2013 Digital Media Strategy

We’ve had the cord cut for a number of years as far as digital content goes. For a long time it was all about a NAS in the house and making sure everything could get to it from anywhere. The most recent iteration involved the soon-to-be-euthanized Windows Live Mesh, and continuous synchronization. Times continue to change, and managing 100s of gigabytes of photos, music and videos is most simply done now in the Cloud. Of course we’ll keep local back-ups, and use sync services so that we can still have our content on-hand as appropriate, but here’s how we’re storing/accessing things (this year!)

Movies and TV: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video — these three services have apps that work where we need them, and are well worth the small subscription cost.

Music: Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, Zune Pass — Amazon’s Cloud handily holds all the music we’ve ever bought, and provides a DRM-free marketplace for new songs. Pandora provides music discovery and while their apps aren’t great, the price (free) is right. Zune Pass (now XBox Music) is still my favorite way to listen to music-on-demand.

Books: Kindle rules. There’s never been any debate. We keep Amazon’s physical bookstore, as well as the library and the local used bookstore in business too.

Pictures: SkyDrive, Flickr — Microsoft SkyDrive is no Mesh, but for $20 a year it holds our 31GB of family photos and then some, and they’re doing a good job of ramping up app availability. Flickr still has a stream of recent photos for other devices, but we’re not paying for that over-priced, long-in-tooth service.

Documents: Dropbox, SkyDrive — Current and frequently accessed documents are in DropBox, due to our long investment in the service and the bulletproof nature of its syncing technology. SkyDrive holds archives and large files, but its really a shame we’ve never had to give DropBox any money.

Email/Calendering: Office365. We used Google Apps for a long time, but you just can’t beat Exchange.

As far as devices, we’re still a home full of random technology — we’d rather have a selection of different devices and teach them how to interact with our Cloud services, than invest too deeply into any one ecosystem. Here’s what we’re rocking:

Phones: Nic and I both have Nokia Lumia 900s, running Windows Phone 7.5 (soon 7.8, I hope!) which have the apps we need, rock-solid Exchange access, and a beautiful UI.

Computers: His and hers MacBooks. I have a MacBook Pro from work, Nic has an Air. We also have a Windows 7 laptop upstairs that will eventually get replaced with a Windows 8 touch machine of some kind.

Tablets: We each have Kindle Fire HDs, and the kids have some Kindle Fires. I have access to every tablet device out there through work, and I still prefer the Kindle. I don’t have a Paperwhite yet, but I want one!

Music players: We have a couple old Zune’s that get pressed into service during long trips, and no matter what you’ve been told, they rock. The kids have a beat up iPod Touch, which is handy for its video-out feature in the van.

TV: Roku, XBox 360, AppleTV. Roku’s are cheap, awesome and flexible. XBox360 has the best selection of video service apps and great games. And AppleTV’s AirPlay functionality is just awesome. Between these three we don’t miss cable (7 years plus!)

We pay for a good home internet connection, and data plans for both our phones, but even with that, and a few service subscriptions, what we have is way cheaper than cable (we pay in a year what some people pay per month) and it gives us complete freedom over when and where we consume or create content.

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