I've been using Netflix to rent movies by mail, which is okay, but with high-speed connections so common now, why can't I just download movies I want to watch from the Internet?
Downloading Movies at Home
Who says you can't? Maybe Blockbuster and Netflix don't offer online movie downloads (yet), but there are several places online where you can keep up with the Hollywood hustle without ever leaving home. Due to the large file sizes (approximately 500-800MB for downloads) and bandwidth requirements for streaming video, you'll need plenty of hard drive space and a DSL or cable modem connection.
And in addition to space and speed limitations, there are also copyright and legal issues. But here are some sites where you can legally download movies without breaking the bank...
- CinemaNow charges $9.95 monthly for access to thousands of titles, but this doesn't cover recently released movies. To download newer movies, a subscription isn't necessary -- you just pay a flat fee per title. You can choose to download movies or watch streaming video. Downloading takes longer yet is better viewing quality. But if you're in a rush to view the movie, you can start streaming video within 30 seconds of the download.
- MovieFlix is the only service that is compatible with both Mac and Windows computing platforms, as the others are Windows-only services. You can register for the free basic service, which gives you access to older movies and television shows, yet streaming is the only option. A MovieFlix Plus membership costs $7.95 a month and gives you access to the full movie library of over 4,000 titles.
- MovieLink is an online movie service that allows you to "rent" or purchase your videos. Rentals can be stored on your hard drive for up to 30 days and watched during any 24-hour period, which is a nice option of you're travelling with a laptop. New releases are about five dollars per movie. Older movies are two dollars and students with an id get a 25% discount.
- STARZ! Ticket costs $12.95 per month for selection of several hundred movies combining recent and old titles. Subscription to STARZ! Ticket also includes a streaming feed of the STARZ! Cable channel.
- Netflix, the popular mail order movie rental service, has begun to roll out a new service called Watch Now, which gives customers one hour of online video for every dollar spent on monthly service. If you spend $15 a month for the Netflix-by-mail service, you get 15 hours of free online video watching. The interesting part is that you can watch bits and pieces of different titles if you like. Watch only your favorite parts of a favorite movie, preview a title, or watch the last half of a show you missed on TV. The downside is that this is web-based, so you have to watch on your computer screen. Netflix will be making the new feature available to subscribers in a phased roll-out over the first half of 2007.
All you need to play movie downloads is a player such as the Windows Media Player, Real Player or iTunes. You may need to download some additional software, but your player should walk you through the process with a few clicks.
Other Movie Download Options
BitTorrent (see Downloading With Bittorrent) is a peer-to-peer file sharing program. Users browse the web to find a file of interest, then download it with a Bit Torrent client program. The benefit is that it provides a fast, efficient means of distributing large audio and video files on the web. The downside: downloading copyrighted materials is illegal, and the entertainment industry is taking aggresive steps to detect and punish online video piracy.
Limewire (see What is Limewire File Sharing?)is another free file sharing program. Limewire will run on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms, and although the software itself is perfectly legal, the same legal caveats apply to any copyrighted materials you download.
YouTube (see What is YouTube?) and Google Video both use Flash video to play movies on their site. This makes it a little difficult to download the videos to your computer, but there are some tools like KeepVid and SaveTube that make it pretty simple.
Got comments on downloading movies? Post your thoughts below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 14 Feb 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Download Movies (Posted: 14 Feb 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved