This may sound a bit familiar to those paying close attention, but on November 22nd -- the year anniversary for the Xbox 360 -- Microsoft is announcing something fairly momentus, not for the gaming community, but for the CE industry. The Xbox 360, along with Akimbo, will be among the first mass-market devices able to download high def television programs -- and the first we know of in the states able to download HD movies. The service is called Xbox Live Video, and the fall update enables customers to spend their Microsoft points on standard and HD television from CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Turner, and UFC, as well as HD movies from Warner Bros., Paramount, and so on. We're still a little in shock, ourselves, that Microsoft was able to in one fell swoop hit TiVo, Apple, Netflix, and a handful of others, but looking at Live over the last year, the move isn't that massively surprising. Of course, not even the vision of on-demand HD movies and TV downloads in six million homes at the flick of a switch could be without its variety of niggling concerns; being that we all know the devil's in the details, click on to get the particulars of the service.
Microsoft has not yet disclosed pricing for downloads, but it will be in Microsoft points.
Movies will be "rental" only, TV for "purchase" only.
At launch there will be over 800 hours of SDTV, and 200 hours of HDTV.
Neither TV nor movies are streamed; they are only downloaded, although you can stream short preview clips from the Live interface.
You can only download content to your Xbox 360 drive -- not to an external drive.
Your "purchased" TV programs can be downloaded an infinite amount of times to an infinite amount of consoles; you may also play them back on friends' 360s with your removable drive.
Deleted TV shows can be re-downloaded later; HDTV shows can be re-downloaded in either HDTV or SD.
Movies can be watched an unlimited number of times the first 24 hours. Plays after that period will cost the same as the initial download, although the movie data isn't necessarily deleted. You can keep the movie data on your drive up to 14 days without re-downloading it.
Downloads are in VC-1 (aka WMVHD) at 720p, 6.8Mbps video with 5.1 surround.
An average HD movie download should be between 4-5GB, and a two hour SD movie would be 1.6GB.
An average 1 hour (44 min) HDTV download should be about 2.2GB, and an average 1/2 hour (22 min) HDTV download should be about 1GB. A 1 hour SDTV download should be about 600MB, and a 1/2 hour SDTV download should be about 300MB.
This service will not be available for MSN TV users, Vongo subscribers, or any other Microsoft partners. It is Xbox Live only.
You cannot download programs through the Xbox Live web interface -- they can only be transported to your 360's removable drive.
There aren't any drive announcements being made, so if your puny 20GB Xbox drive is near or at capacity, you're out of luck, kid.
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