XBOX 360 as a High-Def Movie Hub?

by on November 3, 2006

Here’s what I’ve been waiting for since the day I bought my Microsoft XBOX 360. If these rumors are true, Microsoft could soon be making downloadable high-definition movies available via its XBOX Live / XBOX Marketplace service. You’ll need a pretty fast Internet connection, of course, but luckily I do via Verizon’s outstanding FIOS (fiber) service. I currently download all sorts of HD movie trailers and game demos via the XBOX Marketplace and they look great and work perfectly. I can just leave my XBOX running overnight and order up a bunch of content and it’s all sitting there when I wake up in the morning. Or I can just download that content while I’m playing games and the system notifies me once the clips and demos have finished downloading.

So, it’s only natural that Microsoft would want to take the next step and allow users to download entire movies at some point. This would be a welcome alternative to the somewhat cumbersome MovieLink and CinemaNow systems that I’ve looked into. They don’t have much HD material on their services.

Microsoft will also be willing to work with the studios to ensure secure delivery and proper compensation, so I don’t see any copyright concerns here. Importantly, however, the XBOX 360 does not have HDMI or DVI digital outputs, only analog component video connections. Consequently, some users are still concerned that studios might down-res HD video content in the future via the “image contraint token” copy protection scheme. So far the studios have not felt the need to do that, however. But they might in the future if illegal redistribution of copyrighted content becomes a bigger concern. Right now, it’s just too hard to pirates to move big high-def files around on current generation networks, so it’s not a big deal yet. Read this story for more details.

Regardless, I hope Microsoft makes this happen, and soon. I have already pre-ordered Microsoft’s upcoming HD-DVD sidecar ($199) from Amazon and it is due to be delivered in a few weeks. It will play next-generation movies of the HD-DVD format, but that still doesn’t give me a Blu-Ray solution. So, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to download all my HD movies via my XBOX Live connection in the future instead of having to purchase a Blu-Ray player.

Now it looks like I’ll next need to go buy that rumored 100GB hard drive for the XBOX if MS makes it! That 20-gig drive I’ve got now won’t be able to hold too many HD movie downloads.

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