Life After DVD: As the death knell sounds for the disk, what are our alternatives?

Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, admitted in January that the company expects DVD subscribers to decline every quarter, “forever”. When the head of America’s biggest DVD rental company  – the US equivalent of LoveFilm – makes this kind of statement, that says a lot about the state of the DVD market.

Experts have forecast the fall of the DVD for the past few years and, as digital options increase, we take a look at a few of the alternatives.

Apple-TV

Apple TV

Billed as “A lot of entertainment. In a very little box”, Apple TV offers movies, news, music and the ability to share photos and documents on your computer through your TV. Netflix subscribers can access the company’s online movie streaming service and you can use an iPhone or iPod as a remote control. The box costs £99 upfront and movie rentals start at £2.49. The newly updated version now streams in 1080p.

iTunes Rentals

iTunes rentals provide a digital alternative to traditional video rental shops – without the late fees. Rented movies stay in your iTunes library for 30 days and, once you start watching, you have 48 hours to finish the film before it expires. Download rented movies onto an Apple device to watch away from home and, if 30 days isn’t enough, you can also purchase most movies to keep within your iTunes account indefinitely.

Lovefilm and Netflix

Lovefilm has been established for a few years as the UK’s leading online entertainment rental company. As well as sending DVDs by post, Lovefilm users can stream movies online. Netflix also recently launched their streaming service in the UK, providing some healthy competition in the paid streaming market. For a monthly fee, both services allow you to stream films for free, or pay a small amount to watch new releases.

New Kids on the Block

This year’s CES revealed a few new players that are enhancing the digital movie market. Syncbak, currently on limited release, is a system that enables you to stream content from the internet to smart TVs, mobiles, tablets and more. Meanwhile, the Roku streaming stick plugs in to your television, transforming your set into a smart TV and enabling you to stream content from your computer to the big screen.

With the offerings at this year’s CES, it looks like the DVD’s demise might not be long coming. Trends suggest our TV and movie watching is going mobile. With newer technology and formats undercutting DVDs in price and surpassing them in convenience, we can only hope it will be a quick and painless end, rather than a protracted and drawn-out struggle.

Blu-ray gets the blue sky treatment from Sony

Man, those wizards at Sony know a thing or two about audio and visual heaven. Not content with just creating achingly glorious works of what could be termed as electronic modern art (their sleek black lines and slim bodies transforming our living rooms into cutting edge galleries) but they deliver the goods each time too.

Sony-BDV

The wrappers are off Sony’s new affordable 3D ready Blu-ray 2.1 home entertainment range and once again, the format has been redefined.

Sony’s new 2.1 Blu-ray HD systems, the BDV-EF200, BDV-L600 and the flagship BDP-S780 are jammed full of bells, whistles and many other various forms of musicality. The built in Bravia Internet video platform lets you stream YouTube videos, watch BBC iPlayer, rent movies via Lovefilms and watch Sky News live through the dedicated TV application. Two HDMI ports provide simple connectivity to other HD devices such as set top boxes and consoles, whilst the built in Apple dock provides easy access to your music and video files and control through iPod touch or smart phones.

They might be just 2.1 home cinema systems albeit blu-ray, but the built in S-Force PRO 3D virtual surround sound audio will deliver plenty of power without any ugly wires cluttering up your room and Sony’s IP noise reduction technology will provide sharp images even from internet content.

Sony’s flagship player the BDP-S780 has even more under the bonnet with 2D-3D up-conversion and a pro version of its IP noise reduction technology together with super Bit Mapping to make those images razor sharp. It’s Skype enabled, so get those free calls in, and the built in wi fi will let you control the unit from your smart phone using Sony’s media remote app.

All three players offer improved load and start up times, something Sony already leads the market in, and consider they all come in under £250, you get a lot of blu-ray bang for your buck.