The Sony PS3 Network has now added a movie store, and while not the first console to offer full films it perhaps offers the largest files. The store can be previewed at videostore.uk.playstation.com and carries films in both SD and HD formats from twelve film studios.
The films are around 2GB in size for SD quality, with HD films weighing in at around 9GB. Prices range from £2.49 to £3.49 and whilst the rental allows you to keep a film for 14 days on the console, it will expire within 48 hours from when you first started watching it. Purchases appear to range from £6.99 to £11.99.
The HD service would just not have worked in 2000, when a HD film at the quality level Sony is using would have taken almost 2 days to download over a '0.5 meg' service; even today it will take around five to six hours on a line that can support '4 meg' downloads, and that's ignoring any peak time congestion. In an ideal world you would want to be able to download the film in about the time it would take to drive to the nearest DVD rental store and get back home, making a strong case for '20 meg' and '50 meg' broadband services. Currently in the UK apart from a few apartment blocks with fibre/Ethernet, maybe 5 to 10% of ADSL2+ users, and Virgin Media XL and XXL customers, quick downloads of HD film are fantasy.
To encourage people to try out the new service, Sony is offering the Transformers movie for download to those registering a Playstation Network account on a new Sony PS3 until 30th November. Existing network users, can buy Angels and Demons and get a voucher for The DaVinci Code.
The Christmas period could prove very interesting this year, as with the schools on holiday and probably many firms taking extended holidays there may be lots of people at home playing games, watching movies or using the various free streaming services on the games consoles. At least by using downloads, while it might be frustrating to wait for a download to complete, it does play content as a download rather than streaming it, so buffering is not an issue. (You can enjoy buffering if you want to, by electing to play the video while it is still downloading). Also the PS3 is not tied into only downloading a film; background downloads are supported, but we do not recommend trying any online gaming with a large download underway.