After a short period of testing BT Vision is now offering HD downloads to all its customers. DigitalSpy has some more of the details, prices start at £2.95 for a 24 hour rental. New releases cost £4.95, with the BT website providing more information on how to access the HD content.
The HD material is a download rather than a stream, so if you want to watch a film you will have to wait for it to be downloaded to the set-top box. The films are believed to be around 8GB in size. An 8GB file on a 2Mbps connection will take around 9 hours to download, it is thought that the rental period does not start until you play the movie, so it seems best thing is to start a download just before going to bed, or when leaving for work so it is ready to view that evening.
Interestingly the films are encoded at 1080i with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, so should be significantly better than normal TV. The service will be competing with DVD and Blu-ray rental services, downloads will struggle to compete with popping down the road to the nearest video store in terms of time to have the film in your hands, but then if its a popular film they may not have it in stock, plus there is the cost of getting there, parking etc.