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Time Warner Cable tries metering Internet use

Old 06-02-08, 09:24 PM
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Time Warner Cable tries metering Internet use

NEW YORK (AP) -- You're used to paying extra if you use up your cell phone minutes, but will you be willing to pay extra if your home computer goes over its Internet allowance?

Time Warner Cable Inc. customers -- and, later, others -- may have to, if the company's test of metered Internet access is successful.

On Thursday, new Time Warner Cable Internet subscribers in Beaumont, Texas, will have monthly allowances for the amount of data they upload and download. Those who go over will be charged $1 per gigabyte, a Time Warner Cable executive told the Associated Press.

Metered billing is an attempt to deal fairly with Internet usage, which is very uneven among Time Warner Cable's subscribers, said Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president of advanced technology.

Just 5 percent of the company's subscribers take up half of the capacity on local cable lines, Leddy said. Other cable Internet service providers report a similar distribution.

"We think it's the fairest way to finance the needed investment in the infrastructure," Leddy said.

Metered usage is common overseas, and other U.S. cable providers are looking at ways to rein in heavy users. Most have download caps, but some keep the caps secret so as not to alarm the majority of users, who come nowhere close to the limits. Time Warner Cable appears to be the first major ISP to charge for going over the limit: Other companies warn, then suspend, those who go over.

Phone companies are less concerned about congestion and are unlikely to impose metered usage on DSL customers, because their networks are structured differently.

Time Warner Cable had said in January that it was planning to conduct the trial in Beaumont, but did not give any details. On Monday, Leddy said its tiers will range from $29.95 a month for relatively slow service at 768 kilobits per second and a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for fast downloads at 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap. Those prices cover the Internet portion of subscription bundles that include video or phone services. Both downloads and uploads will count toward the monthly cap.

A possible stumbling block for Time Warner Cable is that customers have had little reason so far to pay attention to how much they download from the Internet, or know much traffic makes up a gigabyte. That uncertainty could scare off new subscribers.

Those who mainly do Web surfing or e-mail have little reason to pay attention to the traffic caps: a gigabyte is about 3,000 Web pages, or 15,000 e-mails without attachments. But those who download movies or TV shows will want to pay attention. A standard-definition movie can take up 1.5 gigabytes, and a high-definition movie can be 6 to 8 gigabytes.

Time Warner Cable subscribers will be able to check out their data consumption on a "gas gauge" on the company's Web page.

The company won't apply the gigabyte surcharges for the first two months. It has 90,000 customers in the trial area, but only new subscribers will be part of the trial.

Billing by the hour was common for dial-up service in the U.S. until AOL introduced an unlimited-usage plan in 1996. Flat-rate, unlimited-usage plans have been credited with encouraging consumer Internet use by making billing easy to understand.

"The metered Internet has been tried and tested and rejected by the consumers overwhelmingly since the days of AOL," information-technology consultant George Ou told the Federal Communications Commission at a hearing on ISP practices in April.

Metered billing could also put a crimp in the plans of services like Apple Inc.'s iTunes that use the Internet to deliver video. DVD-by-mail pioneer Netflix Inc. just launched a TV set-top box that receives an unlimited stream of Internet video for as little as $8.99 per month.

Comcast Corp., the country's largest cable company, has suggested that it may cap usage at 250 gigabytes per month. Bend Cable Communications in Bend, Ore., used to have multitier bandwidth allowances, like the ones Time Warner Cable will test, but it abandoned them in favor of an across-the-board 100-gigabyte cap. Bend charges $1.50 per extra gigabyte consumed in a month.












I wonder if this is going to be the future.
Old 06-02-08, 10:33 PM
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If they bring this to Rochester I will cancel ASAP.
Old 06-02-08, 10:49 PM
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5 GB seems REALLY low for a month.

I could kill that watching a few movies on Netflix in a couple days.
Old 06-02-08, 11:14 PM
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Well, that is for the low speed, which seems to be aimed at those who watch no online video at all except for the occasional YouTube video, and of course those who don't download torrents or files from newsgroups. That's who they're really going after - those who always have torrents going (this is where uploads are important, as many have their computers seeding constantly). The 40GB cap seems reasonable for those who watch legal content, within limits.

Then again, I am glad I have DSL so I don't have to be concerned about this - yet.
Old 06-02-08, 11:21 PM
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The best way for people to combat this is to move to another company that doesn't have such idiotic limits on usage. Unfortunately, a lot of markets seem to only have one provider.
Old 06-03-08, 06:41 AM
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Hope this doesnt cach on. My monthly average for DL has to be over 100gb (damn newsgroups).
Old 06-03-08, 07:11 AM
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I keep reading how movie downloads (Unbox, Netflix, etc) will be the "waive of the future" and not Blu-Ray. Stuff like this will kill that waive well before it really can take off.


I have TWC and was thinking about that Netflix box, especially if they add HD content. Announcements like this sour that idea.
Old 06-03-08, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Chew
I keep reading how movie downloads (Unbox, Netflix, etc) will be the "waive of the future" and not Blu-Ray. Stuff like this will kill that waive well before it really can take off.


I have TWC and was thinking about that Netflix box, especially if they add HD content. Announcements like this sour that idea.

don't believe the hype

physical media will always win over online because the amount of data it carries increases a lot faster than broadband speeds
Old 06-03-08, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
don't believe the hype

physical media will always win over online because the amount of data it carries increases a lot faster than broadband speeds
That's certainly been true for the music industry!
Old 06-03-08, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
physical media will always win over online because the amount of data it carries increases a lot faster than broadband speeds
I'm not sure what "the amount of data it carries" actually means, but if you're referring to bitrate, that's not so. Comcast is planning on providing a 100Mbit/s internet connection later this year, which is about double the maximum bitrate of Blu-Ray:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2246933,00.asp
http://www.diffen.com/difference/Blu-ray_vs_Hd_Dvd

Comcast also offers HD on demand via its cable video service, and is planning to expand that it 3,000 titles by 2009.

As for the caps:

For one, I don't think TWC is too concerned about killing off potential Netflix online and iTunes customers, since they are competition in a way. However, competition from other internet suppliers and customer feedback are likely to kill this idea of caps. It doesn't matter if 95% of customers use less than the capped amount, people like the idea of unlimited usage.

Last edited by Jay G.; 06-03-08 at 09:15 AM.
Old 06-03-08, 09:12 AM
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CD's still outsell Itunes and other internet songs

the internet connection may be faster than blu-ray, but does anyone actually stream HD content at blu-ray speed? i have Time Warner Cable for TV and the HD is not flawless.

physical media will never die because you can take it anywhere like on an airplane, you can borrow and lend with friends, it's still cheaper to have 100 blu-ray or DVD movies on your shelf than on your PC and it's easier to use a regular DVD player with a big screen TV or home theater set up instead of watching only on your PC

it will take Comcast years to deploy this tech to 50% of it's customers. meanwhile the next HD DVD media and TV tech will already be out. Blu-Ray was demonstrated in the lab back in the late 1990's. they already have technology in the lab that is a lot better than Blu-Ray and will be out in the next 3-5 years

Last edited by al_bundy; 06-03-08 at 09:22 AM.
Old 06-03-08, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
CD's still outsell Itunes and other internet songs
True, but the trend is obvious. CD sales decline every year.
Old 06-03-08, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
CD's still outsell Itunes and other internet songs
For now, although CDs have been in a 7-year decline, while digital downloads have consistently been increasing.
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/...TQyNDE1Wj.html

the internet connection may be faster than blu-ray, but does anyone actually stream HD content at blu-ray speed?
Right now, probably not. However, most BDs don't stream at the maximum bitrate either. Also, I believe the bottleneck in bandwidth is primarily on the downloader's side. Once these higher speed home connections come into service, we'll probably see much faster connections to online video providers.

I have Time Warner Cable for TV and the HD is not flawless.
HD digital cable is MPEG2 encoded, and is currently at a lower bitrate than an average BD. However, TWC offers HD for free to digital cable subscribers, so there's no real downside to it for the casual viewer.

physical media will never die because you can take it anywhere like on an airplane, you can borrow and lend with friends
Nobody claimed that physical media will "die." Vinyl still isn't technically "dead."

However, in regards to portability, iTunes videos are able to be transferred to an iPod and played virtually anywhere. Failing that, a lot of people use laptops on planes.

Loaning and borrowing is certainly not easy with digital downloads currently. However, it could be overcome with certain limitations; say, authorizing a copy on your friend's PC subsequently de-authorizes your copy until your friend watches and deletes his copy (or possibly purchases his own license).

In addition, with services like Netflix's, loaning wouldn't be necessary, since a friend with a Netflix account would have access to the same films you do, so you'd simply share recommendations and links instead of actual physical media.

it's still cheaper to have 100 blu-ray or DVD movies on your shelf than on your PC
Stating the current situation is hardly a convincing argument for it "never" changing. Some services, like the Xbox video service, allow free re-downloading of purchased videos, so the local storage only has to be large enough to store what you're immediately interested in viewing. This also allows for increased portability. Imagine having access to all of you video purchases from anywhere that has an internet connection. No need to carry physical media around at all, just your account info.

If owning a physical copy is a "must" however, it's possible that digital download services could in the future offer burning capabilities. This "download to disc" option is already in development for DVD:
http://www.qflix.com/enu/whatisqflix.aspx

..and it's easier to use a regular DVD player with a big screen TV or home theater set up instead of watching only on your PC
Which is why Netflix unveiled a set-top box, as has Apple. Tivo can use Amazon's Unbox. Cable companies are also integrating on-demand services into their boxes. In addition video game systems like Xbox 360 and PS3 are primed for video download content and are typically attached to a TV.
Old 06-03-08, 06:12 PM
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40GB a month and they charge you $55? With all the podcasts and video related stuff I download and stream a month I would exceed this easily every month.

My wife recently started watching many of her shows streaming online and I'm always checking video and downloading stuff. I think I download 3-4 gigs of stuff on just my PS3 alone each week. I would have to cancel immediately if I had Time Warner and they did this nationwide.
Old 06-03-08, 06:41 PM
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I can understand setting some sort of absurdly high bandwidth cap to curb in the heavy 24x7 bittorrent / P2P users. Like a 1000GB or something.

But 5GB? And 40GB? That's crazy talk.

I buy pretty much everything legit, I don't download mp3s (I prefer to rip CDs) - but I'm sure I'd overrun 5GB almost every month. I think just the working from home over VPN I do from home to work combined with normal surfing and XBLive usage would do that.

40GB at the high end isn't really any better. The average XBL demo is 1.3GB.

I'd have to watch the size of word docs and how often I pull them up at home. Craziness.
Old 06-03-08, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
For now, although CDs have been in a 7-year decline, while digital downloads have consistently been increasing.
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/...TQyNDE1Wj.html


Right now, probably not. However, most BDs don't stream at the maximum bitrate either. Also, I believe the bottleneck in bandwidth is primarily on the downloader's side. Once these higher speed home connections come into service, we'll probably see much faster connections to online video providers.


HD digital cable is MPEG2 encoded, and is currently at a lower bitrate than an average BD. However, TWC offers HD for free to digital cable subscribers, so there's no real downside to it for the casual viewer.


Nobody claimed that physical media will "die." Vinyl still isn't technically "dead."

However, in regards to portability, iTunes videos are able to be transferred to an iPod and played virtually anywhere. Failing that, a lot of people use laptops on planes.

Loaning and borrowing is certainly not easy with digital downloads currently. However, it could be overcome with certain limitations; say, authorizing a copy on your friend's PC subsequently de-authorizes your copy until your friend watches and deletes his copy (or possibly purchases his own license).

In addition, with services like Netflix's, loaning wouldn't be necessary, since a friend with a Netflix account would have access to the same films you do, so you'd simply share recommendations and links instead of actual physical media.


Stating the current situation is hardly a convincing argument for it "never" changing. Some services, like the Xbox video service, allow free re-downloading of purchased videos, so the local storage only has to be large enough to store what you're immediately interested in viewing. This also allows for increased portability. Imagine having access to all of you video purchases from anywhere that has an internet connection. No need to carry physical media around at all, just your account info.

If owning a physical copy is a "must" however, it's possible that digital download services could in the future offer burning capabilities. This "download to disc" option is already in development for DVD:
http://www.qflix.com/enu/whatisqflix.aspx


Which is why Netflix unveiled a set-top box, as has Apple. Tivo can use Amazon's Unbox. Cable companies are also integrating on-demand services into their boxes. In addition video game systems like Xbox 360 and PS3 are primed for video download content and are typically attached to a TV.
why would i buy the Apple TV when a Blu-Ray player is about the same price, and PC blu-Ray drives are just over $100? with a real blu-ray player i can rent physical media from netflix and watch whenever and where ever I want. with the Apple TV i'm stuck watching it at home, and the quality is worse. just like the regular ITunes movies.

I still don't get why people buy movies and TV shows from Itunes. almost everyone streams on the internet for free or buy a movie/season DVD

and why would i buy music from Itunes when i can buy a CD for the same price and rip it?

Netflix might make up this complicated loaning system, but the easy way is to get a ripping program off the internet and rip a DVD. or just give your friend the DVD you rented or bought for a little while. and once enough people get the connections to stream HD, a new format will come out. I've read that there is already technology to put around 1TB of data on a CD/DVD sized disc.

Last edited by al_bundy; 06-03-08 at 07:44 PM.
Old 06-03-08, 10:03 PM
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One thing I find is that there's a lot of bloat on the 'net these days.

All of the flash and ads probably double the incoming bandwidth of most web pages. Podcasts and similar things are considerably larger than they need to be. Does a podcast .mp3 really need to be encoded at 192 or 256? People e-mail around digital photographs that people are going to look at for two seconds and delete; is there really any need for them to be 4MB?

I'd hate to see this catch on, and everyone would have to pay for all of the incoming advertising they're constantly bombarded with. Imagine having to not only sit through those annoying "Frontiers" ads, but have to pay for the bandwidth to do so.

I think people will find that those 5GB limits will be hit fairly quickly, even with normal use.
Old 06-03-08, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
I can understand setting some sort of absurdly high bandwidth cap to curb in the heavy 24x7 bittorrent / P2P users. Like a 1000GB or something.

But 5GB? And 40GB? That's crazy talk.
The caps TWC is putting in place are absurdly low. Comcast's proposed cap of 250GB at least seems reasonable, although it remains to be seen if Comcast even bothers with it.
Old 06-03-08, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
why would i buy the Apple TV when a Blu-Ray player is about the same price
The Apple TV starts at $229. Blu-Ray starts at $299. And of course, the best Blu-Ray player currently is the PS3, which is primed for downloaded content. Even Blu-Ray itself sees the value in downloadable content, hence the network connectivity in its 2.0 profile. Also, the Netflix box is around $100, and being bought as quick as they can sell them.

...and PC blu-Ray drives are just over $100
Well, if we're talking about a PC, then downloading typically has the advantage since there's no additional equipment to buy for it to work on a PC.

with a real blu-ray player....
I'm sorry, are there fake Blu-Ray players?

i can rent physical media from netflix and watch whenever and where ever I want.
Really? Can you watch it on your cell phone? Because some cell phones can receive streams from Tivo, and the iPhone can of course play movies from iTunes.

Also, if your physical media is Blu-Ray, your viewing options are even more limited. No portable players for your plane trips. Most people don't have Blu-Ray players yet, so no bringing it over to your friends/relatives' homes.

with the Apple TV i'm stuck watching it at home..
..just like with Blu-Ray. Of course, the movie on that Apple TV can be transferred to an iPod and played there, among many other places. I guess that's why some Blu-Rays come with a "digital copy" of the film that can be transfered to such devices.

...and the quality is worse.
Currently, it is. However, a little over a year after iTunes started distributing videos, Apple doubled the resolution of those videos. iTunes then tripled the video resolution for HD titles. It took physical media over a decade to offer a new disc format in HD.

I still don't get why people buy movies and TV shows from Itunes.
Because it's easy and convenient. Your personal bafflement over Apple's successful business model doesn't really count as an argument.

Netflix might make up this complicated loaning system, but the easy way is to get a ripping program off the internet and rip a DVD.
Right, the "easy" way is to use complicated PC software tools, while the "hard" way is a box you plug into your TV. I know people who'll never go near a ripping program, but will certainly be interested in a set-top box like Tivo that makes downloading simple and convenient.

and once enough people get the connections to stream HD, a new format will come out. I've read that there is already technology to put around 1TB of data on a CD/DVD sized disc.
Talk about new physical media formats at this time is all hypothetical. It took about a decade for a successor to DVD to appear, and we ended up with two of them. Nobody's going to be rushing out a new format any time soon.

Additionally, all a new physical format could provide is additional storage. The FCC isn't going to mandate any increase in resolution any time soon, so 1080 is going to be the highest resolution for consumer electronics for a good while.
Old 06-04-08, 05:47 AM
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I know we had a thread about this Time Warner metering thing before; or at least it was brought up and discussed for some time in a similar thread, but what about online gaming like XBOX live? I mean I played for a couple hours the other day and I wonder how this will impact my "meter rate" if this crap goes through.

If TW does this I'm out.

Last edited by Giantrobo; 06-04-08 at 12:36 PM.
Old 06-04-08, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh-da-man
I think people will find that those 5GB limits will be hit fairly quickly, even with normal use.
My weekly download of the Totally Rad Show video podcast is about 750mb. That alone would be 60% of a monthly "limit".
Old 06-04-08, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
The Apple TV starts at $229. Blu-Ray starts at $299. And of course, the best Blu-Ray player currently is the PS3, which is primed for downloaded content. Even Blu-Ray itself sees the value in downloadable content, hence the network connectivity in its 2.0 profile. Also, the Netflix box is around $100, and being bought as quick as they can sell them.


Well, if we're talking about a PC, then downloading typically has the advantage since there's no additional equipment to buy for it to work on a PC.


I'm sorry, are there fake Blu-Ray players?


Really? Can you watch it on your cell phone? Because some cell phones can receive streams from Tivo, and the iPhone can of course play movies from iTunes.

Also, if your physical media is Blu-Ray, your viewing options are even more limited. No portable players for your plane trips. Most people don't have Blu-Ray players yet, so no bringing it over to your friends/relatives' homes.


..just like with Blu-Ray. Of course, the movie on that Apple TV can be transferred to an iPod and played there, among many other places. I guess that's why some Blu-Rays come with a "digital copy" of the film that can be transfered to such devices.


Currently, it is. However, a little over a year after iTunes started distributing videos, Apple doubled the resolution of those videos. iTunes then tripled the video resolution for HD titles. It took physical media over a decade to offer a new disc format in HD.


Because it's easy and convenient. Your personal bafflement over Apple's successful business model doesn't really count as an argument.


Right, the "easy" way is to use complicated PC software tools, while the "hard" way is a box you plug into your TV. I know people who'll never go near a ripping program, but will certainly be interested in a set-top box like Tivo that makes downloading simple and convenient.


Talk about new physical media formats at this time is all hypothetical. It took about a decade for a successor to DVD to appear, and we ended up with two of them. Nobody's going to be rushing out a new format any time soon.

Additionally, all a new physical format could provide is additional storage. The FCC isn't going to mandate any increase in resolution any time soon, so 1080 is going to be the highest resolution for consumer electronics for a good while.
some of us have these things called laptops and most of them can be bought with blu-ray drives. on my HP it was an option last year. no need for a separate DVD player or to rely on some online service for anything since i have a 160GB hard drive.

i can rip music and DVD's to take with me anywhere i go. and if i wanted blu-ray i still have to take the physical disc with me. if i want to watch on TV i have HDMI and regular outputs.

i can even copy all my PC games to it and use the cracked exe files to play them with no CD, but i still prefer to use the real media so i can apply the latest patches to my games
Old 06-04-08, 07:59 AM
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TW is doing this all wrong, most ISP's have bandwidth caps where you pay more for higher speeds. they know the big downloaders want the faster speed so they charge them more for it and everyone is happy.

but then again this is the same company that merged with AOL and is still running that service
Old 06-04-08, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
some of us have these things called laptops and most of them can be bought with blu-ray drives.
"Most" can be bought with Blu-Ray drives? Really? Most? Have you even looked at the current selection of laptops? Most laptops sold currently still are not equipped with a Blu-Ray drive. What they do have is a hard drive and internet connection.

on my HP it was an option last year.
I didn't say it wasn't an option, I just pointed out, as you did, that it's an additional cost, while download services rely on components already provided with a PC or laptop.

no need for a separate DVD player or to rely on some online service for anything since i have a 160GB hard drive.
Right, because a 160GB HD would only hold, what, 20 DVDs after using some space for other things? Or a lot more iTunes or other movies, since those rely on better compression methods than DVD. How many discs do you carry around with you at one time?

i can rip music and DVD's to take with me anywhere i go.
Or, you could skip that step and download them, as a growing number of people are want to do.

and if i wanted blu-ray i still have to take the physical disc with me.
If you're lucky you have to take just the disc with you. You may have to take a player with you to your destination in order to watch it. And if you wanted to watch it in a car, subway, or plane, you're SOL.

if i want to watch on TV i have HDMI and regular outputs.
As do the set-top boxes for downloadable/streaming content.

Look, I'm not trying to say that BD is an obsolete/useless format, or that it's likely to become one any time soon. I'm just pointing out that your argument for downloadable content never being a viable format is severely flawed. You make arguments that download providers have either already addressed, or will be able to address within the reasonably near future. You address certain "flaws" in the download distribution method that may not be seen as flaws at all, if looked at from a certain viewpoint. Meanwhile, you ignore all the possible shortcomings of physical media, especially of Blu-Ray at this time.

Downloadable/on demand streaming of content is just going to grow in market size, and the technology is moving towards that. Even LG is going to add Netflix Online viewing to its upcoming BD player. I think BD will stick around for a decade or more, and it has some advantage as an owners format. However, a lot of people are also going to be using internet video more and more, including some BD owners. No single video format fits all uses best.
Old 06-04-08, 08:43 AM
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why exactly would i spend money on ITunes or some other download service when i can just rip music or movies from the disc?

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