Five Best Alternative File Copiers

If you do any serious file copying on a Windows system, you'll quickly discover that there are substantial limitations to the default file copier. Ease your file copying frustrations with these five alternative copiers.

Copying a few documents from your hard drive to your flash drive doesn't stress out the default copier too much. If you're dumping gigabytes of data from one drive to another, however, you'll quickly find that the default copier is sluggish and unreliable. The pinnacle of frustration: When Microsoft's default copier putters out while you're transferring tons of files and you're left with no indication what was copied and what wasn't, leaving you to pick through the file lists on each end or starting from scratch to ensure a clean copy. The five excellent alternatives below all succeed at alleviating the many shortcomings of the default copier.

FastCopy (Windows, Free)

FastCopy isn't pretty, but it is, as the name implies, quite speedy. FastCopy integrates with the system shell and is the only copier listed here which allows you to select which individual commands will appear on the right-click context menu. FastCopy allows you to specify actions based on a file's age, size, and name, among others. You can also enable secure overwrite, where all moved files are securely deleted from the source directory upon completion of the move. FastCopy can be made portable by copying the FastCopy.exe and FastCopy.chm from the installation directory.

RichCopy (Windows, Free)

RichCopy has been around since 2001 but was only recently released to the public; prior to that it had been an internal Microsoft tool. RichCopy offers all the functionality of the popular command line file copier, RoboCopy, but it's wrapped in a radically more user friendly GUI. RichCopy has a single but significant shortcoming: It lacks integration into the Windows shell. Despite functioning only as a stand alone tool, it earns its spot in the Hive Five by offering an enormous amount of granular control. You can apply dozens of variables control your file copying, including filtering files by name and extension and selectively applying file attributes. RichCopy is the only copier in the Hive that has profiles, a must for this app given how many variables it allows you to change. You can create a profile for every copying task you can think of.

SuperCopier (Windows, Free)

SuperCopier is a strong candidate for your flash drive. It's the only alternative copier here that makes itself the default drag-and-drop handler while the program is active. You can turn SuperCopier into a portable application by going into the Advanced menu and changing the Settings Location to ".ini file". SuperCopier, like RichCopy also allows you to specify if file attributes and security settings will be copied.

TeraCopy (Windows, Basic: Free / Pro: $21)

TeraCopy is one of the best known alternative file copiers, winning people over with an interface and functionality that one might call "just advanced enough". TeraCopy integrates with the Windows shell for drag-and-drop support and includes a solidly laid out right-click menu. It doesn't overwhelm you with a plethora of settings or options, but it provides enough advanced functionality to speed up file copying, notify you when files don't copy correctly, and allow you to bulk approve overwriting, renaming, and skipping of duplicate files. TeraCopy is also available in a portable version. The $21 Pro version adds the ability to select files by extension and remove files from the queue without having to start over.

CopyHandler (Windows, Free)

CopyHandler is another candidate with a ton of customizable options. While RichCopy specializes in granular control over things like file names and attributes, CopyHandler allows you to get as picky as setting custom buffer sizes based on whether a file is being copied to the same physical disk, disk to disk, disk to optical drive, and so forth. You can integrate CopyHandler into the Windows shell and the right-click menu, and you can even instruct it to perform tasks like shutting down the system when the copying is done. CopyHandler is also the only alternative copier listed here which allows you to pause your queue transfer, shut down the computer, and then start the queue up again upon logging back in.

This week's honorable mention goes to RoboCopy a powerful command line utility originally offered as part of the Windows Resource Kit and now included in Windows Vista and Server 2008. Even with the GUI add-on it's not pretty or remotely easy to use but it's quite a powerhouse if you love the command line.

Whether it's your first time trying out an alternative copier or you've long since swapped out the old and busted for the new and streamlined, we want to hear about it in the comments below.

Offbeat space experiments

Astronaut Koichi Wakata, who has been living aboard the International Space Station since mid-March, has carried out a series of offbeat space experiments proposed by the Japanese public.

In addition to attempting various physical exercises and gymnastics (including calisthenics, push-ups, flips, twirls, cartwheels, overhead soccer kicks, and swimming), Koichi folds clothes, rides a “magic carpet,” squirts water from a syringe, puts eyedrops in his eye, and attempts to propel himself through the room by flapping a fan. He also enlists the help of a fellow astronaut for some arm wrestling, hand-shaking, slap sumo, and tug of war.

Top 10 Wallpaper Tools & Tweaks

A good wallpaper provides a pleasant backdrop to productivity. A great wallpaper changes your whole computer experience. See some of the best image sources, software, and usability tweaks we've come across and rolled up for your downloading pleasure.

10. Wallpaper that looks like a desktop

Computer engineers spent all that research time making PCs resemble real-life workspaces, so why not indulge them a little while cleaning up your work space? Desktop wallpapers, in the strictest sense of the term, use visual representations of a wooden desk, a document stack, sticky notes, and other tools you'd use to organize a real desk to give you a place to put program icons and loose documents. Gabriel's layered desktop on Flickr is a prime example of such a spatial hack, as is ksieve's compartmentalized desktop, and it's a good starting point for creating your own divided desktop.

9. Relive your time-wasting past (or present)

Nothing particularly tricky about this item, just a pointer to some pretty amazingly detailed, stylish, and joy-evoking wallpapers. DeviantArt member Orioto paints wallpapers so fresh and eye-catching, we've highlighted them twice. They're note quite as stylized, but DesktopGaming has a wide-reaching collection of wallpaper sized just right for your system.

8. Match it with a custom theme

What good is having a slick, minimalist black background if all your program windows have to be cartoon-y, Windows XP blue? Break out of the blue/gray/Windows 98 lockdown by using Jason's guide to custom themes, which cracks open XP and Vista's theming restrictions and allows you to change your entire desktop's look and feel and integrate your wallpaper into a smooth, stylish whole.

7. Embed a calendar

A lot of apps can overlay a calendar on your desktop—Raindlendar comes to mind—but BigHugeLabs' Wallpaper tool does the job nicely, with no added software and a pretty clean look. Load up images from your system, or point to images elsewhere on the web, and you've got quite a lot of resolution, placement, and font options to pick from for embedding a calendar directly to your wallpaper's image file.

6. Find a great source

You can spend all day hoping to find a green-ish, abstract image through Google, Flickr, or other means that fits your 1440x900 and 1680x1050 monitors. Alternatively, you can try that search on one of our readers' favorite multi-monitor wallpaper spots, or give our top 10 wallpaper, font, and icon sources a go. Need more? We've also pointed out a great 70-wallpaper roundup that could play the perfect matchmaker between you and the wallpaper of your dreams.

5. Make your iPhone wallpaper productive

Your desktop's not the only place where a background image can do more than just be covered up. gCalWall and Wallpaper Labeler, two free App Store finds for the iPhone or iPod touch, add calendar events, customized notifications, and almost any other text you'd like to see on your device's "Slide to Unlock" screen. Check out our screenshot tour to see if you'd benefit from having a very expensive reminder note in your pocket.

4. Use multi-monitor images with UltraMon or DisplayFusion

We have a hard time choosing between these two little Windows software bundles, both of which offer a lot of functionality in their free versions, yet enough of an upgrade to make paying a small bit worth it. Whichever way you go, these Windows apps make it easy to manage separate images, or stretched giganto-images, across two, three, or however many monitors you're rocking. If you like to rotate, images, pull from Flickr, or otherwise mix up your images, well, they've got you covered there, too.

3. Rotate your wallpaper

Save your right-click finger some stress and keep your desktop fresh by rotating your background images automatically. We like how freeware apps Wallpaper Clocks and Desktopia shift wallpapers to match clock faces or the current amount of sunlight. For Windows users, Wallpaper Juggler is a free, open-source app that can automatically grab and download wallpaper from great sources, but we really love John's Background Switcher, which plugs into any service from Flickr to Facebook to keep your desktop fresh. Linux users have quite a few rotation options. The key to a great, time-sensitive wallpaper is having a good set of images. When I'm rocking Ubuntu Linux, for example, I sometimes keep the Dawn of Ubuntu set loaded to provide a background awareness of just how long I've been working (or having a great day).

2. Add killer customizations

They go way beyond wallpaper, but some of the best total desktop packages we've seen 'round these geeky parts—the Enigma, Lightning at Sunset, All About the Icons, and many more—are fully explained by their authors. That means links to the wallpaper sources, yes, but it also means the customizable clocks, text displays, and other features that look so perfect paired up with their chosen wallpaper can be easily added to your own desktop. You only have to go as far as you want, and there's lots of room for customization.

1. Roll Your Own

Want killer wallpaper that's really hard to find? Make it yourself. We're not suggesting you bust out Microsoft's Paint and paint your own landscapes (though feel free, really), but try some of the more intriguing wallpaper generators out there. Repper flips any image into striking wallpaper suitable for tiling. Collagr makes classy, well, collages from Flickr sets, and Top Draw generates abstract graphics on the fly. Want more fine-grained control? We like how Mike Matas used iPhoto and a plug-in to make a "Life Poster,", but the look can just as easily be accomplished in Picasa, and sized for the desktop instead of the office wall.

Ultra-futuristic concept vehicles

What will automobiles look like 50 years down the road? If they turn out to be anything like these concepts from the design studios of four major automakers, we are in for quite a ride.

- Mazda Motonari RX

Mazda Motonari RX --
Mazda Motonari RX

In Mazda’s vision of the late 2050s, advances in molecular engineering have rendered metal-based manufacturing obsolete. The rise of ubiquitous computing and artificial intelligence drastically accelerates the automotive production cycle. Cars are cheap, lightweight (around 200 lbs, or less than 100 kg), and equipped with intelligent crash avoidance systems that eliminate traffic accidents. However, people still manage to get speeding tickets.

Mazda Motonari RX --

The Mazda Motonari RX — which takes its name from the legendary Japanese warrior Mori Motonari — interfaces seamlessly with the driver to function as an extension of the body.

Mazda Motonari RX --

The vehicle drives sort of like a street luge. Acceleration and direction is determined by two armrest mounted control points, and the vehicle’s exoskeletal frame shape-shifts in accordance with the position of the driver’s arms and legs when enveloped in the seat.

Mazda Motonari RX --
Omni wheels

Four omnidirectional wheels allow 360 degrees of movement, and the tread expands or contracts to suit the driving conditions.

Mazda Motonari RX --

A “haptic skin” suit consisting of millions of microscopic actuators enables the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically while receiving electrical muscle stimulation from the onboard AI guidance system (or other remotely located drivers).

Mazda Motonari RX --

The vehicle’s entire structure is comprised of a 100% reprototypable, carbon nanotube/shape memory alloy weave with a photovoltaic coating, which allows the vehicle to mimic the driver’s body movements while powering the in-wheel electrostatic motors.

- Toyota Biomobile Mecha

In Toyota’s vision of the late 2050s, cities have developed vertically due to limited area on the ground, leading the transportation industry to develop new vehicles capable of navigating vertical space.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --
Toyota Biomobile Mecha

Toyota’s Biomobile Mecha, a shape-shifting vehicle with nano-laser wheels, can read and adapt to changes in the environment and travel vertical pathways by means of biomimetic feet with powerful suction.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --

In addition, the Biomobile Mecha is powered by pollution. A special skin derives energy from harmful substances in the air, so the vehicle never runs out of fuel (as long as the future skies remain polluted) and restores balance to the environment while it goes.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --

The real-time strategic navigation planning system, which reads the environment via a 3D scanner, gives the vehicle “instincts” that enable it to autonomously adapt to the driving environment.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --

Advanced nanotechnology enables the vehicle to expand and contract its structure horizontally and vertically as needed, allowing it to serve as a compact commuter, an aerodynamic performance vehicle, or even as a temporary dwelling.

- Nissan OneOne

In Nissan’s vision of the 2050s, robots have become an integral part of our lives, blurring the line between humans and machines. The Nissan OneOne combines personal mobility with the family robot concept.

Nissan OneOne --

Billed as the ultimate pet, the Nissan OneOne (pronounced “wan-wan,” the Japanese sound for a barking dog) is a friendly, helpful member of the family of the future. Able to operate autonomously without a driver, the GPS-guided vehicle can help out by picking up the dry cleaning, fetching the groceries, and taking the kids to school.

Nissan OneOne --

OneOne propels itself forward by flexing and relaxing synthetic polymer muscles in its “legs,” much as you would if skating on roller blades.

Nissan OneOne --

The vehicle can also assume various positions depending on the driving environment. It reclines to achieve greater speed, and it stands up to increase visibility and squeeze into tight spaces.

- Honda 124 (One to the Power of Four)

In Honda’s vision of the 2050s, people have flocked back to the suburbs, fueling consumer demand for a truly flexible commuter vehicle.

Honda 124 --
Honda 124

The solar-hybrid powered Honda 124 (One to the Power of Four) is an energy-efficient, modular vehicle that can separate into four different fully functional units, each uniquely suited for specific driving conditions.

Honda 124 --

A combination of robotics, artificial intelligence and molecular engineering (which enables the body panels to be reshaped according to use) allow each module to instinctively reconfigure itself and operate as a fully functional unit. Two of the modules are suitable for short-distance inner-city driving, while the other two are ideal for longer distances at higher speeds.

Honda 124 --

Because the Honda 124 consists of multiple units that can be joined together, carpoolers can take advantage of HOV lanes and share commuting costs.

Horror portraits by Daikichi Amano

Photographer Daikichi Amano’s deliciously macabre portraits are a titillating blend of horror, dark humor, and animal parts.

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Lenovo S12 Is the First Netbook With Nvidia Ion, Costs Under $500

With the IdeaPad S12, Lenovo, as rumored, is first out of the gates with a netbook based on Nvidia's Ion chipset, and it's a hell of a promising start: this 12-inch netbook promises the whole HD-playing, game-conquering Ion experience for around $500.

First, a refresher: Nividia's Ion platform is essentially Intel's Atom processor combined with the decent Nvidia 9400m graphics unit. The resulting performance isn't independently mind-blowing, offering smooth 1080p video decoding, including accelerated h.264 playback, Blu-ray playback and moderate gaming capabilities, but put into the context of existing Atom netbooks, it's a revelation.

Though technically not the first Ion-based product—that honor goes to the Acer Revo nettop—this is the first netbook, and frankly, it's exactly what we were told to expect from the start: a midrange, 12-inch netbook with a multimedia bent. It's a followup to the company's existing S9 and S10 IdeaPads, and, excluding the ION—a $50 option, unfortunately—it's not that different from its smaller stablemates.

The screen resolution is higher, at 1280x800, but therein lies a slight problem. Ion's banner claims revolve around HD video playback, and 1080p video won't be viewable on the S12, except on an external screen through its HDMI output. That said, the difference between 720p and 1080p video on such a small would hardly be noticeable.

Specs include 1GB of RAM, 160GB HDD, a 4-in-one card reader, a 3-cell battery (upgradeable to 6) and an ExpressCard slot for 3G expandability. XP is the OS of choice. Pricing starts at $449, and the S12 goes on sale in July. Ion, however, won't make its way to production units until an unspecified "late summer" date, and it'll cost a $50 premium over the standard, Intel-based solution. Full specs release below.

IdeaPad S12 Netbook

Display: 12.1 WXGA (1280 X 800) LED 200 nit, 250g
Processor: Intel Atom N270
Graphics: Intel integrated GMA 950, Nvidia ION
Memory: Up to 1GB DDR2 533 MHz
Hard Drive: Up to 160 GB SATA (160, 250, 320)
Battery Life: 3 hours with 3-cell, 6 hours with 6-cell
Weight: 1.4kg with 3 cell, 1.55kg with 6 cell
Dimensions: 292 X 216 X 22-28.9mm
Connectivity: 10/100m Ethernet, Broadcom 578M, Intel WiFi Link 5150 1X2 AGN, Intel WiFi Link 5100 1X2 AGN, Non-Intel wireless b/g, Non-Intel wireless b/g/n, Bluetooth
Other: 3 USB, 1 Expresscard slot (Intel and VIA platforms), 4-in-1 card reader, VGA, RJA45, HDMI
Software: XP Home SP3 (32 bit)

Lenovo Energizes Mini-Computing with its First 12-Inch Netbook
Debuts World's First Netbook with NVIDIA's ION Graphics Processor

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – May 25, 2009: Lenovo today announced the IdeaPad S12, the company's first 12-inch netbook. The new netbook takes the best in connectivity, style and entertainment features in Lenovo's other netbooks and brings users the next level in netbook computing with improved usability and performance. These enhancements include a 12.1-inch screen, a 100 percent full-size keyboard and new graphics options with the NVIDIA ION™ platform.

"We've heard from consumers loud and clear about the need for affordable and extremely portable computing devices, and we've responded by introducing our third netbook with a completely new form factor, making mini-computing more usable and redefining value in today's market," said Dion Weisler, vice president, Business Operations, Idea Product Group, Lenovo. "We are pioneering new territory in the developing netbook arena by being the first vendor to give customers high quality video and entertainment capabilities in a netbook with optional NVIDIA ION graphics."

Elevating Power and Performance
Whether it's looking at photos, playing music, emailing or cruising online, consumers want smaller and more portable PCs. The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 netbook is raising the bar for higher levels of netbook computing with choices of the Intel Atom processor with Intel integrated graphics or the Intel Atom processor with NVIDIA ION graphics. Also, for the first time on a netbook with NVIDIA's ION graphics platform, users will be able to enjoy brilliant 1080p high definition video with silky smooth playback.
"NVIDIA ION graphics help deliver the same features found in premium PCs at lower price points and new form factors," said Rene Haas, general manager, Notebook GPUs, NVIDIA. "With enhanced graphics, the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 netbook is perfect for watching movies, playing popular games like Spore, flipping through vacation pictures or enhancing family videos."

The IdeaPad S12 netbook offers plenty of up and running time with up to six hours of battery life to support the mobile demands of netbook users1. Because netbook users need to stay connected wirelessly, the netbook comes with WiFi connectivity and ready for 3G with an ExpressCard slot to enable connectivity2. To hold the photos, music and videos users keep on their netbooks, the IdeaPad S12 netbook offers ample hard drive storage and memory with up to 160 GB of storage and 1 GB of memory. For peace of mind in case data becomes corrupted, Lenovo's OneKey™ Rescue System can help recover user data or device settings.

Loaded with Style and Entertainment
In addition to the netbook's sleek and sophisticated ring pattern design in black or white, users can make the netbook their one-stop entertainment device, starting from the moment they turn it on. Lenovo's expanded VeriFace facial recognition technology makes logging in a snap by recognizing the user's face. If users want "on demand" functionality, they can go into the Lenovo Quick Start environment and check email, browse the Internet and more without waiting for the full operating system to boot. They can also don any set of headphones and enjoy surround sound audio with Dolby Headphone technology. If opting to watch video on an external monitor, they can easily connect through the netbook's VGA port or HDMI port on select models. They can also choose among several multimedia formats to upload through the 4-in-1 multicard reader.

An Improved Computing Experience
Lenovo designed the IdeaPad S12 netbook for consumers looking for a super thin, portable and affordable device that offered a familiar, computing experience. Lenovo enlarged the netbook's WXGA screen from 10.1 inches to 12.1 inches for better viewing and made the keyboard 100 percent the size of a full-size laptop to make typing easier and less cramped. And when it comes to portability, by measuring less than an inch thick4, the netbook leads the industry for thinness compared to other 12-inch netbooks. The lightweight IdeaPad S12 netbook weighs in at just three pounds5.

Pricing and Availability6
The IdeaPad S12 netbook will be available in June through business partners. Pricing for models starts at $449. Models with the NVIDIA ION graphics will be available later this summer.

About Lenovo
Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) is dedicated to building exceptionally engineered personal computers. Lenovo's business model is built on innovation, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction as well as a focus on investment in emerging markets. Formed by Lenovo Group's acquisition of the former IBM Personal Computing Division, the company develops, manufactures and markets reliable, high-quality, secure and easy-to-use technology products and services worldwide. Lenovo has major research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

1With a 6-cell battery.

2WWAN Service Providers: Requires separate agreement with select third party service provider, and is subject to credit approval and applicable service agreement/terms, rate plan and coverage maps of the provider. Service is available in select metropolitan markets, not available in all areas. Service provider, not Lenovo, is solely responsible for service. Lenovo customers may be contacted after purchase to activate service. Special credit and tenure restrictions and additional charges may apply to international roaming. A network connection, third-party software, additional hardware, and/or subscription to a third-party service may be required for certain solutions/applications. Additional restrictions apply.

4Based on measurement at the thinnest point, compared to existing 12-inch netbooks as of 5-25-09 from Dell and Samsung.

5With a 3-cell battery.

6Prices do not include tax or shipping and are subject to change without notice and is tied to specific terms and conditions. Reseller prices may vary. Price does not include all advertised features. All offers subject to availability. Lenovo reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time without notice.

Gundam legs

Gundam legs --

Piece by piece, an 18-meter tall, 35-ton full-scale Gundam statue is being assembled in Odaiba, Tokyo to commemorate 30 years of Mobile Suit Gundam. When finished in mid-July, the enormous figure will entertain onlookers by moving its head and shooting light and mist from 50 points on its body. Until then, we have these photos of its magnificent legs and assorted parts.

Gundam legs -- Gundam legs --

Gundam legs --

Gundam legs --

Ravage Transformer USB Drive Will Hold 2GB

Ravage used to transform from a cat into a cassette, but those weird, tapey things are a little old for fans of the bold, new, LeBouf'd version of the franchise. How about a USB drive?

In flash drive form, he's neither terribly compact nor inconspicuous, but this toy isn't meant to be a great Transformer—it's about proudly hanging a physical manifestation of your awkward fandom out of the side of your laptop. The Ravage drive will run a steep $43, and ship in September.

E-MU Pipeline Wireless Audio Transmitter/Receiver Lightning Review

The Gear: E-Mu's Pipeline low-latency wireless music system, which lets you cut the cord on your guitar-and-amp rig for about $200, or add portable wireless connections to your home sound system. The Price: Each module costs $100, and you need at least two to make things happen, so you're looking at $200 or even $300 to start.

The Verdict: It's a unique set of wireless toys that is a lot of fun to play with, and would have been a must-have back when I used to play guitar in a band. But these things can be cool even in the home of a total non-musician, which is why I'm bringing them up at all.

Think of it as Sonos Portable. You set one of them to transmit, and start playing a song from your computer, iPod, any audio source at all really, including, mind you, a CD or DVD player with S/PDIF output. Set another one to receive, then attach that to earphones, a boom box or your home theater system, and you hear everything with no latency. Well, with about 10 milliseconds of almost totally unnoticeable latency. In "broadcast" mode, you an add additional Pipelines—E-Mu says "any number of receivers"—so that many rooms, or many people, can catch your tuneage at the same time.

Of course, if you do play music, you can plug your guitar into one, set it for "pairing" mode, stick another one at your amp set to receive. In this scenario the latency is just 6.6ms, and you are suddenly completely unfettered.

I tested it in my house using prerecorded audio, and it sounded great. I stuck my computer with the source music down in the basement, and clipped a receiver to my belt with headphones plugged in, and wandered throughout the house. The signal faltered only when I was at the absolute farthest point away from the source, which probably was right around the advertised 15 meters (49 feet) of range that these babies can get.

Battery life is good, perhaps the big reason this thing even brushes the $100 point: You get 10 hours in receive mode, and 5 while transmitting.

The only issue I ran into, if you could call it that, was the "DIP switch" setup, which you can see in the rear shot above. I am not afraid of a few switches, but it seemed a complex way to set the channel, the receive or transmit mode, and the audio preferences. Not sure what would have been better, and once you set them, you can almost forget them, but it was, initially, a bit of a pain.

These babies aren't cheap, but setting up a way to wirelessly listen to music at home (like, say, piping music outdoors, syncing music between multiple rooms, or even walking around with earphones, listening to music playing somewhere else) seems worthwhile for $200, and the one-to-many broadcast mode makes it quite a unique product. My only gripe is that it would be cool if E-MU made an even better priced unit without the battery, so you could pick and choose.

Blu-ray Is Killing Itself

I love a good high-def movie, and Blu-ray players are sweet. Only they're so feature rich, the discs themselves are an afterthought—DOA or relegated to a niche format reserved for the finest films.

Oh, come on—you can't tell me you don't see where this is going. Even though the format has grown 72% in the last quarter, every Blu-ray player we choose to review has an abundance of features that have nothing to do with Blu-ray. In fact, they all have to do with delivering movies in a different way, with more instant gratification.

The joke is, when we were pushing for Blu-ray 2.0 with BD-Live a year ago, we didn't realize that the ethernet port was really not about enhanced Blu-ray at all, but about video on demand. I own a few Blu-rays, like Wall-E, that have BD-Live components. Never even bothered with them. No point. But you'd be a 'tard to buy a Blu-ray player without an ethernet port, and you'd be a 'tard to buy a Blu-ray player without Netflix on demand, and at this point, another service for new-release movies, like Amazon VOD or CinemaNow.

Netflix gives me back seasons of 30 Rock and The Office in high-def. Pop quiz: Will I ever buy them on Blu-ray, or even DVD? No. I can even get stuff I'd have previously hunted down on disc, like The IT Crowd. I can get lots of the movies I previously owned on DVD instantly on demand for no cost other than the $10 monthly subscription. People don't even bitch about DRM with Netflix, because it's instant and always there, so even the copyright owners should be happy. Time Warner's boss even said he's thinking about offering a Netflix-like VOD distribution channel for HBO—nothing like all-you-can-eat Rome, Wire and Band of Brothers to kill DVD sales, and HBO still gets their mad money.

You want to talk video quality? Fine. I own The Dark Knight on Blu-ray. That movie is freakin' awesome, and I am happy to watch it on a Blu-ray player, while I sit exactly 47 inches from a 50-inch 1080p plasma television. But what about Billy Madison? I love that movie too, but I first owned it on a VHS playing in 4:3 at what you might call 240i, and I can verify that the high-def version is no funnier. In fact, instead of fishing out the HD DVD of it I have, and hooking up the HD DVD drive to my Xbox, I'd probably sooner try to find it on Netflix, in whatever video quality they're offering.

Besides, most people—most Giz readers, I'd wager—are watching "high def" movies on LCD TVs they bought at Costco for $899, so you can't tell me that they can see a difference between so-called VOD high-def and real bonafide Blu-ray high-def, even though there definitely is one.

The Criterion Collection belongs on Blu-ray. But six films by Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam and Akira Kurosawa do not an industry make. Like our discussion of audiophiles, there's a need to preserve (and even appreciate) video at very high quality, but that need doesn't trickle down to the masses, and especially doesn't matter for every single film, or even the vast majority of middle-of-the-road movies and TV. DVDs were a hit because they were the smartest way to deliver most video in the years 1999 to 2007. Now, the smartest way to deliver most video is over broadband, not on high-density shiny discs.

Don't get me wrong. You'll buy a "Blu-ray player." Stats show many of you already are. You may even buy some Blu-ray discs, or pay the extra $2 or $3 for Netflix Blu-ray rental. But the amount of time you'll spend watching Blu-ray on it will continue to dwindle, until, maybe one day, the disc tray just refuses to open from lack of use.

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