HDD Media Players: A Revolution in Full-length Movie Consumption

September 2nd, 2011 by Red No comments »

In recent years, the selection of media available through the internet has grown dramatically in size and variety. As data transport rates increase with the years and the bandwidth capabilities of networks around the world are upgraded, it’s likely that we will see this trend continue. It’s hard to doubt the fact that, if you’re looking to watch a movie, listen to some music, or browse through pictures, the internet is one of the best places you can go to get them.

Music, video clips, and pictures have been on the internet for quite a long while now, but full-length movies have only recently really started to make their presence felt on the World Wide Web. With the birth of sites like Netflix that offer unlimited movies streamed off the internet or Blockbuster.com and CinemaNow.com that give you the option to purchase movie downloads that you can keep, and with the proliferation of movies both legally and not-so-legally through torrents, the internet has become one of the best places to go find the movies you want to see.

Convenience is the word behind why viewers are turning to the internet for movies, despite their availability on DVD or Blu-Ray. Not only is it simply easier to just store hundreds of movies in an external hard drive and be able to take them around with you to watch at, say, a friend’s house, it also relieves the clutter and lack of storage space that is a problem with optical or magnetic tape media. But downloaded movies also go an important step further, both optical and magnetic tape media are prone to damage that can cause skips and errors when watching movies or keep the movies from playing properly at all, but movies stored on a hard drive are capable of lasting longer while still maintaining the same quality they had the day they were bought and downloaded.

But convenience can actually become an issue for some when trying to watch movies from an external hard drive or memory card source on a television. Being able to watch the movies on their computers doesn’t appeal to all viewers, especially if their televisions produce better HD picture on a larger screen and they also have great surround sound being produced by a set of great speakers to complete the experience.

To address this problem, a new generation of media players have evolved that allow users to access and play movies directly from an external hard drive or memory card. HDD media players come in all forms and sizes, with different capabilities that serve different purposes.

In the most basic sense, an HDD media player is a device with hardware and software for playing audio and video files from a hard drive through a home entertainment system. Some HDD media players simply combine a hard drive enclosure with the audio and video hardware and software, and can come either with a hard drive installed already or simply as an empty shell, giving users the choice of what hard drive they want to install. There are also smaller HDD media players that do not have their own hard drive enclosure, but instead, have either one or two USB ports that can be used to plug in an external hard drive and/or some sort of memory card slot. Some of these simpler HDD media players that do not have their own hard drive enclosures are small enough to be portable – thus allowing users to bring their external hard drive and HDD media player with them, and watch their movies anywhere they can plug their device in, for example, in their employee lounge or at a friend’s house.

As far as HDD media player capabilities are concerned, the range is quite stunning. Some HDD media players come with networking capabilities, allowing users to access media via file sharing networks from the hard drive of a networked computer. Other HDD media players are able to do this via Wi-Fi as well. Some HDD media players also have the capability to access streaming media from the internet and might also have torrent downloading capabilities. And there are also HDD media players that have the ability to digitally record media from an external source. In this respect, the possibilities for HDD media players are endless.

While the technology behind HDD media players is still young, it is very likely that we will see their popularity increase in the future. At the moment, China is taking the lead in HDD media players, and the majority of developers and manufacturers are based there. Because of this, HDD media players tend to be quite inexpensive, especially if they are purchased through online wholesalers, making them a great investment for any home theater setup.

Steve Jobs Leaving CEO Position in Apple

September 1st, 2011 by Red No comments »

Steve Jobs, who served for 14 years as the iconic Apple CEO, handed in his resignation of the position on August 24, 2011. In a surprise announcement last week, Jobs said in a letter to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

 “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

“I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.”

Shortly after, Apple’s Board of Directors accepted and made immediately effective Jobs’ resignation, appointed him as a director, and elected him as Chairman of the Board. Taking Jobs’ recommendation, the Apple Board of Directors also named the company’s COO, Tim Cook, as the new CEO.

Jobs’ resignation didn’t come as a surprise, however. A survivor of pancreatic cancer, Jobs has been on a medical leave since January 17; although neither Apple nor Jobs have yet disclosed the details of his condition. Several analysts had already predicted that Jobs would step down in 2011 after he filed his most recent medical leave, his second one in two years; and that Tim Cook would become Apple’s next CEO.

While Apple and Jobs remain confident that Cook will be able to successfully fill in the void left by Jobs in much the same capacity, several analysts have expressed their views that Jobs’ resignation marks the end of an era for Apple. Jobs most recent tenure at Apple was marked not only by a return to profitability after the company posted multi-billion dollar losses a few years prior, but also by the successful reinvention and restructuring of its product line. Because of this, Jobs has developed a cult following amongst consumers and Apple employees alike who cling to his every word and are the first to defend the visionary CEO’s ideas whenever they receive negative criticism.

Jobs return to Apple brought about a collaboration with Microsoft to release Microsoft Office on the Mac and an ease in competition between the two computing giants. Apple has also collaborated with Intel to develop hardware for their Macs. It also brought about the development of successful products such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Jobs is also credited as being the mastermind behind the success of the iOS, which included setting limitations for the types of applications it can run – most notably the controversial exclusion of Adobe Flash Player.

Tim Cook, who was brought on board by Jobs as the Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations in 1998, has been with Apple for 13 years. He was promoted to COO in January 2007. Cook has also served as CEO during 3 of Jobs’ absences – for two months in 2004, while Jobs was recovering from pancreatic cancer; for several months in 2009, when Jobs took a leave of absence for a liver transplant; and since the beginning of Jobs’ medical leave this year.

Cook has been charged with continuing Jobs’ vision of making Apple computers as easy-to-use and ubiquitous as televisions, food processors, and radios. While Cook has built a reputation of being exceptionally skilled operationally, it still remains to be seen if he can match the Jobs’ visionary perfectionism.

Following Jobs’ resignation, Apple shares experienced a 7% slump, but market analysts and long-time Apple observers agree that, at least in the next few quarters, the company will still be able to stick to its fabled product-launch roadmap and maintain its top-notched image with consumers. But few can tell what will happen when Jobs’ vision expires and when Cook will have to steer the company according to his own vision for it – for Apple the saying is true, only time will tell.