Blockbuster reminds me why I bought a TiVo.
As I mentioned recently, Verizon FiOS TV spoiled my Valentine’s Day movie night when the video-on-demand (VOD) movie I was watching died without explanation. Verizon’s subsequent inept technical service and customer service caused my wife and and I to reconsider our options for our next movie night.
So, on Saturday, my wife trudged to Blockbuster to rent a DVD. Battling the crowds, she was not able to find the movie we were watching on Wednesday. A clueless Blockbuster worker told her that they did not carry the movie. Of course, they did – my wife found it out back – it was just out of stock. So she chose another movie.
When we got home, and the kids were all tucked in their beds, we got ready to start movie night number two. It was, by this point, long after Blockbuster had closed. You know those stupid plastic security devices that Blockbuster puts in the DVD cases to prevent them from being opened? The same ones that the clueless workers are supposed to remove before giving you the movie they didn’t even know the store carries? Can you see where this is going? Yes, well, the security device was still in place, preventing less determined consumers from opening the DVD case.
It turns out that plastic DVD case security devices – like copy-protected music, movies, and games or anything else protected with so-called “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) – can be cracked. All it takes is a pair of scissors and some brute force. We ripped open the case, we watched the movie, it was very satisfying.
So, to review the pathetic state of the TV industry:
- We canceled Comcast cable TV because they charged a ridiculously high price (circa $50/month) for basic analog cable TV (about 50 channels). They also happily rented me a cable TV box for years without bothering to mention that my cable-ready TV didn’t need it. And rarely sent out channel guide updates when the channel lineup changed.
- We got a TiVo and it was OK. The TiVo played more nicely with Comcast analog cable than it does with Verizon FiOS TV. Problems include the channel data being wrong, resulting in the wrong show being recorded. No way to filter movie recordings by rating (we’d like to exclude the one-star movies). No way to filter movie recordings by language. No way to watch one channel while recording another (worked fine with Comcast, not with Verizon FiOS TV).
- We tried Verizon FiOS TV and it was OK. Channels pixelate frequently. The remote stops responding and then suddenly responds all at once to the various buttons that you’ve pressed to try to get the TV to respond. VOD died the one time we tried to use it.
- And Blockbuster, clueless.
Will Apple TV save us from all of this insanity?