Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Cloud Computing Has Changed Media Devices

Teachers used to tell their students to get their heads out of the clouds during the busy school day, and employers always dread those employees who seem to have their heads in the clouds as well. The irony comes that due to today's increasingly digital world, the place you want your students and employees to be is "in the cloud". Of course, this refers to the digital cloud of computing. This is the "virtual" storage world where documents, media, movies and photos are all held in a server through a cloud-based computing facility, freeing up storage on media devices as well as allowing near instant access anywhere in the world to the documents and files.

These days it seems everyone is getting in on the "cloud" action. Apple with iTunes, and iCloud. Microsoft with Azure, and MS music (formerly Zune). Amazon with their cloud storage services for music, and pictures. Heck, even Newegg has a cloud service aimed at the consumer level. They entice you with a newegg coupon code for discounted rates to bring you in, and get you hooked. It seems like you can't get away from them. Clouds really are the future of media storage, and consumption. 

What does all this cloud activity adds up to? It means that it has truly changed the game with media devices such as smartphones, iPads and tablets, and laptop computers. One of the biggest changes is the ability to keep and store files in perpetuity without having them bog down or clog up valuable hard-drive space on the media devices. By uploading the old data and files into the cloud, the user gets access to it without having to store it on a personal hard-drive. This allows manufacturers to bring down the size, and weight of a device, which in turn brings down the cost of our favorite gadgets. 

Cloud-based computing has also changed the game for some media devices by usurping what used to be the job of your friendly neighborhood geek pal. This job is now the cloud-based computing service's responsibility. There is no need for complicated and demanding mass storage or networking permissions systems to be set up. With a simple uploading through Wi-Fi or Internet streaming, all data and files are shared and accessed on a variety of home media devices. No more panic attacks when your laptop hard drive crashes, or dreading data/music transfers to a new phone or tablet. Not only is everything within easy reach, via cloud storage, it is at a fraction of a cost of your old set up.

For families and friends, cloud services allow large video and photo transfers to take place without long up- and download times. This allows a mother to take a video or photo of her children with her camera phone, upload it to Facebook or Google+, and share it with Grandma and Grandpa for almost instant viewing. No more waiting for holiday gatherings to share home videos or photos. This brings families and friends together, even if they live across the country or globe. 

The biggest change is for those who love watching movies or TV on their media devices. Cloud systems allow instant streaming of enormous databases of cloud-stored shows and movies. This means access to huge media libraries, without even being home. Watching from home is getting easier too. With new "smart TVs" there is no need for complicated networking to get your PC hooked up to your TV. They come with built in WiFi, so just plug in your network password, and head out to your favorite cloud service like Amazon, or Netflix.  MP3s changed how we get, and listen to our music. I predict the same with happen with the DVD/Blu-ray market. Sony may have won the HD format war with their Blu-ray product, but they are already on their way to being extinct. Why would you buy a DVD/Blu-ray, when you can order a digital copy online, store it in a cloud service, watch it anywhere, and never have to worry about your kids damaging the disk?

These are just a few ways that cloud storage has change how we expect our latest media devices to work. How have cloud services change how you use your media devices?

My friend Eric Cedric is a technology lover and die hard Mac user. He recently switched over to cloud based storage and is using it as he continues his worldwide travels and adventures.

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