Online video has a future – of sorts

The San Jose Mercury News publishes its list of the Top 10 tech trends for 2006 – and starts with video, which it says ‘will come to the big screen in your living room and to the small screen on your cell phone’. I was always a little cynical about video, after a decade of watching postage-stamp sized pictures. But two things recently have completely changed my mind. I switched broadband provider, upgrading from a 300K connection to 2MB. And I bought myself a 28″ widescreen LCD monitor, at a remarkably cheap price which I suspect Dell are probably regretting.
The bandwidth boost certainly helps: although most online video is still being encoded for lower bandwidths, probably assuming a connection of 512K. (By my own non-scientific assessment, video optimised for a 1MB line passes the ‘good enough’ test. Anything more is a bonus.)
More important, I find, is the large screen size. When I click to view some online video, I invariably find myself maximising the video player to full screen, and pushing my chair to the back of the room. I guess I’ve been too deeply conditioned by thirty-plus years of watching TV from a distance.
I’m still not sure about small-screen video though. My phone at the moment is the HTC Universal, which has an excellent screen with a good VGA resolution, and very good sound quality. Watching video on it is perfectly possible, and I have a few video files stored on the 512MB SD card it came with, but I really don’t find myself watching them. The only good time is when you’re sat on a train; but even then, I’m always a bit self-conscious.

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