November 13, 2005
These days the video-enabled iPod gets all the news, as well as the deals various companies have swung (Central Park Media has released assorted anime episodes and previews as free QuickTime downloads; Frederator Studios has started Channel Frederator, a podcast of original shorts). However, there's another player that's been quietly lurking behind the scenes. EZTakes provides DVD content you can order, download and burn yourself to play on any DVD player. (Clearly this is for people who either have broadband or are very, very patient.)
Most of the content is cheap, some is free. The service also includes animation. I downloaded a free DVD of four Fleischer Superman shorts, and compared The Mechanical Monsters to my WinStar Home Entertainment version. The EZTakes version is just barely sharper, and MPEG artifacts are noticeable if you look for them; and it lacks the audio enhancements and extras that the WinStar DVD has (as well as all the other shorts). But you can't beat the price and the near-immediate gratification. If you've never seen a Fleischer Superman short, all you need is a little time, a few gigs of drive space and a Windows machine (because, I suppose, Mac and Linux people don't want to download movies).
EZTakes' selection is pretty sparse overall, and the animation section has only four titles: the Superman shorts, Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels feature, Paul Grimault's The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird, and Jiří Trnka's The Emperor's Nightingale. But it might be worth keeping an eye on the site. A little site called eMusic had a similarly small selection when it first started out, and it's since evolved into my favorite location for music downloads just a shade out of the mainstream. If EZTakes is similarly successful in building relationships, they could be serious contenders.