The best player for movie downloads on the market: the Xbox 360, according to a story in today’s New York Times tech section.
From setup to signup, to selecting a title and starting the show with a press of the remote’s play button, the Xbox 360 is simple. It is as easy to use as the on-demand and pay-per-view services familiar to most watchers of cable or satellite TV. … But at $400 for the model that includes a hard disk, which is needed to download movies, the Xbox is a big investment. If you aren’t a gamer, it is hard to justify spending that amount just to watch a few movies.
Writer Joe Hutsko notes that Xbox Live has 165 titles available for “rental.” A Microsoft spokesman vows there would be at least a title every day added to the service. The Xbox 360 elite, due this winter with its 120-gig hard drive, will make more video-related activities possible.
The story is pretty basic but a decent roundup of movie download options. It goes through the alternatives — the usual suspects such as MovieLink, CinemaNow, Vongo, the Unbox and the only Mac-friendly system, Apple TV.
There are scores of alternatives, but at this stage the movie selection is a factor for each one. Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, said: “Whether it’s Netflix or Apple or Amazon or Wal-Mart.com, we’re all facing the same constraint: title availability.”
Not mentioned is the other advantage to the Xbox 360: its ability to play HD DVD movies. The format is on the run from Blu-ray, but this should be handy for a couple of more years anyway. The add-on HD DVD player, which I own, is cheap in all respects, but once you get it going, the high-definition magic does its thing.