Tech | You've movies

Online businesses offer users convenient way to watch movies on computer or through mail.

There may be hope for those who love the movies, but hate the rental stores.

On Monday, five movie studios -- Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and Warner Brothers -- launched Movielink. According to CNN Web site, the business allows people to download films over a high-speed Internet connection. The compressed files average about 500 megabytes in size and take about an hour to download with a high-speed DSL or cable modem connection.

Also, according to the article, the new business offers individual titles with prices starting at $1.99 and going to $4.99.

Movielink incorporates Realplayer and offers quality similar to a VHS tape, though the image suffers as it is enlarged. Also, just like a VCR, viewers can pause, fast forward and rewind the films.

The movies can be watched an unlimited number of times during a 24-hour period, but they delete themselves after the one-day license expires. They sit on the hard drive for 30 days if not watched.

The files are encrypted and will not play the movie if it is sent to another computer.

However, to reach the Movielink Web site, potential customers must have computers with Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP, which rules out all Mac users.

Currently, the article said, Movielink offers about 170 titles, ranging from the recent films, including "A Beautiful Mind" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," to older titles, such as "Blazing Saddles" and "Barbella."

But 170 titles does not compare to the selection at video stores, and owners say it won't compete either.

"I don't think downloading movies from the net will hurt business because I don't think the quality will be that great, and it's not compatible with surround sound systems," said Kody Gibson, the assistant manager of Blockbuster on 1313 W. McGalliard Road.-á

Megan Stewart, an employee at Family Video at 2510 N. Tillotson Ave., said the technology will not sway the loyal customers.

"No this won't hurt sales because we have our loyal customers and they couldn't leave us," she said.

Jake Williams, an employee at Hollywood Video Store at 601 S. Tillotson Avenue, said the technology won't be able to compete with videos.

"The percent of people who have high-speed Internet connection is probably still pretty low, so I would say that it won't hurt sales," Williams said. "DVDs have a big impact on sales."

Others, however, said they feel that sales have been affected.

"It definitely hurts," said Jim Spencer, who co-owns DJ Video along at 3410 N Wheeling Avenue. "We've had people tell us they don't rent anymore because of being able to download them over the net or rent movies off satellites. Some even say they have friends that are downloading movies playing in theaters on the net."


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