers and the remake of Hitchcock's A Perfect Murder. And boy, were they pants.
Then a terrible truth dawned on me. No matter how good the hardware, it is the software that makes it viable - are you listening, software industry? No matter how stunning it is that you can watch a DVD movie by plugging your notebook into your TV and hitting Run, the experience is totally dependant on the quality of the film.
This means just one thing: Hollywood needs to get its finger out if we are going to find a really good use for DVD players built into notebook PCs.
In the mean time, can anyone lend me some Woody Allen or Gina Davis DVD movies?
Chris Long is a freelance IT journalist.
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