Movie download services bypass discs

Thu Apr 3, 2008 3:19pm EDT
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By Scott Hillis

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Forget DVDs. Several services now let you download movies and play them right on your TV -- no disc needed.

These virtual video stores promise near-instant delivery of hundreds of movies, including many in glorious high-definition, all ordered up from the comfort of your couch.

Well, it's almost that easy. The services require you to shell out several hundred dollars for special hardware first; they also demand a bit of set-up, and rely on a fast Internet connection.

"Now there is sort of this battle for what the next generation of device is going to look like, and for some people that device is not really based on optical disks but is optimized for downloads," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research.

"There are lots of merits but the question is how much content can we get on these devices?"

If you're someone who sees Apple as a lifestyle, you're probably aware of Apple TV, the latest multimedia product from the folks who brought you the iPod and iPhone.

Apple TV went on sale a year ago, but it only acted as a bridge for video and music to cross the gap between your computer and television. Sluggish sales led to Apple founder Steve Jobs taking the wraps off "Take Two" in January.

The upgrade unshackles Apple TV from the computer and allows users to browse Apple's iTunes online store directly on a TV set. The addition of rentals quelled complaints about the previous buy-only service.   Continued...

<p>An Apple TV device is seen in an undated image. REUTERS/Apple/Handout</p>