CinemaNow to offer HD movie downloads

The new HD service will make HD movies available for download and playback on Windows XP-based PCs

CinemaNow has announced the premiere of its HD Channel — a service that will make HD movies available for download and playback on Windows XP-based PCs.

The service will be limited to HD playback on the latest version of the Windows Media Player and will work with the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 PC. Windows Media Video HD offers 720p video resolution. All CinemaNow HD movies are encoded at up to 10Mb/s and feature 5.1 surround sound.

The first releases on CinemaNow in Windows Media Video HD are to be MacGillivray Freeman Films’ giant screen IMAX films through a deal with Image Entertainment, the company said. Among the first titles is “Coral Reef Adventure,” which was created for exhibition in IMAX theaters and was voted the Best IMAX Theater Film of 2003 by members of the Giant Screen Theater Association.

All Windows Media Video HD titles will be available on a download-to-own basis so users may keep a permanent digital copy of the file for unlimited playback on their Windows XP-based PCs. Presumably, it will be encrypted for use only with Windows Media Player, though the company did not reveal its DRM policy. CinemaNow also did not reveal the start-up date of the service or its cost.

CinemaNow has also developed PatchBay, a proprietary content-on-demand distribution and management system that runs the CinemaNow web site. It is available as a licensable technology to outside parties.

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