High Definition Movie Downloads

So you've got HD satellite receivers from VOOM, DIRECTV, and Dish Network plus an HD cable box from your local cable provider, not to mention the biggest, baddest terrestrial antenna sprouting from your roof so you can pick up every local, terrestrial HD broadcast, but you still can't get enough HD content to watch. Now what?

Thanks to Bill Gates and the hard work of the people at CinemaNow Inc., you can now download high-definition movies in Windows Media High-Definition format for playback on your Windows XP-based PC. (Eat digital dust, you silly Macintosh users. And you thought QuickTime was so cool...1) CinemaNow claims that the availability of their new service "marks the first broad adoption of mainstream High-definition movies being made available on-demand via the Internet."

Don't imagine that you'll be able to surf right over and gorge yourself on a glut of first-run HD movies, though. The first titles to be released are MacGillivray Freeman Films' giant-screen IMAX films thanks to a deal made by CinemaNow with Image Entertainment. Among the first titles will be "Coral Reef Adventure," a film originally created for exhibition in IMAX theaters and voted the "Best IMAX Theater Film of 2003" by members of the Giant Screen Theater Association. (Yes, there really is such a thing.) Not surprisingly, "Coral Reef Adventure" was one of the most successful films in the large format medium ever to be released. (How that IMAX experience will translate to your puny 17-inch computer monitor is another matter. Now don't you wish you'd have ponied up the extra cash for that bigger screen?)

In addition to "Coral Reef Adventure", the following films are also currently available in HD from CinemaNow:

  • Amazon
  • Discoverers
  • Dolphins
  • Journey Into Amazing Caves
  • The Living Sea
  • Magic of Flight
  • Speed
  • To the Limit
(Interestingly enough, "Amazon" is actually about a river somewhere in South America rather than a gripping look at the inner workings of the popular on-line retailer billing itself as having "Earth's Biggest Selection". Equally surprising, "To the Limit" is not a scathing expose on actual cable vs. DSL upload/download speeds but rather a look at "the spectacular feats performed by three athletes - a rock climber, an Olympic skiier, and a prima ballerina..." involving "the use of endoscopic photography while witnessing the complex process behind an athlete's greatest physical acheivements.")

CinemaNow's entire selection of regular-resolution movies are available as individual pay-per-view downloads (or streams) or as part of a subscription package. All of the above-mentioned HD titles are available on a "download-to-own" basis with each title running approximately 40 minutes and costing $19.99.

The Windows Media Video HD format provides a video resolution of 720p. CinemaNow's HD movies will be encoded at up to 10 Mbps and will include 5.1-channel surround sound audio.

1Hey, lighten up. It's a joke. QuickTime is cool, and I use my Mac everyday. So don't bother writing any nasty complaint letters, okay?