12/11/2006

MOVIES VIA XBOX AND WIMAX IN WELLINGTON

A couple more stories of mine from the Herald last week. No word yet on the availability of TV and movie content via Xbox Live for New Zealand customers but I'd be very wary before pressing "download" when it does arrive. That's because it may blow your monthly data cap out of the water in one fell swoop. You'll want to be on a high data cap to be downloading significantly through Xbox Live. That said, I think it could prove to be an impressive delivery vehicle for on-demand, high-definition content.

Movies with the Xbox factor
Thursday November 9, 2006
By Peter Griffin
New Zealand's first taste of high-definition TV might arrive courtesy of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console as the software giant prepares to send high-quality video down phone lines to subscribers.
Microsoft has struck deals with CBS, Warner Bros., Viacom, Paramount, UFC and Turner Broadcasting to offer TV programmes, movies and music videos for download through its Xbox Live service.
Users generally connect to Xbox Live to participate in multiplayer games, but Microsoft is keen to open up the Xbox to other uses before the release of Sony's Playstation 3, which is being pitched as an entertainment hub for the living room.
From November 22, Microsoft will make available for download in the United States high-definition versions of popular shows such as CSI and movies such as Superman Returns and V for Vendetta.
No details of content availability for New Zealand Xbox owners have been revealed.
"They'll roll it out in the US and go from there," a Microsoft official said.
The Xbox 360 may be the first medium for those equipped with broadband connections and high-definition TV screens to view programmes in the higher quality format.
The Freeview consortium plans to have free-to-air satellite digital TV available from early next year, but high-definition broadcasts are likely to be several years away.
Video-on-demand, where video is delivered over the broadband network on a pay-per-view basis, has been suggested as an alternative to digital television and Telecom is testing IPTV, which would see programming delivered over its copper line network to broadband subscribers.
Microsoft has yet to reveal pricing for the video download service. Movies would take up about 4GB (gigabytes) on the Xbox 360's hard drive, be displayed in the 720p HD format and be available for 24 hours after download.
TV shows will be available for permanent download.
The large downloads would prove troublesome to New Zealand broadband users who are mainly subscribers on plans that have data download caps at two, five or ten gigabytes. While the Xbox 360 is capable of displaying HD content, it did not ship with a HD-DVD drive to play discs carrying the content. An external drive will be made available for those wanting to watch HD-DVD movies.
Sony will include a high-defintion drive in its Playstation 3, which goes on sale for Christmas in the US. They will not be available in New Zealand until March.

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