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The Lowdown on the Canadian Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store

On Dec.‭ ‬11,‭ ‬Microsoft opened-up the eagerly anticipated Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store for Canadian Xbox‭ ‬360‭ ‬owners.‭ ‬With‭ ‬31‭ ‬videos available at launch,‭ ‬Canadians got their first taste of what to expect from a digital movie download service.‭ ‬But does the Xbox Live Marketplace video store live up to the hype‭?

Lets start by analyzing the cost,‭ ‬Xbox Live subscribers‭ (‬available for both Silver and Gold memberships‭) ‬can download older titles (also known as Library titles) in SD‭ (‬standard definition‭) ‬and HD‭ (‬high definition‭) ‬formats for‭ ‬300‭ (‬$4.80‭) ‬and‭ ‬440‭ (‬$7.04‭) ‬MS Points respectively.‭ ‬Current (recent movies) SD releases go for‭ ‬440‭ ‬MS Points‭ (‬$7.04‭)‬,‭ ‬while HD movies will set subscribers back‭ ‬580‭ ‬MS Points‭ (‬$9.27‭)‬.‭

Prices are higher in comparison to your traditional brick and mortar rental chain.‭ ‬For example,‭ ‬one of the major Canadian rental chains currently gives their patrons the opportunity to rent a new release‭ (‬either DVD,‭ ‬HD-DVD or Blu-Ray‭) ‬for a flat‭ ‬$5.00‭ ‬fee.‭ ‬With that in mind,‭ ‬you could say that Marketplace Video Store users pay a little extra for the convenience of getting movies from the comfort of their living room.

And those expecting a true HD experience out of the Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store might be disappointed as the HD content is only available in‭ ‬720p‭ (‬in comparison to HD-DVD and Blu-Ray’s‭ ‬1080p resolution‭)‬.‭

After the initial download,‭ ‬consumers have‭ ‬14‭ ‬days to view their content before it expires,‭ ‬or they have‭ ‬24‭ ‬hours to complete their viewing after they’ve‭ ‬pressed the start button,‭ ‬whichever comes first.‭ ‬The media can then be viewed indefinitely within that‭ ‬24-hour window.‭ ‬If by chance you weren’t able to complete your viewing within the first‭ ‬24‭ ‬hours,‭ ‬you will need to re-purchase the content.

At the moment, standard definition movies range in size from‭ ‬819MB to‭ ‬2.1GB,‭ ‬while high definition content go from‭ ‬3.2GB to‭ ‬5.6GB.‭ ‬Depending on your Internet speed,‭ ‬it might take a few hours to download your rental.‭ ‬The service does offers a‭ “‬Ready to Play‭” ‬feature that lets you start watching your movie as it downloads.‭ ‬A basic‭ ‬20GB Xbox‭ ‬360‭ ‬hard drive should suffice for SD movies,‭ ‬but HD enthusiasts should consider purchasing a‭ ‬120GB hard drive.

New movies will be released on a monthly basis.‭ ‬The store currently offers movies from three distributors‭; ‬Warner Bros.,‭ ‬Maple Pictures and MPI.‭ ‬More distributors are expected to jump on board as the Marketplace Video Store matures.

Currently,‭ ‬the Marketplace Video Store only offers video rentals.‭ ‬No word yet on when the service will offer TV shows,‭ ‬but the content should be available shortly as the Canadian iTunes Store recently‭ ‬started selling shows for‭ ‬$1.99‭ ‬an episode.

With digital media downloads expected to become the chosen format for entertainment consumption,‭ ‬the Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store is an excellent start.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬hopefully Microsoft will lower the price of the content as the service expands.‭ ‬With Apple and its iTunes Store creeping in,‭ ‬things should start to get interesting on the digital download front.

The Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store first launched in Nov.‭ ‬2006‭ ‬in the‭ ‬US and currently features over 300 movies.‭

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