MovieBeam offers high-definition (HDTV) movie downloads

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MovieBeam offers high-definition (HDTV) movie downloads

MovieBeam plans on offering high-definition (HDTV) downloads. The video-on-demand movie service spun out of Walt Disney said it plans to offer first-run films from six of the seven film studios in standard digital-video format and high-definition films from Disney and Warner Bros. studios.

According to MovieBeam, some movies will even be made available at the same time as they come out on DVD. But here's my problem with this HDTV service - it requires yet another piece of home entertainment equipment to sit on top of your TV or entertainment system. My entertainment system is already crowded with a Denon 7.1 surround sound receiver, Denon amplifier for the rear surround channels, XBox, Toshiba DVD player, Linksys Media Extender, and VCR - not to mention a Sony Media Center 2005 PC sitting on top of one of my speakers. Many other bleeding-edge videophiles have even more components than I do, including TiVo, DirectTV receiver, etc. Who the hell is going to want to stack yet another ~$200 video component on the shelf? Sure, you could put it on top of the cable set-top box assuming your wife doesn't chew you out for making your home entertainment system look even more disorganized!

Anyway, the MovieBeam box, with capacity for 100 movies, is priced at around $200, after a rebate, and a $29 activation fee. It comes with an antenna to receive movie updates using what they call "datacasting" technology. Their "datacasting" technology doesn't even use the Internet to download movies. :( Yeah, that's right, they're using old-school over the "air waves" technology to transmit the HDTV movie to the box. That explains why it is initially offered in just 29 U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles - they require special localized transmitters to send the signal over the air waves. Heck, I have a 65" HDTV and I haven't even hooked up an HDTV antenna to receive local HDTV broadcasts and I'm supposed to buy MovieBeam just to get HDTV downloads? I can't believe they are putting out a release calling this HDTV downloading. That's a misnomer if I ever heard of one or at least extremely misleading. Most people would expect it to download over the Internet.

The MovieBeam film storage boxes will carry Cisco's Linksys consumer electronics label and be sold through U.S. electronics retailers Best Buy Co. Inc., CompUSA, and Sears.

Ironically, according to the Yahoo article, "MovieBeam, which was founded by Walt Disney four years ago, appeared to have run out of steam when Disney took a $24 million write-down on the company last summer. It was revived last month with a $48.5 million cash infusion from Disney, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO - news), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC - news) and three venture capital firms." My advice to Disney, Cisco/Linksys, and Intel? - I don't care how many billions you have earned - this is just stupid - you should have kept your money and let MovieBeam go under. This is a losing venture if I ever saw one. Now, if the cable companies partner with TiVo or start creating their own set-top boxes with hard drives, then they could very easily download pay-per-view HDTV over the coax connection to the device's hard drive. That makes a whole lot more sense than the MovieBeam business model. I'm a huge home entertainment gadgety kind-of-guy, but I'd rather spend the $200 on somethink else.

By the way, MovieLink and CinemaNow offer "near" HDTV quality movies for "true" download over the Internet, though their near HDTV offerings are pretty weak last I checked. (Actually CinemaNow does offer full HDTV quality videos, just remembered.) My guess is that NetFlix will eventually start offering HDTV downloads in the near future. Or at least, many people are "hoping" someone like NetFlix will come along and offer a decent HDTV download service.

p.s. MovieLink doesn't support Firefox? Look at this error: "Sorry, but in order to enjoy the Movielink service you must use Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher, which supports certain technologies we utilize for downloading movies. Click here to get the latest version of Internet Explorer. We do not support Mozilla or Netscape. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Un-friggin believable!



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