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Movie Download Services: The Nitty Gritty

  • Price – Ranging anywhere from $10-$20, the irony is downloading movies legally isn’t cheap. In order to appease the retailers who make big bucks on DVDs released in stores, the online downloading services are keeping their fees in the clouds. Which of course, doesn’t hurt their pocketbook, either.
  • Availability – It depends. Different services have different deals with different movie studios. As for old movies, those are being added all the time. But the nice thing is, if they have it, you can get it – instantly.
  • Space – You will need between 1200 and 2000 MBs of free space to store your movie. Depending on your system, this may be a lot or a little. Some services may allow you to burn your download to a DVD, but only if you’re buying the movie and even then, most won’t.
  • Download Time – This is no time for dial-up, that’s for sure. Anything DSL and faster should get you your movie in under an hour with an average of 35 to 40 minutes, and that’s if you want it fast and grainy. If you’re willing to wait a little longer, say, up to two hours, you can download a higher quality version. A nice feature that some services offer is the ability to start watching the movie while it’s still downloading.
  • Technical Requirements – At least Windows Media Player 10, fast Internet connection, Internet Explorer 6.0, Windows XP. You might be able to get away with older versions, but it isn’t recommended. And yes, did you note – it’s all PC and no Mac. That’s right. PC users only, please.
  • Computer Viewing Only – Currently, that’s the state of things. That is, unless you choose a service that allows you to download it to some other electronic handheld device of your choosing, like PSP or iPod. Of course, you could always use an S-video jack to hook your computer to your TV and watch it on the big screen. Some services allow limited DVD burning, but they may restrict the DVD to playing only in the computer to which the movie was downloaded, allowing your fancy DVD player to gather dust.
  • Buy Versus Rent – It’s a strange situation at this point, but different studios offer different services different licenses to different movies. So, you may only be able to rent a title through one service that another is offering for sale. Other services may not have any access to certain titles while others do. There’s no standard just yet, so it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

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