Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Video On Demand Has Greatly Improved Since The Days I Used A BETA VCR

Way back in the last century, for me, Video on Demand meant setting a VCR to record a program which I could then watch on my own schedule.

The VCR recordings were on tape. One had two formats to choose from, VHS or BETA. BETA was better in the opinion of many, but VHS could record more hours. Eventually VHS beat BETA in the VCR wars.

It all seems so quaint now, the idea that people used to go to rent videos from businesses open for just that purpose. I can remember wandering the aisles of Blockbuster, along with dozens of other wanderers, looking for a video to rent on a Saturday night.

I do not remember when I quit using a VCR. I remember at some point in time adding a combo VCR/DVD player to my TV system.

And then one day a salesman knocked on my door and changed my TV world forever. The salesman convinced me to switch from Charter TV & Internet to AT&T U-Verse TV & Internet.

I had not been happy with Charter TV due to frequent outages. And other issues.

A couple days later a couple AT&T Tech people showed up and installed the U-Verse equipment, including a DVR device which seemed to be the heart of the system. One of the DVR devices were connected to each of the TVs in my abode.

The AT&T Tech people did not re-connect my combo VCR/DVD player to the system when they connected the DVR. At the time I felt not connecting the VCR/DVD player was a bit rude. After about a week I forgot I ever used a VCR/DVD player.

The DVR can record something like 80 hours of TV. It can record 4 shows at once. Whenever I start watching anything the DVR starts recording it. Switch to another channel, that channel starts getting recorded. I can hit the pause button, get up to go to the kitchen, get back to the TV, hit play, miss nothing.

Very convenient.

To my simple mind the most amazing part of the DVR AT&T U-Verse system is Video on Demand.

I use the remote control to navigate  to the On Demand area, get presented with many options. I usually choose "Free Shows." Click "Free Shows" and you all  the usual network and cable suspects. Click CBS, then you see icons representing various CBS shows. Click a show and you'll see a list of episodes. Click an episode and "Play" and almost instantly you are watching the show you have demanded to watch.

I have long wondered how in the world this Video on Demand thing works. What if at any random time hundreds, or thousands, of viewers are demanding to watch CSI, how is it that that one show can be streamed to so many TVs, right when the viewer demands it?

I Googled for an answer. The Wikipedia Video on Demand article was not Video on Demand for Dummies friendly enough for me to understand.

All I know for sure is the entire DVR/Video on Demand concept has evolved far beyond the antique world of my old BETA VCR....

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