Beam Me Up a Movie, Scotty
And they might just get it.
MovieBeam is a new movies-on-demand service backed by The Walt Disney Company, Cisco Systems, Intel Capital (a venture capital arm of Intel Corporation), and a number of other venture capital firms. The MovieBeam system is designed to provide immediate access to 100 movies including "every new release and select popular favorites from virtually every major Hollywood studio" - with some of them in High Definition.
The system itself consists of a set-top box that stores and plays back movies with full playback functionality, a small indoor antenna that receives new movies via MovieBeam's over-the-air datacasting technology, and a remote control for navigating the user interface.
Thanks to an agreement with National Datacast, movies are delivered to MovieBeam players in 29 (currently) major metropolitan areas around the country by a datacasting signal that rides on top of each market's local PBS station's over-the-air broadcast signal.
The MovieBeam player includes a 160 GB hard drive and almost every A/V connection known to man, including HDMI, so it should work with virtually any home theater or solo-TV system. MovieBeam says the flexible system architecture and use of PC-compatible digital movie files will enable the service to be extended to other devices in the future. Built-in Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports will provide broadband connectivity later this year.
Each player comes pre-loaded with 100 movies with up to 10 movies updated weekly. MovieBeam says the player is easy to set up and does not require professional installation. An on-screen interface guides the user through the initial activation, after which any of the pre-loaded movies are instantly available to watch. Movie rental prices are $3.99 for new releases and $1.99 for library titles. There is a $1.00 premium for high-definition movies. Each rental covers a 24-hour viewing period during which you can watch the movie as many times as you can stand (well, there is a theoretical limit based on the length of the movie and the number of hours in a day). MovieBeam does not charge annual contracts or monthly subscription fees.
MovieBeam systems are being sold by the big chain stores, little chain stores, independent retailers, and on-line. You can see if service is available in your area on MovieBeam's website.
MovieBeam's 29 initial markets are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington D.C.