They never used data as a VCR out of respect for him as a person. Ooops sorry to any youngsters, DVR, better?
This doesn't really add up, though. If he had objected to the use of his unique abilities, then respect might be a consideration. But he offered his physical strength and intelligence freely. The time he connected himself to Locutus, or willingly allowed his body to be used by another intelligence like the nanites, he risked himself in ways the rest of the crew fundamentally couldn't, simply to allow his unique abilities as an android to be used for the mission.
He allowed himself to be disassembled, connected to all manner of strange devices, he was used as a battering ram and a calculator, even at one point allowed a non trivial part of his mind to be used to help run the ship. It's kind of odd that after all that free use of his unique abilities, he or the crew asking this of him would draw the line at visual playback.
I agree that it's a peculiar omission. And the "product of its times" justification, while usually very applicable to Trek, doesn't really hold here: first, the novel in question was first published in 2004, which is not that long ago, and second, even back in 1987 (when TNG premiered) we had the main villain of Robocop (played by Ronnie "Captain Jellico" Cox) chewing out his hired thug for failing to consider that the titular cyborg's memory and/or video playback is admissible as court evidence.
I suspect the real answer comes down to "but then there wouldn't be a story." :p
Simple, text and audio files take up less storage space than color video files. It could simply be a case of Soong deciding to make sacrifices to ensure the Data works for an extended period of time.
I can record 1080p HD at 24Mbps on my camera and that would fill up a 64GB drive in 6 hours. So you are looking at 256GB per day and ~93TB per year. So unless Data has a 10 petabyte drive in his skull, he'll eventually run out of memory.
And that's at 1080p. I would imagine the eyes Soong put in are more around 8K quality.
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Last edited by commadorebob; 08-20-2012 at 02:58 PM.