iTunes Movie Rentals

Hooray, just a year after iTunes movie purchases and rentals came to the US, they are now available in the UK.

The deal is fairly simple – You can buy a ‘chart’ movie for £10.99, or rent for £3.49, or for a classic movie the prices are £6.99 and £2.49 to rent.  You can also rent HD versions of films for Apple TV with a £1 premium.

For rentals, you have thirty days to watch the film, but once you start watching you have just 48 hours to finish watching it.  I think it is this which turn out to be be the greatest restriction, something which Apple can very easily turn off.  At the moment with my Amazon DVD rental I pay just £2 for each rental, and I can keep the film as long as I like and watch it as many times in that time (or lend to a friend to watch and then return back on my behalf).

Physical DVD rental by post is not without it’s problems.  I’ve had one or two DVD’s go missing both from the warehouse, and sending them back, but overall it’s a system which works for me.

But never one to shun new technology, I’ve just rented ‘Dodgeball’ for £2.49.  This is where the real problem starts for me on my ‘piece of soggy string’ broadband connection.

The movie is one hour thirty minutes long, just over a Gigabyte in size, and will take an estimated five hours to download over my broadband internet connection – assuming I don’t use my internet connection for anything else.

That’s a long time, and a long way from the ‘instant gratification’ promised by movie downloads.  Imagine the typical scene, Saturday night, Doctor Who has finished so there’s nothing on tv, there’s nothing on Sky Box Office that you want to watch, so you decide to rent a movie from the iTunes store.

In my house assuming a 7pm start, it would therefore be ready at midnight, just after Match of the Day highlights.

Only if you have the national average of 3.2 Mbits/s, (6.25 times the speed I get, grrr) does this become feasible, my back of envelope (well ok, calculator in Spotlight) seems to indicate that it will take about 50 minutes to download the movie – an acceptable alternative to driving to the nearest Blockbuster (if you can find one!) to rent a movie.

But I do think things are changing, and whilst it may be a while before I get faster broadband, the new voluntary code may offer some help.

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