Remember the "video store"? You should, it's not been that long since you had two or three just around the corner. The VHS revolution started out as a simple time-shifting device along with replacing your 16mm camera for family stuff, then companies figured out you'd love stopping by on the way home from work to grab a VHS movie for watching that night. Didn't take too long for DVDs to supplant VHS tapes; probably the only reason you have a VHS player in your house right now is to transfer family stuff from VHS to DVD.
Well, paradigms are a shiftin' again.
Home "media centers" (or whatever the current marketing term is) are quickly replacing DVDs; I put together a system using a Western Digital Live Plus that combines access to a hard drive and to NetFlix. To get rid of all those DVDs on the shelf in the family room I "ripped" all the DVDs to that hard drive and now watch them through the WDTV device (I keep the physical DVDs as backups.) So now, "watching a DVD" consists of changing to that device and watching on TV right off the hard drive. My "DVD collection" has become a (regularly backed-up) hard drive, with the jacket info being some source on the Internet (like IMDB.com).
And then there's NetFlix. They're not there yet, but what happens when pretty much anything you want is available on-demand, real-time from NetFlix? For $8 (or whatever) per month you can rely on Netflix to provide to you the movie data that you're now keeping on VHS tapes, DVDs, and hard drives. As long as you have access to the Internet, your "DVD collection" is nothing more than a service fee to Netflix.Why buy when you can rent...?
And that's not even getting into watching regular TV shows off the Internet, such as via Hulu. Could the now-ubiquitous TiVo/DVR heading the way of the dinosaur?
Oh, you'll still want to have a place to save all your home movies, but eventually you won't burn them to VHS or DVD any more; your hard-drive-based media center will cover you there (and the data has a much longer shelf life on that physical media versus magnetic tape or laser DVD.) But don't be surprised if someone isn't already thinking of a way for you to store your home movies on the Internet somewhere, backed up safely and off-site, letting you access them on-demand via your TV (and you can share with family across the country, too!) If no one has thought of that yet, I claim the idea!!! Please pay me royalties...? Wait a sec...that's called YouTube! Though their 10-minute-max and file size limits pretty much preclude them from being a true 'home movie media center' and more like a 'Twitter for home video'. And, yup, the WDTV I have can also show YouTube videos on the TV (as well as many other Internet media sources)...
The times, they are a'changin'.