Late adopter

In spite of mockery from my peers, I still use a VCR to record TV programmes and movies. This is partly due to laziness and partly due to practical considerations. I already have a video recorder, it works perfectly well, and the quality is acceptable (yes, it could be better, but I don’t really need to be able to see every skin pore on the actor’s face in order to appreciate a good piece of drama).

The move to digital is probably imminent – the analogue signal will be switched off soon, meaning we’ll move to a digital cable service, and apparently you can’t record digital TV onto video tape (so the cable company tells me, and my Dad had the same problem with Freeview in the UK) so I guess at that point we’ll buy a hard disk recording device thingy. And then probably wonder how we ever managed without it. Still, I’ll have to decide what to do with my dozens of tapes of movies, TV shows and animation. I guess stuff that isn’t available in any other format (things I made myself, for example) could be converted to DVD.

In this case the decision is kind of made for me as the analogue option simply won’t exist soon. In other cases I have to evaluate whether the benefits of a new system outweigh the hassles of, for example, transferring all my old stuff onto the new format. For example, I don’t have any plans to convert all my CDs into digital files to load onto an MP3 player. CDs, according to the experts, still give better, more faithful sound reproduction than MP3 files, and the only benefits I can see to the iPod and its ilk is that you can carry a lot of music around with you all the time, which frankly doesn’t appeal. I can play CDs on my stereo at home, in the car, or, at a push, on my old Sony Discman, and that’s quite enough music player options for me. And yes, I still have a lot of cassette tapes too. And a few LPs.

The one format change I recently enthusiastically embraced is digital cinema projection. One chain of cinemas in Brussels shows about half of their films this way, and it’s far superior: no jumps, scratches or colour cast issues when reels change, for example, and this chain plans for all its screens to be digital soon. In fact if I have a choice of venue to see a particular film I’ll often choose the digital screen even if it’s farther away than another cinema.

So, you see, I’m not a complete Luddite.

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5 thoughts on “Late adopter

  1. Erik R. July 16, 2009 / 4:53 pm

    [mocking-gesture!]

    The MP3 quality issue is a little silly. Mathematically it can be shown that there is quality loss, but even an expert would need a seriously expensive set of speakers or headphones to notice it for reasonable high bitrates. But it’s just for such audio-snobs that lossless compression was created, where it can be shown mathematically that no bits have been compromised from the digital CD audio to the compressed lossless audio file. These files are several times considerably larger than MP3 files and really not worth the effort.

    Oh, and… [mocking-gesture!]

    Like

    • simonlitton July 17, 2009 / 8:12 am

      Fine, so MP3s are indistinguishable from CDs in terms of sound quality.
      There’s still no compelling reason for me to convert from one format to the other.

      Like

      • Erik R. July 17, 2009 / 8:22 am

        Backup?

        You’ve never had a CD get damaged to the point that it was unplayable?

        The ability to sample and buy music online and play it instantly is also compelling.

        But you’re free to do your laundry on a washboard if you want to.

        Like

  2. simonlitton July 17, 2009 / 8:42 am

    No, my CDs don’t get damaged. I treat them very carefully. I research, listen to and buy online.
    Backup? Why? Do you backup your books?

    Like

  3. J July 17, 2009 / 4:56 pm

    We have digital cable, and I tape onto my VCR all of the time. Don’t panic.

    Like

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