Apple Unveils HD Movies Via iTunes, Cheap

Dennis Faas's picture

Just in case you aren't satisfied with downloading regular old standard definition movies from Apple's iTunes, keep your chin up: the Cupertino-based company is now offering HD flicks through its popular online store, and for pretty reasonable prices, too.

For most of us eyeing Sony, Samsung, or Magnavox Blu-ray players, the problem thus far has been price. Most of those players range from $200 to $500 -- too much for the average movie fan even though the price has come down significantly since HD-DVD dropped off the face of the earth. In addition, Blu-ray movies are pretty steep themselves, with most costing around $30 or more.

Thankfully, there's now an alternative to renting or buying a physical HD disc from Blockbuster or Best Buy. Customers with iTunes can now download HD movies for keeps for about $19.99, with rentals costing about one-quarter of that price, $4.99. Both options will offer movies compatible with both PCs and Apple's Mac series. Apple is even offering a standard-definition copy of the purchased/rented movie for those who own iPhones and iPods; unfortunately, these popular handhelds can't handle HD movies.

"50 percent of TV programming... purchased in HD"

Eddy Cue, Apple's VP of Internet Services, believes it was only a matter of time before HD movies followed already existing HD TV content. "Customers have made HD content on iTunes a hit, with over 50 percent of TV programming being purchased in HD when available," Cue said. (Source:

There are drawbacks, but many of us might not notice them. For one, rentals won't be available until about a month after their original DVD release. Second, the files are big, making for long download times while taking up a hulking chunk of hard drive space. Finally, Apple's downloads tend to use more compression than Blu-ray, which could mean slightly lower quality.

In order to use the service, users will need to do two important things: 1) download the new iTunes 8.1 and 2) get themselves a PC or Mac capable of running HD movies smoothly. (Source:

For those of you who still don't like the idea of downloading to a computer, can't afford a Blu-ray player, but already have an Xbox 360, Microsoft's Live service also offers similar HD downloads to its popular console.

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