VUDU to start offering HD movies to buy, not just rent

Vudu has been streaming for over a year now, and it's a pretty nice service (just ask our own Gadget Gary Del'Abate). Get the Vudu box (now available in rack-mountable flavors for home theater buffs with a big gear closet), hook it up, and watch your favorite movies for a price. You can simply rent and stream the movies, or buy and download them to the Vudu's 250GB-to-1TB hard drive. Unfortunately, until now you could only buy and download standard definition movies. HD movies were only available to rent, and once the rental period was over, they fluttered back off into cyberspace. That's finally starting to change.

Starting today, Vudu users can finally purchase and download HD movies. For $14 to $24 apiece (price varies by movie), you can buy and download high-definition films in 1080p/24. It's a bit steep, but still cheaper than many Blu-ray releases on the market. Since these movies consume much more space than standard-def movies, users will have a choice between storing purchased HD movies locally on their Vudu box, or online in the "Vudu Vault," which records and tracks purchases so you can stream and watch the movies at any time.

Currently, Vudu only has 50 HD films available for purchase, including Academy Award winner Man on Wire. This selection is miniscule compared to the 1,400 HD movies Vudu offers for rent, but the company is working on expanding its library. You might not be able to buy blockbusters from them just yet, you want some high-def indie flicks from studios like FirstLook, Kino, and Magnolia, Vudu might have what you want.

- Will Greenwald