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Week in Tech: Netflix should steer clear of Clarkson and a Top Gear reboot

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Blu-ray

TrustedReviews’ man in America Chris Smith once again weighs in on why there’s hope for 4K Blu-ray, Netflix’s reported plans to bring Jeremy Clarkson on board, Rdio’s big bet and Fitbit’s latest woes.

Ultra HD Blu-ray dead on arrival? Not so fast

There were numerous groans this week, when the Blu-ray Disc Association confirmed the standards for the forthcoming Ultra HD discs. It seems the format has already been condemned as a lame duck due to the ever-ebbing desire for physical media and Blu-ray’s continuing irrelevance.

While it seems like a logical argument, don’t go writing UHD-BD’s obituary just yet.

Remember, we still have one hell of a long way to go before Ultra HD (or 4K, whatever you want to call it) can be a truly viable digital format. Prohibitive broadband speeds, off-the-charts data consumption and the quality/efficiency of the video encoding are still major obstacles.

Most Internet Service Providers who don’t already enforce data caps do have ‘fair usage policies.’ Users may not get too much earache now, but just wait until viewers are chewing up over a terabyte of data per month by streaming and downloading Ultra HD movies.

Netflix’s 1080p streaming sucks down 3GB of data per hour. Imagine how that’s going to spiral at four times the resolution? The company’s CEO Reed Hastings says viewers streaming House of Cards in 4K are consuming anywhere between 75GB (using the latest H.265 codec) and 200GB per series.

That’s just not going to fly with ISPs on a mass scale. The result will be hugely inflated, prohibitively priced monthly tariffs and an unwanted return of the Net Neutrality debate. Unless you have a very understanding ISP, or a limitless budget, there’ll be no 4K binge-watching for you, sorry, mate.

Read more: Best Blu-ray players 2015

4K Blu-ray

If you'd actually prefer to download the 100GB of video that can be packed onto a new Ultra HD disc in order to avoid repeat streaming, PS4 and Xbox One users will tell you that you’d better start that morning or the night before. There goes the convenience element that’s proved such a big part of streaming’s rise.

Oh and have you thought about where you're going to store your Ultra HD downloads collection? Are you ready to buy a 10TB hard drive?

These are all quandaries that can be answered by just buying the disc and popping it in a player. As there are far fewer hurdles to overcome, Ultra HD Blu-ray could actually be the more convenient format than 4K digital, at least for the foreseeable future.

While the format might never reach the heights of DVD, or perhaps even the relatively mainstream status of its 1080p forefather, Ultra HD Blu-ray has the chance to become a real enthusiasts' format. It can be something that enables collectors to watch their favourites at the ultimate quality without worrying about data consumption, download waits or stream buffering that’ll doubtless blight the new resolution for years.

Just one thought: how long do you think it’ll be before Sony starts fitting PS4s with Ultra HD Blu-ray players? Could PlayStation aid the format in the way it spearheaded DVD and helped Blu-ray win the HD disc war?

Netflix would be stupid to throw antiquated Clarkson a bone

Is there a tech company with a more favourable reputation than Netflix? I don’t think so. The pioneering streaming service can really do no wrong in the eyes of its adoring millennials.

House of Cards and Orange is the New Black are absolutely beloved – despite the latter being a terrible collection of outdated racial stereotypes wrapped up in prison jumpsuits – while the company has delighted fans by resurrecting cult classics such as Arrested Development and Trailer Park Boys. It has also brought “binge viewing” into the common vernacular thanks to shows such as Breaking Bad, and changed the way we enjoy telly. For the better, in my view.

In short, everyone thinks Netflix's poop smells like a lovely roast dinner with all the trimmings.

It also has a hip and trendy social media presence with its finger on the pop culture pulse, which makes reports suggesting the firm is plotting an alliance with Jeremy Clarkson all the more surprising.

Netflix seems to be interested in reuniting the axed Top Gear host with disciples Hammond and May for a ‘House of Cars’ original show (geddit?). While the imbeciles who signed that ludicrous petition to get him reinstated would love it, practically no one else would. As such, Netflix should avoid him at all costs.

With numerous accusations of racism, bullying, misogyny, chauvinism, homophobia and general class bigotry in his past, Netflix’s adoring young public, many of whom have liberal-leaning political views, might be forced to reconsider their love affair with Netflix, should it throw Clarkson a bone. I’d go as far as to say there’d be calls for mass boycotts.

Netflix has come a long way and unquestionably represents the forward-thinking, innovative, cutting-edge future of television. It has worked hard to cultivate a flawless reputation in the eyes of the public.

Clarkson, meanwhile, represents the past. He belongs in the wilderness with other relics like Ron Atkinson, Jim Davidson and Richard Keys. Let sleeping dogs lie, Netflix. Don’t undo all of your good work.

Read more: Amazon Prime vs Netflix

Netflix button

Fitbit lawsuit could give the company sleepless nights

If wearable tech heavyweight Fitbit thought the perennial skin-irritation issues were its only problem, this week had some sobering news. A class action lawsuit filed against the company cites a study claiming the trackers over-estimate sleep by an average of 67 minutes per night.

Fitbit has hit back at the ‘meritless’ lawsuit and vowed to ‘vigorously defend’ its technology. So it should. The suit, like most filed against US tech companies, seems very opportunistic.

However, the writ is food for thought for wearable enthusiasts. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we’ve come to trust these ‘connected self’ devices? Their companion apps are dishing out tips, medical advice and lifestyle tips and we can’t get enough, desperate for a better night’s sleep, a slimmer waistline or a better body.

We treat wearables like they’re precise, scientific medical devices to be trusted with our lives, yet the companies who peddle them repeatedly warn us they’re not. What if theses miraculous and cheap little devices packed with inexpensive movement sensors are actually feeding us with incorrect data?

Read more: Apple Watch Sports vs Fitbit Surge

Apple Watch Sport

Rdio Select is a great deal for light listeners

I’ve heard a few folks scoff at the Rdio Select offering of 25 songs per day plus ad-free personalised radio for £3.99 a month, but I think it’s pretty good value. It might only be two albums a day, but that could be enough for many folks’ daily commute, or recreational listening, making it worth the £6 saving on an all-in sub.

Customers can also download 25 songs to keep for offline listening at any time. These tracks can be switched out every day, so in theory it gives them the chance to store about 60 albums during any given month. It’s not quite the same principle, but accessing 60 albums using iTunes would cost £600.

Last week I suggested Spotify had gotten an easy ride from its early competitors. Companies have failed to offer a proposition that’s different enough to win over rivals. Rdio Select is the outside-the-box alternate that could be its ticket to the big time.

Read more: Best Streaming Service: Which one to download

Rdio

Trevor Totten

May 15, 2015, 3:27 pm

So anyone who likes Clarkson, and loved Top Gear, is an imbecile in your eyes? You know you're insulting a few million people there, including myself. I didn't sign the petition, and didn't disagree with the decision to sack him. But if Netflix sign him and May and Hammond up, that will be enough to make me consider a subscription. And why would anyone boycott Netflix because of that? Sounds to me like you're pushing your own anti-Clarkson agenda here. If you don't like him, Netflix won't force you to watch any new show that they produce with him in it. There's an awful lot of crap on TV these days, and you know what? I don't stop watching TV - I just don't watch the crap.

Articles like this are much more likely to make me stop reading Trusted Reviews.

Joycey

May 15, 2015, 4:12 pm

Not a fan of Clarkson and co then? Think you maybe in the minority there.

Chris Smith

May 15, 2015, 5:42 pm

No, I'm saying the people who signed the petition are imbeciles.

Peter

May 15, 2015, 8:37 pm

I signed the petition.
I believe that everyone have the right to speak his mind and I respect your opinion.
But you're and idiot.
That is My opinion.

mayor

May 15, 2015, 10:58 pm

Clarkson is an actual real human, as opposed to the never ending stream of lame television personalities that would seem to fit your idea of "worthy". Is there anyone left in the world who is not a slave to the pre-conceived notions of proper behavior that run the world now. How boring you are.

James Mayfield

May 16, 2015, 12:51 am

The only "imbecile" here is the author, Chris Smith. I'm sure that I represent a massive number of people who will NEVER, EVER subscribe to Netflix -- UNLESS the Top Gear trio move to it with the presumed "House of Cars" show. We aren't lefty or righty or anything other than folks who enjoy the humor and the automotive fun that has made Top Gear one of the most popular television series shown throughout the entire planet.

Hamish Campbell

May 16, 2015, 8:04 am

To be fair, I think punching a co-worker in the face falls outside of everyone's pre-concieved notions of proper behaviour, as do racially based jokes.

Ivan Milovanovic

May 16, 2015, 10:49 am

The Clarkson text makes me reconsidering visiting TrustedReviews.com again, as you shamelessly state something that does not concern you, I realize that those words are "pushed" by some form of propaganda machine. You, Sir, have no pulse...

ElectricSheep

May 16, 2015, 2:15 pm

'Clarkson, meanwhile, represents the past. He belongs in the wilderness with other relics like Ron Atkinson, Jim Davidson and Richard Keys. Let sleeping dogs lie, Netflix. Don’t undo all of your good work.'

At last, someone on TR's with the balls to post a strongly worded opinion! This is good. However, whilst every dog has its day, I don't think you're batting for the winning team this time.

Graham Culleton

May 16, 2015, 4:06 pm

Top Gear on Netflix... sign me up.

Tertullus

May 16, 2015, 4:22 pm

Bad logic, my friend. How many people will discontinue Netflix if they bring on Clarkson & Company? Very, very few probably. They just won't watch it. But how many will sign up for Netflix under the same circumstances? Many, many hundreds of thousands, I'm betting. You are letting your distaste for Clarkson interfere with your business judgment.

Gerald Allen

May 17, 2015, 6:38 am

We need more non-pc programs out there. What's wrong with someone who speaks as he feels? And how does a tech site know anything about what the hundreds of thousands of people who watch Top Gear type shows? They come from all walks of life. Just because the writer of this article never understood the power of a real car, does not mean that others don't. I know quite a few people who would get Netflix just for Clarkson. I know no one who would drop them for the same reason. Just because a wimpy tech guy gets punched we should all lose? no. He should have done his job. He should have checked before the last minute and found what he was sent after. I would have fired him at least as incompetent. Maybe even punched him for being stupid.

Gerald Allen

May 17, 2015, 6:39 am

PC world is getting old fast.

Gerald Allen

May 17, 2015, 6:41 am

Would that be the petition to sack him? There was one of those also.

OnoSendai

May 17, 2015, 3:14 pm

I've never read so called "trusted reviews" before and after reading this article by so called "Chris Smith" I'm unlikely to ever again. I personally don't like unintelligent rants about a writers personal views on a topic wholly unrelated to rest of the subject matter in an article. The original premise of your half thrown together collection of thoughts was some nonsense about Bluray disks, that I simply couldn't stomach. You then launch into a ridiculous lovefest with NetFlix, before starting an all out personal attack on another human, that you have very likely never seen in person, let alone know well enough to make judgements about. If the name of this website were called "Half-Thoughts from Idiots" it would be a better placed article.

shnatiw

May 17, 2015, 5:42 pm

Good point. It will attract more to Netflix than it would ever lose. Especially more of the older crowd. Which would appeal to Netflix. However, would it ever see it's Top Gear viewing figures again. I don't think so. It was the show's format, brand, presenters, and relationship with the BBC that really made it. How many presenters have left the BBC and never regained their fan base. Quite a few! I liked Clarkson and thought he was unique and entertaining. But he was also everything the author of this article has said. And it is 100% his fault that Top Gear was cancelled.

wcwchris

May 17, 2015, 5:54 pm

And yet everyone has wanted to punch a co-worker in the face at one point or another and have told jokes that aren't p.c.

Hamish Campbell

May 17, 2015, 6:54 pm

There's a big difference between wanting to punch someone in the face and doing so. There's also a big difference between an non pc joke amongst friends, and what he's come out with on (inter) national television.

Latex_Salesman

May 17, 2015, 9:02 pm

You write opinionated articles that nobody cares about on a website that probably gets about 7 regular readers per week. You are among the biggest imbeciles on the face of the earth. Fuck off.

David

May 18, 2015, 9:42 am

"You're and idiot", eh? I think you've just made his case for him very eloquently!
;-)

Fenderaddict2

May 19, 2015, 1:09 pm

So Netflix should limit its appeal to a single demographic? How is that forward thinking? As a long-term Netflix subscriber I hope to see Clarkson & Co in my listings soon.

CaptMorgAZ

May 20, 2015, 7:03 pm

Let me guess, Chris Smith, you ride a bike or public transport everywhere you go, you are afraid of Orange because you secretly want to be a lesbian yourself, and you wrote this article only because it was a contrarian point of view and you thought you could ride the JC gravy train to a few hundred page views? Notice that there is nary a comment on any of the other garbage you wrote surrounding the JC garbage that brought us all here? Go back into your tree-house and wipe your bum with some leaves and stay out of what legitimate entities with mass appeal like Netflix should and should not do. You are useless

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