Wednesday, February 15, 2006

UMD Movie

I have been using my PSP for watching movies/TV shows far more than gaming recently. I actually find it rather good for this, sure the memory is a little limiting (I get about 2 and a half hours of video on my 512 stick, just enough for 3 "hour long" TV shows) but the screen really is amazing and I love the fact it saves my position in the video when it gets switched off. This feature in particular I think it vital in a portable movie player as I like to get off the tube/bus at the right station rather than when my show ends 10 minutes later.
For Valentines day I received my first UMD movie, Robots, and I am surprised to find the format growing on me. I have always been skeptical of the UMD movie idea for all the normal reasons, namely cost, interoperability and lack of features. Now I had a change to actually watch one I am changing my position. The video and audio quality were both flawless, at least as good as what is offered on my (admittedly not particularly special) TV. Sure there are no extras but looking at my DVD collection I can safely safe I haven’t watched the extra features on the vast majority of them as for the most part they tend to be similar, bland, behind the scenes/making of features, and time consuming audio commentaries. This is great on your favorite movie or when done by a favorite director/writer/actor but for most movies I own I’m simply not that interested. Something like Robots is the perfect example of this, enjoyable enough movie and probably worth a re-watch somewhere down the line but not something I care enough about to warrant listening to an hour and a half of commentary on or watching yet another "this is how we create a 3D animated scene" feature. So with the extra issue out of the way the only other issue with UMD is the cost, why pay more for the limited UMD format when I can just get the DVD and convert the video to play on my PSP if I want too. Sony seem to have woken up to this and pricing seems to be becoming more reasonable, with a number of titles available at under £8 (about US$13) in high street stores and even better details available if you are willing to hunt around. This is roughly the same price as catalogue DVDs. New release UMDs still seem to be unreasonably expensive but if I want a movie at release its probably something I am interested in seeing special features/commentaries for too so that’s not really as issue for me.
The one big trade off that still exists is that only one person can watch a UMD movie so its not something I would consider for movies my girlfriend would like to watch but
for things she won’t watch/enjoy (primarily horror/thriller flicks and some science fiction) it actually makes a lot of sense for me to look at the UMD option. There is something I never through I would say.

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