Cloudy, with a chance of video
While cloud computing promises solutions to many problems, video is still a dicey affair. We try out Cloud Engines' Pogoplug Video as a home remedy.
With Apple's iCloud coming next week, hot on the heels of iPad--to get my media, be it TV shows, movies, music or books., it seems like the years-old dream of cloud media streaming is coming to greater fruition than ever before. That's promising news to me, a person who cut the cord on his cable TV over a year and a half ago. I live off the Internet and my various devices--my laptop, game consoles, iPhone, and
So far, it looks like 2011 will be more the year of Cloud Music than that of Cloud Video. And that's a shame, because I'm getting fed up with my half-baked digital-video life.
I've spent the last week with a product called
for the Pogoplug Video. The $199 device is much like the
But I say "technically" because the interface on the Pogoplug app is a little odd and muddled, and not every video file is compatible. The Xbox 360 and PS3 have their own oddities: each one streams certain files but not others. An MP4 didn't play on my Xbox, but it streamed perfectly on the PS3. iPhone 4 home movies didn't play well on either. Needless to say, neither did DRMed videos.
I don't mean to harass the Pogoplug Video (a full review of the Pogoplug Video will come after my return from E3). My home Synology NAS server exhibits similar oddities. Video comes in too many versions, too many file formats, and bit rates. It's a standards-maker's nightmare, and a casual consumer's landscape to avoid.
My point is this: when it comes to video, I sometimes feel like I'd just be better off playing DVDs and hooking up my cable/DVR again.
My dream is for a cloud service orthat would help collate and play my videos. I hold onto some small hope for Apple's iCloud, but I'm not expecting the solution I'm looking for to emerge now. Of course, I could always use YouTube or Vimeo. Yes, for my own content--but that does nothing to help me organize my TV viewing and movies. For that, I resort to streaming services, like everyone else.
But even the available landscape of TV and movie-streaming sites has never been more daunting or confusing.
First you have Netflix, Hulu Plus, andwith their fluctuating and incomplete libraries, offering a beautiful product that never has exactly what you're looking for.
Then there are services like iTunes, which offer chunky media files that are DRMed and single-download, unless you opt for ever-so-brief 24- to 48-hour rental windows through services like Vudu, iTunes, or Amazon. Apps like Fanhattan aim to consolidate search, but the database wasn't complete the last time I checked.
Yes, we're going deeper into cloud computing than ever before, but that's mainly for documents, photos, and music. Video is the final frontier, and the one that seems hardest to conquer. Unfortunately, I've yet to find any hardware that will help, either. And I'm not sure how much I want to keep searching.
What's your solution for video?