By Gordon Meyer
Even though I’ve been back from CES almost a month, I’m still wading through the mountain of promotional material, press kits and swag accumulated at the show. This year, that included a device I almost overlooked, which turns out to be a cool little perk for travelers. Or is it?
When I first saw the Green Play media player, I thought, “Here’s a nifty little USB gizmo that lets me access SD cards on my computer. Hey! They even included a 4GB SD card.” But it turns out that gizmo is actually a digital media player powered by Roxio. The idea is that by going to a conveniently located Download2Go kiosk, you can download the latest movies or TV shows in encrypted form onto your SD card on either a rental or purchase basis.
At present, most kiosks are located at major airports around the country since the current primary target market is busy travelers who want to get some video entertainment for their flight as an impulse buy. Since the SD reader is so tiny, it’s easy to slip in your pocket, which is great for travelers. According to the Download2Go website, it takes just a minute or so to download a full length movie onto an SD card, which is also being touted as eco-friendly since it’s on reusable media and there’s no packaging involved.
When I plugged in the sample that came in my gift bag, I discovered to my delight that it had a copy of the movie “Inception” pre-loaded onto it. Cool!
So how did it look and sound on my computer? Good, but not great. The picture is roughly a half notch below DVD quality with a slightly soft image. The sound was also good, but not great and certainly good enough if I were watching on my laptop with a decent pair of earphones. Although there were chapter stops, there was no bonus content.
When it comes to watching movies at home, I have to tell you that between the superb picture and sound quality and bonus content, I’m spoiled by Blu-ray and DVD. So any alternative delivery system like Green Play/Download2Go has got to have both a major convenience factor and price advantage for me to want to use. Since my nearest Download2Go kiosk is at the Tom Bradley International terminal at LAX, I have no idea how attractive their pricing is.
According to the Download2Go website, the plan is to roll out the service to your neighborhood grocery or convenience store as well as those airport locations where the service will compete with Redbox and Blockbuster kiosks and their $1 rentals. While you’ll have to provide your own SD card, presumably these kiosks will offer you the option of buying one as you can at their airport locations.
Consumers have said through their buying patterns, “Make it easy for me. Don’t make me work.” One of the reasons the disc kiosks have been so successful is that they make it easy for consumers to make an impulse buy. It will be interesting to see how well a business model that requires customers to supply their own storage media can compete with the ease and convenience of disc kiosks.