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Image courtesy Engadget
Microsoft looks to ruffle a few Sony feathers with Xbox Live Video

With Sony's PlayStation 3 just around the corner, Microsoft is looking to have just a bit of an edge to push things in its favor for the holiday season. Gears of War should be out this week to give gamers a bloody dose of fraggin' fun and the HD DVD player is set to drop on November 7. But Microsoft has even bigger plans for its year-old Xbox 360.

Starting November 22, Microsoft will be expanding its Xbox Live service to include high-definition movie downloads as well as standard and high-definition television content. The Redmond-based company has announced deals with CBS, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, TBS, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to blanket Xbox Live with over 1,000 hours of TV programming and movies.

Gamers will be able to access full-length TV shows and download/rent movies from Xbox Live. Customers will also have access to condensed versions of hit TV shows like "CSI" and "Numb3rs" as well as re-mastered versions of classics like "Star Trek." And for the racing fans out there, condensed versions of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races will also be available.

"This groundbreaking announcement is a win for everyone. It connects our partners with one of the most coveted audiences in entertainment today, and provides even greater value to our Xbox Live community, allowing them to enjoy the games and entertainment they want, when they want it," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.

According to Engadget, here are a few things to know about the new service:

  • Content will be purchased using Microsoft Points.
  • TV shows will go for 240 MS points while movie downloads will ring up at 480 and 320 MS points respectively for high-defintion and standard-definition versions.
  • TV shows and movies can only be downloaded to the Xbox 360's hard drive and not to an external USB hard drive or thumb drive.
  • Movies can only be rented, TV shows are purchased.
  • Downloaded movies can be watched as much as you like for up to 24 hours.
  • No content is streamed -- it's download only.
  • All content is encoded in VC1 (WMV HD) at 6.8Mbps video and 5.1 surround sound

All content will be downloaded to the Xbox 360’s removable 20GB hard drive, so if your drive is already near full, you may just be out of luck. That’s too bad considering that it’s unlikely that Microsoft will release that previously rumored 100GB hard drive.

You can catch a full listing of programming available on Microsoft's Xbox website.

Update 11/7/2006: Engadget has posted a hands-on look at Xbox Live Video including numerous images of the interface.




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Gamer Over
By Montrevux on 11/6/06, Rating: 0
RE: Gamer Over
By ObscureCaucasian on 11/6/2006 10:25:02 PM , Rating: 1
I'll be really interested when they start offering free content.


RE: Gamer Over
By Serifan on 11/6/2006 11:32:11 PM , Rating: 4
Everyone we don't need to buy a PS3 or Wii Montrevux has said Microsoft won.

*claps*


RE: Gamer Over
By tuteja1986 on 11/7/2006 12:31:46 AM , Rating: 2
well at least the movies are much higher quality than apple sells on itune and its also cheaper. Now we just need a Hard drive ;(


RE: Gamer Over
By tuteja1986 on 11/7/2006 12:33:28 AM , Rating: 4
Wait ;( , i didn't read about rental part.. this service is doomed


RE: Gamer Over
By moonraker3000 on 11/7/2006 1:54:01 AM , Rating: 2
IT'S A LOT LIKE COMCAST'S ON DEMAND SERVICE. which is awesome and works really great. so don't be hating microsoft for doing something pretty cool.

hmm... this means that if on demand dosen't have the movie that i want, maybe xbox will, lol. :D


RE: Gamer Over
By S3anister on 11/7/2006 1:58:07 AM , Rating: 2
I completely agree, I don't know where you live... but on demand is really nice for when you don't want to get up and drive to the video store. I'm just guessing that maybe microsoft is playing off of comcast ;)


RE: Gamer Over
By tuteja1986 on 11/7/2006 7:22:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah ;( But Downloading a 120min which would be 6GBish would take me a long while since i am on 1.5megabits connect. Atleast Microsoft is offering HQ Video not like apple where my sister bought 3 movies and they are such in terrible Quality.


RE: Gamer Over
By othercents on 11/7/2006 10:48:28 AM , Rating: 2
The next step is to ditch your Cable or Satellite connections for your internet and Xbox360 premium subscription. Maybe they will actually start allowing streaming of popular TV shows.

Other


RE: Gamer Over
By rushfan2006 on 11/7/2006 4:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
I was also thinking 'bout the Comcast On Demand service. I also have their DVR (records in HD) service because I'm more into either spending time with my girl or when I am home my free time is more on the computer playing a game than it is watching TV. With the DVR solution I never have to "worry" about missing a show I like.

That said, I think that comcast DVR solution is a better deal as far as the movie/tv show solution through Xbox. For starters the HD dvr is only $9.95 a month. And you can record all the shows you want for no added cost. And record in HD too...so if you are intrigued by Xbox360 offering you the ability to record your favorite TV show....perhaps you may want to think "$10 a month" vs all the per episode charges of the Xbox service.

Btw...hold your flames for someone else, I'm merely making this post as a SUGGESTION/OPTION to look into for those folks that it may apply to...in the attempt to save them some money.



RE: Gamer Over
By Hydrofirex on 11/7/06, Rating: -1
RE: Gamer Over
By AmbroseAthan on 11/7/2006 9:30:53 AM , Rating: 4
1) Same price as my On Demand from TimeWarner give or take a dollar (the pay-per-view one, not HBO's etc).
2) TimeWarner doesn't have HD On Demand for movies or TV Shows yet; don't know how else I will get an HD movie to my living room without some expensive gear (Blueray/HD-DVD).
3) As stated above, the movies, unless it is playing that moment on HBO/Showtime, is not in HD.
4) This is how rentals work, you only get them for a specified time; refer again to On Demand.
5) So ?
6) Did I miss something? How is Oblivion, or Gears of War, or all the rest not HD resolutions (I play in 720p)? Actual game coding still doesn't fill most DVD's, only the cut movies do (and I personally prefer game engine movies, cut movies take you out of the game, break the 4th wall).
7) I always hate free features, don't you?
8) Refer to 7.
9) Sony's advantage is not a leap and bound beyond the 360's. Overall it is similiar to an overclocked system to a stock system. Sure there is a difference, but it is not very noticable.
10) You can legally rent/buy HD movies on your computer (sans a physical disc)? Can you punch your friend who just killed you with a gernade because he is sitting next to you on the couch?

PC's are very versatile and I tend to play on them, currently a 24" WUXGA from a 512mb 7900GT for HL2 fun.

But consoles have their places for all the rest of the world who doesn't want to invest in a gaming machine and its hardware (my setup above cost me a good bit). A console is cheaper and more easily universal for people to pick up, and easily hooks up to people's current large screen TV's. Microsoft is just offering a nice bonus for anyone who, like me, doesn't have an HD movie service for their living rooms.


RE: Gamer Over
By deeznuts on 11/7/2006 1:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
Psssst. 720P is an HD resolution.


Finally...
By Enoch2001 on 11/7/2006 8:01:25 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has had the infrastructure to do this with Live for a while; I'm glad they finally got the red tape worked out and moved on it.

Sadly, our pathetic 20 GB drives are a problem; Microsoft *MUST* offer a larger drive as an option now. How am I supposed to buy TV shows and leave room for movie rental and game save data, music, etc?

A 20GB drive really is too small for our 360's. Especially when I want to download HD content...




RE: Finally...
By therealnickdanger on 11/7/2006 8:59:01 AM , Rating: 1
... or just let me connect my USB 250GB drive OR let me place all the content on my Media Center server. They should allow for the option to purchase WMVHD movies. I already have a couple such movies (that I aquired legally... :D) that are playable on the Xbox360 since the update and they look fantastic! Fifth Element in 720p and 5.1 surround fits on a single-layer DVD and is so sharp! I am certainly prepared to pay $15 or maybe even $20 for WMVHD movies - so long as I can back them up.


RE: Finally...
By InsidiousAngel on 11/7/2006 9:07:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A 20GB drive really is too small for our 360's. Especially when I want to download HD content...


Yes, I agree. But also remember, last month they discussed the possibility of the 100GB HDD coming to North America early next year. If that happens, it should make this service a little more valuable.


RE: Finally...
By MrFluffo on 11/7/2006 9:47:43 AM , Rating: 3
This rumor has been busted. Turns out MS how no plans to release the hard drive anytime soon, if ever. Though they will practically have to with the size of the movies. According to the article all content is encoded in 6.8Mb/s just for video that means:
20Min TV show: 1020MB (almost 1GB)
12 Episode Series: 12.24GB // $36
24 Episode Series: 24.48GB // $72
90Min Movie: 4.59GB
Looking at those number the people who buy a 12 Ep Series are now almost out of hard drive space, Leaving less room for demos, music, etc. And someone wanting a 24 Ep series is out of luck seeing as how they cant hold the entire season on disk. Also people who have a 12 Ep series will not be able to Download a 90+Min Movie without removing episodes from there series. All of the file sizes are only estimates using the 6.8Mb/s Video, You had better hope that the 6.8Mb/s encludes sound otherwise were going to have even bigger problems.


RE: Finally...
By therealnickdanger on 11/7/2006 10:03:21 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure they just wind up releasing an update that allows for users to download content directly to Vista machines in order to get people to upgrade... then later releasing an update for XP... LOL

It's not like MS just pulled this out of a hat, they have been working on it for a long time. I'm going to guess that they supplied only a 20GB (12GB) because they knew that was all that they needed. 20GB was more than likely NOT an oversight. They probably expect users with high media demands to have external HDDs and media servers. If Vista had been on schedule, we would probably already have the capability to download all of this content to our Vista PCs, but for now we must be in this awkward media storage limbo...

Just my $.02.


RE: Finally...
By MrFluffo on 11/7/2006 10:12:16 AM , Rating: 2
"TV shows and movies can only be downloaded to the Xbox 360's hard drive and not to an external USB hard drive or thumb drive." 20GB is all you have untill they allow it to be put somewhere else. 20GB is no where near enough. As i stated 12 Eps and your pretty much tapped, no movie download for you.


RE: Finally...
By therealnickdanger on 11/7/2006 11:36:55 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
20GB is all you have untill they allow it to be put somewhere else .

... which was exactly my point.


RE: Finally...
By Aikouka on 11/7/2006 11:47:51 AM , Rating: 2
Just to clarify something, the X360 HDD is ~18.6GB formatted. Given about 500MB to Microsoft's junk, you still have more room avail. That 12GB that you mentioned includes a lot of pre-installed junk that comes with the XBOX. Such as a video on the raising of the Titantic, that if I recall, is about 1GB in size (900-ish megs).

I've just been too lazy to delete these things so far, so I can't give you a tried-and-true number. I also have demos and videos installed to my HDD, so that would throw off my number as well. Although, I could go through the painstakingly long process of adding up all the files and the free space then subtracting that sum from how much room I should have avail (18.63) and that'll tell me how large the dashboard and stuff is.

Also, the encoding on those episodes doesn't sound too great... I mean, I like to watch my tv in Hi-Def, but I don't have a HDTV... so I download the TV shows that I watch (Heroes, etc) in Hi-Res HDTV. Even the HR HDTV downloads are only 700MB with AC3 5.1 sound. These episodes being viewed on my 1680x1050 display (bigger than 720p) look just fine. The real reason why Microsoft is using that standard is our favorite little buzz word, DRM ;).


RE: Finally...
By thejez on 11/7/2006 1:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
Im confused about where you guys are getting your size information? I am looking at an HD/5.1 episode of the office (its in DivX format -- mp4) and the file is only ~180MB. Quality looks great on my HDTV and the sound is of course 5.1.... if it were close to the quality i see in this show i'd be really happy!


expensive
By BrassMonkey on 11/6/2006 10:57:00 PM , Rating: 3
3 dollars for one TV show that is restricted to the system which because Microsoft uses a proprietary hard drive those episode you bought will have to be deleted when the time comes. If MS allows us to redownload the TV show as many times as we want then I'm ok with it sorta...

$72 is somewhat high for a full 24 episode season. You can buy a full season DVD for ussually $50; and older seasons are around $20.




RE: expensive
By tdawg on 11/7/2006 1:17:31 AM , Rating: 2
I hope the TV shows are HD versions, rather than Apple iTunes equivalent TV resolutions, then they might be worth it at 240 MS points (79 points = $0.99, according to the new zune marketplace). That and I'd hope they'd be transferable to the Zune since interconnectivity with the xbox is supposed to be one of the zune's selling points.

The movie rental thing still doesn't sound like a winner. It's basically just a port of their cinemanow offering, only the movies expire 24 hours after downloading them (and for 340 MS points?) Won't we be able to rent HD-DVD's from Blockbuster and the like for about the same cost and be able to keep it out longer? Though I guess this is nice for those of us that probably won't be adding the HD-DVD drive any time soon, since we'll still gain the ability to "rent" HD-DVD films without spending $200 on the HD-DVD drive.


RE: expensive
By tdawg on 11/7/2006 1:18:10 AM , Rating: 2
Just saw that the TV shows will be offered in HD, so that's a definite plus.


RE: expensive
By 0roo0roo on 11/7/2006 7:22:36 AM , Rating: 2
i think they have something like 72mb/s connects places like korea, would make downloads a snap:P whats the average here in the us? 1.5? 3? but i guess its a nice option to have. the new hd remasters of startrek the original series will be interesting. shows new tech isn't always the best, the original series was filmed on film and can benifit from hd remaster unlike the more recent startrek shows which look lousy even on dvd:P thats progress for ya.


RE: expensive
By Spivonious on 11/7/2006 9:53:07 AM , Rating: 2
Average of 1.5 or 3? Ha! Most people still use dial-up. Some don't have any Internet access. So that makes the average quite a bit lower.

Now, if you're talking just XB360 users, based on my experiences working at Gamestop, I'd guess that about 25% of 360 owners have dial-up, the rest having DSL (768/1.5) or cable (6). There's probably more DSL than cable since it's cheaper, so we'll say 60/40 of that remaining 75%.

.25(56) + .75(.3(768)+.3(1500)+.4(6000))

14 + .75(230.4+450+2400)

14 + 2310.3

2324.3 = 2.3243 Mbps avg for XB360 owners.

That means for an average user, it will take almost 6 hours (5.77) to download a two hour movie. The great thing about On Demand is that you click play and after a few seconds the movie starts.

While this idea is still going to get people to buy things, I don't think it will be successful long term unless the cost of broadband comes down and the speed gets faster.


RE: expensive
By Bytre on 11/7/2006 7:22:53 PM , Rating: 2
~8% dialup today, with some bias towards visitors to the site.

http://www.pcpitstop.com/research/bandwidth.asp



RE: expensive
By therealnickdanger on 11/8/2006 3:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, thanks Bytre.

Keep in mind that Xbox Live is technically not even for dial-up users. This news really only applies to broadband users in the first place, and most certainly not to people that have NO Internet access.

I have not timed downloads from XBL to estimate a speed, but I imagine Microsoft can open the faucets if need be. I achieved over 8K download speed from Microsoft.com when I downloaded WMP11...


We need that 100Gb!
By MonkeyPaw on 11/6/2006 10:25:54 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a pretty good idea, especially if it will work with Zune (other players are highly unlikely). However, I'd hate to think how fast that 20GB (which really about ~15GB free) will fill up with HD content. I guess an external HD will fix that problem, but that's hardly as elegant as something built into the unit.




RE: We need that 100Gb!
By ViperROhb34 on 11/6/2006 10:37:02 PM , Rating: 2
I ugraded my Xbox 360 to a 60 Gig .. but my cousin bought an external USB2 Hardrive.. not sure what size.. but it was over 200G and they don't cost a ton.. I'm sure with this breakthru.. there won't be any issues downloading movies.. I have room.. but I think when he downloads demo's it ask him where he wants it.. I just tried calling him, left a page..

http://360.xbox-hq.com/xbox-tutorials-17.html


RE: We need that 100Gb!
By ninjit on 11/6/2006 10:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't have any issues with your upgrade?

At least on the original xbox I thought part of XBL's security check was reading the hardware ID off of the harddisk.

quote:
TV shows and movies can only be downloaded to the Xbox 360's hard drive and not to an external USB hard drive or thumb drive


Seems like your cousin's going to be SOL with his USB drive.


RE: We need that 100Gb!
By shiftomnimega on 11/6/2006 11:08:02 PM , Rating: 2
^That's what I was thinking. I haven't figured out how to backup trailers and movies onto my USB drive. Seems I can't transfer anything without a third party device.

^^BTW thanks for posting the tutorial. And you're right, with half of the HD full of preloaded stuff and seemingly all of my games needing some sort of update I'm definitely gonna need more space for this stuff.


RE: We need that 100Gb!
By MrFluffo on 11/7/2006 9:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
Read the artical the movies cannot be moved off of the xbox360 hard drive


duh
By Samus on 11/7/2006 1:28:09 AM , Rating: 2
It MUST be a rental service so the files can delete themselves after 24 hours, otherwise, well, you'll quickly fill that pathetic (for video) hard drive.

Really, at 6.8Mbps, we're talkin 5GB for a 2 hour movie. Where would you store that if they're not going to let you put it on your PC or a removable drive? Exactly.




RE: duh
By 7DrFunk7 on 11/7/2006 7:32:09 AM , Rating: 2
Well...lets say MS allows you to download it to an external hard drive think how easy pirates will be able to get a hold of it. Im sure there is some deal between the networks and MS on protecting against this. And also you wont be able to stream movies/TV Shows either.


RE: duh
By Spivonious on 11/7/2006 9:59:40 AM , Rating: 2
I imagine the files will only play on the XB360. It wouldn't be that hard to do; just look for the 360 hardware components upon opening the file. And if MS had no plan for this, I doubt any of the companies would have signed on to this.


It will work well on FOS
By phil126 on 11/7/2006 7:34:51 AM , Rating: 2
It will fit right in with the higher speed networks that are being rolled out through the year all over the US. I have 12Mbs FOS conenction and TimeWarner added 14mbs just to compete. So as the broadband is always being upgraded it will be easier to take advantage of products movies on demand.




RE: It will work well on FOS
By sthaznpride17 on 11/7/2006 9:15:58 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on the area. Comcrap will only give me a max of 8mbps, standard is 6. They claim their powerbooster crap brings it up to 12mbps when d/l large files. Not.


RE: It will work well on FOS
By Spivonious on 11/7/2006 10:03:11 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know what your experience is like, but the "powerboost" thing really does work for me. For the first 10% or so of a large file (>50MB) I get constant speeds of around 1.2MB/s (or 9.6Mbps). It might not be double the 6Mbps I usually get, but it's still a lot faster.

Until HD video streaming becomes a commonplace thing, there is no purpose to offer anything faster than what is available now. Most people I know are perfectly fine puddling along with 768Kbps DSL.


sounds like Comcast on demand
By MrFluffo on 11/7/2006 9:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
This service is basically just Comcast on demnd accept so far you HAVE to pay for it where as on comcast you can watch most movies and shows for free, and does not rely on your internet connection.




RE: sounds like Comcast on demand
By thejez on 11/8/2006 11:31:19 AM , Rating: 2
"This service is basically just Comcast on demnd accept so far you HAVE to pay for it where as on comcast you can watch most movies and shows for free , and does not rely on your internet connection. "

you dont pay for comcast tv? Funny how companies like comcast are so integrated into your wallet that you actually think that when they give you something it's "free"... kudos to thier brain-washing machine...


RE: sounds like Comcast on demand
By MrFluffo on 11/8/2006 10:32:33 PM , Rating: 2
Let me rephrase this: Once you have on demand and u pay your monthly fee +however many premium "movie networks". I can watch say "The godfather" man that was a great movie. good thing i have a subscription to this network and i can watch this movie as many times as i want. I dont have to pay every time i play the movy every 24 hours. If i want to show it to my friend he can watch it without me having to pay again. If i want to show a friend just on part of it i dont have to pay. I also dont have to worry about downloading since it doesnt rely on my internet connection, and i dont have to worry about HD space. for about $80 a month including a subscription to a premium network i can watch movies and shows AS MANY TIMES AS I WANT. Its not "renting" a movie. If i rent a movie on XBL and something comes up and i cant finish it within 24 hours i have to go and order it again for the same price as going to blockbuster and being able to watch it for 5-7 days.


Ruffle Apple's feathers...
By Furen on 11/7/2006 12:45:08 AM , Rating: 5
Sounds to me like this will ruffle Apple's feathers more than it will Sony's (Sony's are already pretty "ruffled" :P). An iTV (or whatever the hell that's gonna be called) for $300 bucks sounds like a waste of cash to me. An Xbox 360 with similar functionality, DVD playback and games for $400 sounds much better, IMO.




As Expected
By Funksultan on 11/7/2006 7:38:34 AM , Rating: 1
I hope this wasn't a shock for anyone. Yes, it's great news, and a great idea, but if you think Sony and Nintendo don't already have plans for the same thing, think again.

Storage, open media, ease of download, selection, price. These are the things that are going to decide which console wins on this particular front.

I would expect Hollywood, Blockbuster, and maybe even Netflix to ally themselves with one of the consoles in the near future for this purpose.

Just like every other war, apparent bystanders will get involved on one side or the other until the battle reaches a fevered pace.




RE: As Expected
By 7DrFunk7 on 11/7/2006 7:47:12 AM , Rating: 2
Im sure if they were not planning on it before they are now.


RE: As Expected
By Funksultan on 11/8/2006 3:03:54 PM , Rating: 1
It's on everyone's list, just nobody wants to be the first one in the pool.

It'll be interesting to see if anyone truly adopts an "open" standard.


Quality compare
By Bytre on 11/7/2006 7:25:51 PM , Rating: 2
How does 6.8Mbps WMV HD compare to MPEG2 data rates where quality is concerned? Terrestrial broadcast HDTV is >19Mbps.




RE: Quality compare
By ViperROhb34 on 11/7/2006 11:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
I know MS uses the VC1 codec which has superior picture and takes up less space.

Im comparison the 1st Bluray movies put out were MPEG..and using most of the disc.. while HD-DVD uses now ( and used in the beginning ) VC1 and used less space ..

If you read the reviews the 1st Bluray movies were said to look inferior to HD-DVD due to the fact Vc1 really is much better..



Pricing issues.
By Dfere on 11/8/2006 8:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
Well , What are the prices exactly? And is the movie price comparable to On Demand movies? Is the p0rn cheaper?




RE: Pricing issues.
By bldckstark on 11/8/2006 12:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
Now that's where the money is. On demand pr0n.


Movie rentals
By ajfink on 11/7/2006 12:42:08 PM , Rating: 2
I -might- use this service every now and then to rent a movie, but that's it. One day? Come on, at least give us three. The TV shows are a tad on the expensive side, but it is nice you can re-download them at any time. Here and now is where that 13GB of free space on my hard drive is going to seem very, very, VERY limiting if I ever decide to get a few TV shows (I would only do HD, I think).




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