On the masthead of our blog at "Life in the Great Midwest" it used to read "We Shill for Nobody". And that is still true. But if we find something that may be interesting to others we like to share it.
Recently I bought a Sony Blu-Ray Disc Player BDP-BX58. This replaces my existing Samsung DVD player (which worked fine). I bought it, after rebate, for about $100 at Costco.
I bought it to try out the internet through my television. It also allows you to stream other media (pictures from your PC, songs from your PC, etc...) through your TV which I wasn't as interested in.
Although it is a DVD player, I only put a DVD in to make sure it worked and all the wires, sound, etc... were working correctly through my surround sound system. I remember reading an article about a focus group that tested a smart phone with a bunch of high school students - the researcher said in all the time he watched them text, stream, and run apps, he never saw them use the smart phone to MAKE A PHONE CALL. Like them, I was basically using this DVD player as a gateway to the internet not as a DVD playing device.
I went to You Tube and immediately started having fun. Recently I was at a friends' condo and we were discussing music (for hours, since I know a lot of obscure stuff, but he dwarfs my knowledge on the topic). It was cool to just type in a band like "Mastodon" and all their videos come up, including all their appearances on late night shows like Letterman. Obviously there is a lot of stuff on You Tube and it is fun to watch it through your TV.
There is an app in the Apple Store for your iPhone or iPad that allows you to control the Sony DVD devices. I loaded it up and went through a process to "register" the device (you have to load the app, and then have the DVD player on in a setup area, and follow the instructions to connect), and then you are able to TYPE in your iPhone to control the DVD player. This is very important because if you are searching on You Tube, for example, and have to hunt and peck through the woeful number / letter one at a time system, you will soon throw the remote away in disgust. Once you turn on the DVD player you can control the whole process through your iPhone it completely enables the You Tube search experience, at a minimum.
A lot of people use Netflix through the TV, streaming, but I have plenty of movies queued up through Direct TV that I am not watching already so I am not that interested. But for many people streaming Netflix (and not having cable or satellite at all) would be a great model. How good Netflix is as far as quality for streaming depends on your internet connection... since my connection is so-so it likely would be lousy.
I also tried Hulu. There is a lot of content there and it was $7.99/month. It is the same content that I already have on Direct TV so I didn't buy the service but, along with Netflix and a hi-def antenna for sports, you'd be doing pretty well.
You can also browse the internet through the DVD player. This wasn't very good. Even a simple blog like LITGM comes through poorly; the player has trouble with more complex pages and navigation is awful. This one is clearly first generation so there is a ways to go until browsing web pages through this device would be remotely satisfactory.
What does this mean for Sony? I am astounded that you can buy a clearly physical device, that comes in a box, with an HDMI cable (those things used to be $50 by themselves), a remote, along with software and the ability to download a controller through the app store (for free)... for $100? It means bad things for them, clearly. My old Samsung DVD player, although perfectly useful, is basically getting thrown out because if this new device (with Blu-Ray) is worth $100, then that means my Samsung is worth about 2 cents.
The rise of things that don't require manufacturing, don't require packaging, through the internet, are amazing. On the other hand, Apple clearly does do manufacturing, but they have a remarkably small number of products when compared to the bewildering array of code numbers and variants produced by Sony. I remember an article somewhere on the internet where Steve Jobs recommended that one of the hardware manufacturers drastically reduce their number of products; for Apple you can count the number of products between iPads, iPods, and Macs, while you'd need to quit your day job to count up everything that Sony offers.
This Blu-Ray device, warts and all (especially w/internet browsing, as opposed to apps like You Tube), is amazing. What isn't amazing for Sony is I can't see how they can profit when it costs $100 at retail. Hardware is clearly getting hammered by software right now.
Cross posted at Chicago Boyz