Thanks to the fiber optic connections that connect nearly 12 million of Japan's 48 million households, video rental giant Tsutaya is probably laughing at Netflix's silly set-top box as it launches its Tsutaya TV HD download-on-demand rental service. Based on the acTVila service (a joint venture supported by Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic), Sharp, Toshiba and Hitachi, movies can download directly to connected HDTVs. Transformers, Heroes, Lost and Desperate Housewives will be among the first titles available in a library expected to grow to 2,000 titles by year-end, targeting older customers between their 40s and 50s, as opposed to the company's main in-store customers in their 20s. Full-length flicks run 735 yen (about $7), with a 48-hour rental period. Sure would be nice to have a standard feature set for digital downloads on this side of the Pacific, our jealousy threat level is: high.

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