Download Movies

5/29/2008 Dana Unger and her family watch a lot of movies on their television, but they don't rent DVDs or use cable on demand. Instead they use something new, Apple TV.

"It's just so easy to rent it and watch it, whenever you want to watch it," says Unger.

Consumer Reports' Rich Fisco checked out Apple TV, which consists of a hard drive that can connect wirelessly to the internet, as well as to your computer. He also looked at Vudu, which is similar, though it doesn't come with a wireless connection.

"With both of these devices, you can rent a movie and it will store itself on the device. Once you select a movie, you can almost instantly start viewing it," says Fisco.

After you start watching, you have 24 hours to view the movie, then it automatically deletes.

The cost of renting a movie varies. For new releases, both services charge $3.99 and somewhat more for high definition. But Consumer Reports finds the picture quality isn't quite as good as Blu-Ray DVDs or the best high-definition TV programs. Fisco says, "They have to compress it to get it to you in a timely fashion so it doesn't take hours to download."

As for selection, Vudu has some 5,000 titles. Apple TV has far fewer, around 1,200. But it offers access to things Vudu doesn't, like music, podcasts, and photos stored on your computer as well as YouTube.

Dana Unger likes all that, but there's one thing she likes even more. "Now I don't have to worry about losing DVDs anymore."

Consumer Reports says it's a good idea to check out available movies on Vudu or Apple TV before you purchase the device. With Vudu you have to pay a minimum $20 subscriber fee to do this.

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