Mainstream Movies over the Internet a Slow Work in Progress

Article excerpt

Almost from the first days of the Internet, one of the products promised as "just around the corner" has been video-on-demand.

That promise has been made for nearly a decade now. And except for a few limited pilot programs, the idea of watching any movie or other video release on your computer whenever you want to is still just a promise.

But as high-speed Internet connections become more ubiquitous, a close cousin of video-on-demand has emerged. While you still can't click a button and watch a movie instantly, the first service offering downloads of recently released mainstream films is now available.

Movielink (www.movielink.com) offers a moderate selection of studio releases that can be downloaded over a cable modem or DSL line in one to two hours.

Once on your PC's hard drive, you have up to a month to watch the film. But after viewing it for the first time, you have 24 hours to watch it again before the film expires.

The movies are encrypted to prevent viewers from copying them onto recordable DVDs.

Rental fees range from $4.95 for newly released films such as "Scooby-Doo" to $1.99 for a classic like the Jane Fonda camp romp, "Barbarella."

As for the software needed to watch a film, you can use either Windows Media Player, or RealPlayer from Real Networks. Both formats appear to work equally well.

But Movielink has some drawbacks.

For one, owners of Apple computers or other machines without Windows can't use the service; they are incompatible. …

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