Sony is crap

February 29, 2008

They might make some nice audio and visual hardware and they might serve up a fine selection of entertainment, but Sony drops the ball repeatedly and offensively when it comes to the issue of digital rights management.

I shared the description of the incident that has caused my latest ire with Sony with some friends at lunch. To a man, Jay, Drew and the new guy agreed that I should refrain from telling the whole tale again to anyone who wasn’t medicated. So here’s the Cliff Notes’ version.

I save movies and television programs to my DVR or Tivo. I sometimes save so many movies on the hard drive that it fills up and leaves precious little room for Knight Rider, Scrubs, Numb3rs or How to Look Good Naked. When that happens I quickly grab a DVD-R and burn some of this entertainment to a disc for later viewing.

That WAS my pattern up until the middle of last week. That’s when my Panasonic DVD recorder had something like this go on inside its guts…

So, with some gift cards I had kicking around from my birthday and the holidays I went to Circuit City and purchased a shiny new Sony DVD recorder.

It was inexpensive, extremely versatile and really shiny. In all its black glory, not unlike our African-American potential president Barak Obama, this new toy made me proud to live in a consumer-focused society.

But that’s where the idyllic scenario went off the rails. Sony must have decided somewhere along the way that people are too dumb or too untrustworthy to back up programs and movies for either archiving or watching later. They probably think that if they copy-protect their content then everyone will obey the rules and nobody will steal movies, music or other content.

They’re wrong.

Oh, wait. Here’s the nutshell of what happened and then I’ll give you the crux of this argument against copy protection.

I easily installed the DVD recorder and promptly went to the ‘My DVR’ section of the Comcast box and chose a movie to save to DVD.

I tossed a disk in the Sony and pressed record. About three seconds went by and then a large box appeared on the screen telling me that Sony does not allow the burning of protected content. That’s all. Nowhere in the documentation or the box or from the sales staff at Circuit City did I hear of this limitation.

After jumping online I found that Sony is pretty much the only manufacturer that imposes this limitation on its customers. So I promptly yanked all the cables out, tossed the DVD recorder in the box with the receipt and returned it to the store.

Now the crux (by the way, I ended up buying a Phillips DVD recorder that has gotten rave reviews and is $30 cheaper than the Sony).

Sony THINKS that if it blocks copying of content it will eliminate this practice. They’re incorrect. By blocking content they have lost me as a customer FOREVER and they have made me more determined to screw them every chance I get.

I’m even tempted to go to Circuit City and buy all the Sony units and then save them for 28 days and then return them. And do that repeatedly every month for a year. That way the returns to Sony will be enormous and I will single-handedly drive the company out of business.

The trouble is that Circuit City is on its last legs right now and I have a $100 gift card to use, so I can’t put my Sony plan into effect just yet.

More to come…