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Sony announced last week that they have launched the company's new video delivery service on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3 and PSP (PlayStation Portable) game systems.
The new service makes available 300 full length movies and more than 1,200 TV episodes, many available in both standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD). I haven't seen the quality and selection for myself yet, but the press release (included below) mentions such as movies as 20th Century Fox's Jumper, Lionsgate's 3:10 to Yuma, MGM's Rocky, Paramount Pictures' Cloverfield, Sony Pictures' Spider-Man, and Warner Bros. Entertainment's 10,000 B.C. as being available for sale and Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is also available for rent.
You are able to rent and purchase movies from 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Entertainment, but it appears that movies can only be rented from The Walt Disney Studios.
Rentals will be priced from $2.99 to $5.99 and you will have 14 days to watch what you have downloaded, and once you start watching, you have 24 hours to finish before it vanishes into virtual thin air. Purchases will be priced from $9.99 to $14.99, according to the release. Indeed, I just received an E-Mail from Sony this week advertising Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story for a $3.99 rental and The Bank Job for a $14.99 purchase.
The PSP comes into play in all of this as a portable movie player that can accept the movies downloaded to your PS3 so you can take The Bank Job on the run and watch your favorite scenes while you commute to work or are between classes, depending on your life situation.
With the advent of movie downloads being available in the living rooms of millions of PlayStation 3 owners, it makes me wonder how this news will impact the Blu-ray format. While I am certain that the audio and video quality of these downloads will not compare to that possible on high definition Blu-ray discs, I am concerned that the general public will choose convenience over quality, much as they have in the music world, where CD's are fast becoming artifacts of a bygone era.
Pandora's Box has been opened and time will tell whether this is a good thing or not. I myself look forward to the ability to download TV shows in HD most of all. If I've missed an episode of CSI, I'd like to be able to download it in HD and enjoy it on the same system as if my DVR had recorded it. That's not too much to ask, but I'll have to see if that wish is granted!
2008-07-25 Update about Sound Formats, Aspect Ratios, and Running Times
According to this article over on EngadgetHD, the HD downloads from Sony's video store are stereo sound only. The details page for each movie is missing some rather important information, including sound format and aspect ratio, and I guess this is why. Some reports in the comments on that article are saying that 5.1 is available for some movies, so I'll have to dig into it more deeply. A series of screenshots over on PS3 Fanboy show that at least one HD download (an anime rental) has 5.1 channel AAC sound at a very DVD-like 384kbps. The captions in that series also mentions that an SD movie they downloaded was cropped to 1.78:1.
When perusing the Playstation Store, I found that the running times of some of the movies are also suspect. For example, Dances with Wolves was released in theaters with a running time of 180 minutes, but the downloadable version on the Playstation Store was only 118 minutes. Maybe that was a typo when someone was filling in the information that for that movie, but if that running time is accurate, what in the world could they have cut out to remove over an hour of content? Given the fact that Sony will not issue refunds on purchases, I am very hesitant to spend money on movies that might be cropped, in stereo, and edited for length. It's like watching movies on TBS, and I don't do that!
I doubt that most people would be willing to watch a movie in stereo when they have a system capable of up to 7.1 channels. Stereo is fine for downloading a movie to your iPod or PSP, but it doesn't cut it at home. Cropping to 1.78:1 isn't necessary or welcome, and editing the running time on movies is probably the worst offense of them all.
C'mon Sony, get with the program!
PLAYSTATION(R)Network's Video Delivery Service to Offer Movies and TV Shows for Purchase and Rental Through PLAYSTATION(R)3 and PSP(R) (Playstation(R)Portable)
New service to expand entertainment offering of PLAYSTATION 3 and PSP giving consumers downloadable content when and where they want it
FOSTER CITY, Calif., July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) today launches the company's new video delivery service on PLAYSTATION(R)Store for PLAYSTATION(R)3 (PS3(TM)) and PSP(R) (PlayStation(R)Portable) systems in the United States. Consumers will have the ability to download full-length movies, television shows, and original programming accessible through the PLAYSTATION Store on PLAYSTATION(R)Network. With nearly 300 full length movies and more than 1,200 TV episodes, many available in both standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD), PLAYSTATION Network's video delivery service makes PS3 the ultimate entertainment platform and enhances PSP's status as a portable entertainment marvel. PLAYSTATION Network's video delivery service will become available later this evening.
Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) will initially make available to consumers content for video rental and electronic sell-through from top movie studios including: 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment as well as titles for rent from The Walt Disney Studios and a wide-ranging menu of popular titles from a variety of television partners.
"PLAYSTATION Network's video delivery service capitalizes on the superior value and entertainment potential of PS3 and PSP -- not only for gaming enthusiasts, but also for the millions of consumers looking to buy the best, most versatile solution for their home entertainment system," said Jack Tretton, president and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment America. "The collaboration of Sony's film, TV and entertainment business units, coupled with our hardware and content offerings, provide consumers with entertainment experiences unlike any on the market."
The video delivery service will have full integration in the PLAYSTATION Network, utilizing the same login, wallet management, and user interface of the newly revamped PLAYSTATION Store. Video will be categorized, for example, by top rating, alphabetical order, television shows, and movies and content is also fully searchable, for example, by title, producer, studio and cast. In addition, PS3's progressive downloading means users can view content shortly after the downloading process begins. Background downloading is also a feature of PS3, allowing users to access other platform features such as gaming and other XMB(TM) (XrossMediaBar) content while a video is downloading to their consoles.
20th Century Fox's "Jumper", Lionsgate's "3:10 to Yuma", MGM's "Rocky", Paramount Pictures' "Cloverfield", Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man", and Warner Bros. Entertainment's "10,000 B.C." are a few of the titles available for electronic sell-through on the video service at launch. Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" will also be available for rent. Additionally, SCEI will be introducing original exclusive content such as Xam'd: Lost Memories, an anime series developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, delivered in SD and HD.
Consumers who rent a movie from the video delivery service have 14 days to watch the content. Once content playback is started, consumers have a full 24 hours to enjoy their rental. Pricing for rental movies at launch ranges from $2.99 to $5.99, and pricing for purchased movies ranges from $9.99 to $14.99. Sony has also adopted Marlin Digital Rights Management technology, an open industry standard for protecting and managing digital content, to provide consumers with flexible access to their content while ensuring digital rights are protected. Usage rules of the video download service will allow content for purchase to be shared on multiple activated devices including PS3 and PSP systems per PLAYSTATION Network account, depending on the type of content purchased by the user.
One of the biggest value propositions of PLAYSTATION Network's video delivery service is the ability to transfer digital content onto the PSP from the PS3. For the initial electronic sell-through or rental price, consumers can also transfer content onto multiple devices. The connectivity between PS3 and PSP platforms provides a seamless solution for those looking for entertainment experiences on their own terms -- on the go or in their living room -- all with a new-found freedom of not having to worry about TV schedules, movie listings or viewing on a desktop PC.
The PLAYSTATION(R)Network is an emergent entertainment network aimed at digitally delivering innovative content and fostering community for a worldwide audience. The PLAYSTATION Network is the gateway to the PLAYSTATION(R)Store, PlayStation.com, and Sony Computer Entertainment America's upcoming service PlayStation(R)Home. In addition to offering new and original forms of entertainment, the PLAYSTATION Network supports free and community-centric online gameplay, communications tools, and PSP(R) (PlayStation(R)Portable) and PLAYSTATION(R)3 connectivity. As of June 2008, the PLAYSTATION Network has more than 10M registered accounts worldwide.
About Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. continues to redefine the entertainment lifestyle with its PlayStation(R) and PS one(R) game console, the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the PSP(R) (PlayStation(R)Portable) system, the ground-breaking PLAYSTATION(R)3 (PS3(TM)) computer entertainment system and its digital services PLAYSTATION(R)Network and PLAYSTATION(R)Store.
Recognized as the undisputed industry leader, Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. markets the PlayStation family of products and develops, publishes, markets and distributes software for the PS one game console, the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, PLAYSTATION 3 and the PSP system for the North American market. Based in Foster City, Calif., Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. serves as headquarters for all North American operations and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Visit us on the Web at http://www.us.playstation.com
"PlayStation", "PLAYSTATION", "PSP", "PS one" and the PlayStation logo are registered trademarks and "PS3" and "XMB" are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
Source: Sony Computer Entertainment America
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