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Download excerpts from Fifth Gear motoring show
Tuesday 22 March 2005 16:58:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Good quality video sourced in the UK can sometimes be difficult to find, Channel Five is doing its bit to increase the amount of content available. This week saw the start of a new download service allowing you to download 'DVD quality' car reviews from their motoring magazine show Fifth Gear. The videos will normally cost £1.50, but several free clips are available so the curious user can see what is on offer. The site with the free videos and links to buy others is here.

The free clips run at a resolution of 768 by 432 pixels, and are encoded with a bit rate of 1363kbps (1.3Mbps) (NOTE: Connections slower than 1.3Mbps can still download the files). You will need Windows Media Player 10 to play the files which are encoded in the WMV format. The free clips we have downloaded do look to be good quality, while not DVD quality they approach it. Three minutes of video footage equates to around a 25MB download. The advantage of downloading high bit rate material is that once downloaded you can play it locally and avoid any frame drops due to Internet congestion.

We are likely to see more pay per view/download type things like this, though whether people are willing to pay £1.50 for a short video clip only time will tell. Though we already see people pay similar amounts for much lower quality content on mobile phones. One other aspect that high resolution video downloads will reveal is how good a connection the site hosting the content has, with six million broadband users in the UK, it is all to easy to swamp a site.

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