"Prizefight: BitTorrent vs. iTunes Store"
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Prizefight: BitTorrent vs. iTunes Store
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>> Hello technology lovers, I'm Veronica Belmount and this is Prize Fight. Today we're going to look at two online movie and television services that aim to save you that dreaded trip to the rental store. Yes, because you're just that lazy. Rick Needleman from Webware gave me some help today for this Prize Fight between bittorent.com and iTunes. Bit Torrent is attempting to build a business on their popular file sharing system. And iTunes has been hawking more than music for some time now. There are, of course, other notable names in this field such as Cinema Now, Movie Link, Mongo, even Netflix. But I felt that these two behemoths would make an interesting pair. They've both done different things well for a long time, but how will they move in to a legitimate straight to computer movie and TV service? First up is Round One, interface. iTunes has a very simple interface and the store reflects that. TV shows and movies are easy to browse for and search and you can also see what's hot at the moment. Clicking on a movie not only brings up a plot summary but also related movies, what other people who bought that title purchased, reviews and trailers. TV shows were similar with a summary of the shows, hottest episodes and the available downloads in that season. Clean, simple, easy to understand. There's even a power search which lets you search by actors, directors and year. Bit Torrent looks pretty easy on the eyes at first but it's not nearly as intuitive as it should be. The most annoying part about buying a television show is that you can't view by season, only episode. So if you're missing season one of My Name is Earl there's no easy way to press a button and download the entire season. And if you want to browse movies you're really screwed. It just pops up the entire list which you can then sort by relevance, title and freshness. Great! Helpful! Thanks! It was nice that they showed how many people were seeding a certain video so at least you might now if it would download quickly or not. And it does have some streaming previews so it's not a total write off just mostly. For this round I'm giving iTunes a four and Bit Torrent a two.
[ Bell rings ]
Maybe you can't find what you're looking for because it's not even on the service yet. Selection is next.
[ Bell ringing, applause ]
Let's pick a few shows and movies and see if they're available on both services. Take it away chart man. Battlestar Galactica. It's in iTunes but not Bit Torrent. My favorite movie Boombox [unclear], nope not on either. Lost, it's on iTunes but not Bit Torrent, again. Let's try another TV show, 24. Yep, got it on both. Oscar nominee Little Miss Sunshine, only on Bit Torrent. Of course, it all depends on what you're looking for. Bit Torrent has deals with Paramount, Lions Gate, Fox, MTV, all have pretty good offerings. iTunes has more selection right now but also been around for a little longer. I'm going to give this round to iTunes with the hope that Bit Torrent will soon catch up. iTunes gets a four and Bit Torrent gets a three.
[ Bell rings ]
Okay, not terrible showings for either side. What kind of damage will they do to your wallet? Price is Round Three.
[ Applause ]
The movies on iTunes are priced at variable rates. Newer releases are fourteen-ninety-nine or fifteen-ninety-nine and they can go down to nine-ninety-nine, much less for animated shorts and things like that. TV shows are one dollar ninety-nine an episode and generally around 35 bucks for an entire season. These prices are pretty normal for DVDs but you have to think that you're not getting a box or any extra features so take that into consideration. The movies are yours to keep just like a hardcopy. Bit Torrent has movies for much cheaper but that's because they're all rental. After 30 days the download stops working unless you manage to clock up 24 hours of viewing before the 30 days is up. It's a better system if you want to try a lot of different movies but don't want them to take up all that space on your hard drive. Most new releases are three-ninety-nine and older videos or cartoons are going to be a buck ninety-nine to two-ninety-nine. TV shows are also usually a dollar ninety-nine, which seems a little high considering the rate for movies. To me it seems like a rip off that I only get 30 days or 24 hours of viewing time to see my rental. Netflix doesn't work that way. Why should Bit Torrent? iTunes gets a four for this round and Bit Torrent gets a three.
[ Bell rings ]
Bit Torrent is on the ropes and looking a little punch drunk right now but let's see if it can fight back in Round Four, compatibility. iTunes is available on Mac or PC and all the content downloads as protected AAC for audio or protected mpeg4 when you're getting video content. You can validate five computers to play purchase content and you can play it on one device and iPod, of course. You can't burn a video to a disc and then play it on a standard DVD player. Bit Torrent only works for Windows XP or higher and it only has video in WMB so Mac workers are out of luck. You also need Internet Explorer 6 point 0 or higher. We've had it working Firefox so I'm assuming this just means it works best in IE. Oh, and you can't transfer the video content to any portable device, none, nada, zilch, ouch. iTunes gets a three for this round and Bit Torrent gets a one.
[ Bell rings ]
Boo! Terrible round for Bit Torrent. It's not looking good. Is there any way that speed can save it from muddy defeat? Now we should all know how Bit Torrent works. If you try to download a file that a lot of people are seeding your file should go very quickly. In a nutshell, you're taking bits of the file from other people instead of downloading from one central place. Once your file is down you seed it for other users to download from. Luckily Bit Torrent helps with this issue by seeding every file. So even if no one else has it on their system you'll still be able to get it. All in all you have a possibility of a blazing fast connection at best and a piddly Chinese water torture like download at worst. iTunes at least is consistent depending on your internet connection that could either be fast or slow. However, I think that the Bit Torrent model is very promising. If more people start using it then the speed will probably continue to get faster and faster. I'm going to give this round to Bit Torrent. iTunes gets a three and Bit Torrent gets a four.
[ Bell rings ]
In closing Bit Torrent has a long way to go. Hey, Bit Torrent, if you're going to get into the market dominated by Apple you need to bring the game a little bit more, you know, selection, price, relax DRM, something. You can't expect people to flock to your store just because the name has geek cred. Try harder. Thanks for watching Prize Fight. If you want to make suggestions you can email me at prizefightatCNET.com. I'm Veronica Belmount, I'll see ya next time.
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