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Sony Begins Selling HD Movies On Its PSN 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the pants-and-cheeseburgers-to-follow dept.
itwbennett writes "Sony on Tuesday 'rolled out the ability to buy HD movies from the PlayStation Network,' writes blogger Peter Smith. Sony claims they're the first service to offer HD titles to own from all six major movie studios. Smith runs the numbers on 'standard' pricing for titles ($19.99 for new releases; $17.99 for older movies), file sizes (ranging from 4 GB for Zombieland to 7.5 GB for 2012), and resolution (720P as far as he can tell)."
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Sony Begins Selling HD Movies On Its PSN

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  • Titles to "own" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoapBox17 (1020345) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:29AM (#31450296) Homepage
    To "own"? Let's not kid ourselves here... there's no real ownership involved unless there is a way to get DRM-free files in 720p off the device using anything other than your eyeballs. I seriously doubt there is, which makes this just a really expensive rental service. I'm sure there are already lots of services which feature renting movies from all 6 major studios while taking your money and laughing about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Yes, but do any of the others give you the benefit of having your wallet and your ass both brutally violated directly by Sony at the same time?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drcln (98574)

      To "own"? Let's not kid ourselves here... there's no real ownership involved . . ..

      "To watch as many times as you like but only on your PS3 and only for as long as you keep your PS3 and don't erase the file or the hard drive fails or something else goes wrong" does not sound as snappy as "to own." But, I don't mind the idea of paying for content with limitations and that won't necessarily last forever, as long as the pricing is in line with the limitations. This pricing scheme provides no reason to buy from PSN.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rworne (538610)

        You can "back up" the file using the PS3's backup utility and restore it on a new drive. That will protect against a failed drive but not a failed PS3 since a replacement PS3 will refuse to restore any DRM'd content.

        Also note: it won't protect you against false leap years as well.

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Whats the point of buying the digital version if you have to buy an extra hard drive to back up the file?? You might as well buy the physical version and save yourself the trouble of making a backup (which you can resell later to pay rent if you have to).

    • I seriously doubt there is, which makes this just a really expensive rental service.

      Absolutely. There is absolutely 0 difference between this service and a movie-rental service. None.

    • by furby076 (1461805)

      To "own"? Let's not kid ourselves here... there's no real ownership involved unless there is a way to get DRM-free files in 720p off the device using anything other than your eyeballs. I seriously doubt there is, which makes this just a really expensive rental service. I'm sure there are already lots of services which feature renting movies from all 6 major studios while taking your money and laughing about it.

      Really - your eyeballs can get files off a device? So should I call you Jordi LaForge?

      Not that I would use this service (I prefer having the physical media), but if I get to d/l it to my computer, and it resides there as long as I so choose to keep it then I own the right to view the movie as much as I want. I don't own the movie, that ownership resides with the company that released it...but I own the right to view it. Same thing if I buy a dvd from a store. It's about preference. My friend prefers

    • Actually, there in no real physical ownership of non-physical things at all. We don’t “own” it. But they also don’t. The ones having it control it. But the more there are, the harder weaker the power of the single entity, and the lower the value of what you can ask for in exchange.

      Their problem is, that they use sneaky criminal methods (DRM) to try to remove it from under your ass and keep control, after you paid for it. Which is like buying a car, and at home noticing that it falls

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:29AM (#31450298)

    Let's see:

    -Lengthy download instead of a trip to the store.
    -Price comparable to a Bluray off of Amazon.
    -Quality less than Bluray.
    -Limited to watching it on my PS3.

    Sounds like a real winner, Sony!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      Lengthy download instead of a trip to the store.

      A trip to the store can take more than a day if you happen to want a movie on a day when the city buses are not running. In some cities, buses don't run on Sundays or about six major holidays.

      • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:44AM (#31450390)

        Lengthy download instead of a trip to the store.

        A trip to the store can take more than a day if you happen to want a movie on a day when the city buses are not running. In some cities, buses don't run on Sundays or about six major holidays.

        That's nothing. A trip to the store could take weeks if you get taken hostage by an arm gang on the way and released later after lengthy negotiations by Jimmy Carter. Of course we always take this sort of scenario into account when deciding whether to download or buy from the store.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:02AM (#31450524)

          Ha! That's nothing. My dad went out to buy cigarettes 20 years ago and still hasn't comeback... At least, that taught me not to smoke.

        • by yorugua (697900) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:54AM (#31450954)

          Lengthy download instead of a trip to the store.

          A trip to the store can take more than a day if you happen to want a movie on a day when the city buses are not running. In some cities, buses don't run on Sundays or about six major holidays.

          That's nothing. A trip to the store could take weeks if you get taken hostage by an arm gang on the way and released later after lengthy negotiations by Jimmy Carter. Of course we always take this sort of scenario into account when deciding whether to download or buy from the store.

          That's nothing. It could take months if you have your PS3 in your boat and you are traveling near the cost of Africa while testing your new satellite Internet link. While you might think that a short trip to the coast to take some pictures, meet some people, sightseeing and buying that new BluRay you heard about in some store could be interesting, you can also get kidnapped by one of those pirates gangs and spend months while someone put (a lot of) money on the table to take you back. This could specially apply also if you ship oil for a work on a large boat, or move large amounts of people around, or you do some high level fishing.

          Of course we always take this sort of scenario into account when deciding whether to download or buy from the store at the shore.

          • I'm just amazed your scenario doesn't involve aliens.

          • by Marauder2 (82448)

            you can also get kidnapped by one of those pirates gangs and spend months while someone put (a lot of) money on the table to take you back.

            See, that's exactly why Sony includes DRM on the movies, to prevent exactly this sort of piracy.....

      • by lxs (131946)

        If public transport is such a mess in your town, you should invest in some form of personal transportation. I suggest a bicycle.

        • by tepples (727027)
          I have a bike, but its practicality depends on the weather.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lxs (131946)

            You wouldn't last a day in Copenhagen [copenhagencyclechic.com]

          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            The only weather that stops a bicycle is hail*, and even then just invest in a suit of plate armor and that won't even matter.

            * OK, a hurricane or tornado might also make matters difficult.

            • by tepples (727027)
              (Context for moderators: comparison of sitting at home and buying movies on PSN to traveling to a retail store on a bicycle to buy the same movies on Blu-ray.)

              The only weather that stops a bicycle is hail

              Would you recommend cycling in a thunderstorm?

              • by Neoprofin (871029)
                I don't like walking in the rain either, but I still have to do it to get to my car and into the store. It sounds like buying movies is the least of your trouble.
                • by plague3106 (71849)

                  You're comparing a few minutes in the rain to what could be HOURS.

                  • by Neoprofin (871029)
                    If you have to ride your bike hours to get to a DVD store the rain seems like a minor inconvenience compared to the realization that by the time you get home from your epic ride you wont have time to watch the movie anyway.
              • by nedlohs (1335013)

                Yes.

      • So how did you manage to get hold of a PS3 then?

        • by tepples (727027)

          So how did you manage to get hold of a PS3 then?

          One buys a console far less often than games or movies for that console.

          • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:02AM (#31450536)

            And your point is what precisely?

            Surely the purchasing mechanism that you used for your PS3 is scaleable to the point where it can be used as a similar mechanism for the purchase of games and movies?

            I also find it difficult to believe that anyone wakes up in the morning in their own bed and says "Oh shit! I just realised that public transport links to my home are not suitable for my lifestyle."

            • We have similar bad transit in my city. I'd make a day trip to buy a Console because I only have to do it once. I wouldn't take the same day or half day to go rent a movie for a couple of reasons.

              1) You never know if the movie you want is going to be at the store. Wasting a half a day, a few hours there and a few hours back, to go to the store just to find out the don't carry or don't have the movie you wanted in is a major frustration. Before I spent more time downloading then renting I'd try to call ahead

              • Actually, I take back some of what I said - here in the UK there aren't that many places where you're truly "out in the wilds" and miles away from any civilisation; however, I hadn't considered a place like Canada where I guess it's still possible to be living many miles from anywhere.

                • Every place I have ever lived, there has been a movie rental place either closer than, or the same distance as the grocery store (and that's in Canada!). If you seriously have problems renting a movie, how do you buy your groceries?
                • Not even just being out in the wilds. I've been to London and their transit system is infinitely better then what we have here in Dartmouth, Nova Scota. Then again, I think you'd be hard pressed to find any place with worse transit.

                  Sure I can walk or take a bike, but if you've ever been to Halifax or Dartmouth, you'd know the cities are made up of hills, hills on hills and more hills.

                  The advantage is I'm in great shape. I was at a bachelor party for a friend of mine about a year ago. He had friends from Alb

      • by EvilIdler (21087) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:29AM (#31451302)

        You can't download snacks.

        • Snacks are more fungible than movies. If I'm out of ZonePerfect candy bars, for example, I can use whatever Sun Chips I have left. One movie doesn't substitute for another nearly as easily; otherwise, free movies would substitute for major-label movies just as Firefox has been substituting for IE. Besides, I can stock up on snacks for a month at a time during a normal scheduled trip to the grocery store. With a movie, on the other hand, I have to get in early before everyone starts spouting spoilers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Opportunist (166417)

            And even if you forget the snacks and only notice it after you slipped the DVD in, you can still go out and get them, and be back just in the nick of time after the unskippable ads have rolled.

        • by WilyCoder (736280)

          We're working on that...

    • by Mystery00 (1100379) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:46AM (#31450406)
      Don't forget download size, some of us have download quotas.
    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      I don't buy movies anymore - I rent them. I know it's a (slightly) different comparison to what you were complaining about, but renting HD movies from PSN makes a ton of sense. I hate going to the rental store to pick up a movie, only to have to drive back a day or two later to return it. My wife & I prefer to pick a movie on Thursday evening (when new stuff gets posted to PSN) and if anything looks interesting, we rent a movie to watch on the weekend. It's like $4 to rent an HD movie from PSN, about th

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Given a choice between a $4.50 "old release" HD "rental" and a $1 new release RedBox DVD (oh, and some RedBoxes have Blu-Ray), I'll take the $1 DVD for instant gratification.

        Given a choice between two $4.50 "old release" HD "rentals" and a 2-disc Netflix plan - I'll take the Netflix plan, which will easily get a lower "rental" price per month, plus there's Netflix Instant Streaming.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Points 2,3 & 4 I completely agree with. I'd add that the potential for the DRM to self destruct at some arbitrary point in the future further devalues the purchase.

      I disagree with your first point, though. If they sort out DRM issues and pricing I'd find downloads to be a very convenient way of purchasing movies. Even going on a 7.5GB file size and allowing for network congestion that's a 30 minute download on my connection, and 50Mbps is not that unusual any more. Even living in a big city you're doing

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      -Limited to watching it on my PS3.

      Actually, for most of us, this is a limitation common to Bluray as well.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      At $17.99 for older movies, it's WORSE than buying a Blu-Ray.

      Most older movies have gotten down to $10-15 at Wally World, and I managed to even find some 2-packs (admittedly of made-for-TV movies) for $10.

      I worry that this might affect Netflix streaming to the PS3 though - Netflix's prices blow Sony's "rental" prices away. A 2-disc Netflix sub is only slightly more expensive than two "old release" HD "rentals".

      • Their prices for movies are obscene. No way I'd "buy" one, but I was excited when I saw that rental was an option--until I saw the price. I expected maybe $2, $3 tops. Nope. $6. These dumbasses don't seem to realize that they're competing with Redbox and its $1/day rentals. In many cases, that's enough to buy a DVD of the movie (used, at least).

        I'm willing to pay a bit more for the convenience of not having to go out to get the disc and to return it, but not that much. $2 is really what I expected to

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      Uh, most of us are limited to watching blu-rays on our PS3s, anyway. Not that I'll do this, because I like owning the discs, but...
      Plus, I can just download the 720p ripped version and play *that* on my PS3, if the movie isn't worth it or I haven't seen it yet.

      So I agree there that their pricing is dubious.

    • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:51AM (#31451546)

      -Lengthy download instead of a trip to the store.
      -Price comparable to a Bluray off of Amazon.
      -Quality less than Bluray.
      -Limited to watching it on my PS3.

      But wait, there's more!

      -Quickly fill up your PS3 hard drive.
      -Wonder what happens if your hard drive crashes or if you want to switch to another console.
      -No more saving money by selling a movie or by buying movies used.
      -No more borrowing movies among friends.

    • by bugi (8479)

      1) what price?

      2) gouge them

      1) what?

      2) let's see what the market will bear

      1) not a little excessive?

      2) if it works it'll pay off big

      2) and besides we can refuse to sell to anybody who undercuts us

      1) no B-movie bargain bin at walmart. sweet!

  • Pricing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by VisualD (1144679)
    With a measly $2 reduction for "older titles", one wonders why they even bothered having a tiered pricing scheme.
    • So the old complaint works. You know, the "now we're already reducing the price of the movie and STILL nobody buys it, must be the pirates"

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:32AM (#31450314) Homepage

    You can get Zombieland on blu-ray at Amazon for $23.49. It's yours, you can loan it, sell it, make backups (shhhh), etc. Plus it's in full 1080p. Who the frick would buy a "virtual" copy for nearly the same price?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:41AM (#31450376)

      Indeed, it's strategies like this that made me stop working for Sony.

      Oh, that and the regular shafting by management.

      The irony is, management will email you and say "please tell us how to be a better company" and you tell them to try selling things that are a good value proposition and they don't want to know.

      For instance, I emailed the head of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and told him that no-one would ever buy a UMD movie at that price/quality, but did he listen? Did he fuck.

      Sony needs to get rid of the morons in upper management and start listening to the people making the products.

      • Sony needs to get rid of the morons in upper management and start listening to the people making the products.

        Great suggestion! Why don't you just email that to upper management, and they'll get right on it!

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      The problem is that the movie cartels don't want to compete with themselves. They don't care which one you buy as long as you give them the money. Although considering the retailer markup it does seem strange that they're not able to offer these for a little less.
    • by 1000101 (584896)
      You can get Zombieland on blu-ray at Amazon for $23.49. It's yours, you can loan it, sell it, make backups (shhhh), etc. Plus it's in full 1080p. Who the frick would buy a "virtual" copy for nearly the same price?

      Who the frick would pay $23.49 for Zombieland (or any other movie for that matter)?
    • by VShael (62735)

      Indeed. I would put what they are offering, at under 5 bucks. Truthfully. Since I'm paying for the bandwidth, and the storage, and they will most likely still own it, and probably be able to delete the damn thing remotely or something... 5 bucks is about all it's worth.

    • You can get [some movie] on blu-ray at Amazon for $23.49.

      The disadvantage there is you wait a week for "super saver shipping".

    • I'd pay a $2 premium to have the movie watchable right then AND shipped to me as the true blu-ray version.

  • by hcdejong (561314)

    It may be 720p, but if the file is no larger than 7.5 GB, it'll be compressed all to hell, and no better than DVD.

    • Re:HD? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:23AM (#31450684) Journal
      Have you ever downloaded and watched HD movies off Usenet or torrent sites? These are typically 4-8GB for 720p, and 8-16GB for 1080p. The quality is in no way anywhere as bad or low-def as DVD, and most viewers will probably never notice the difference between these compressed files and the full Blu-ray versions, unless they watch them simultaneously side-by-side. If you have an HD set, these downloads are well worth it compared to plain DVD. Even when I have the chance to download the full Blu-ray, I opt for the compressed file.

      The best thing of course would be to have a choice! I still think the old Russian AllOfMP3 site set the standard for media webshops in that regard: a choice of compression rates and file formats, or the raw uncompressed file, priced by the MB. I'd like online movie stores to offer downloads in formats suitable for portable players, DVD, HDTV (720p and 1080p), with or without compression, etc. And of course, no DRM and download to own. If they offer that, I'd stop bothering with Usenet or torrents, and I'd happily pay close to the full price for movies ($20-25).
    • I've converted a bunch of 1080p BR movies down to 720p at a bitrate of around 5000kbps. I've tested all sorts of different bitrates and I can't notice a difference between 5000kbps and 8000kbps - 9000kbps etc. (other than in a few specific scenes). At 5000kbps, all of the files that I've converted have been between 3.5 GB and 5 GB. I'd say that 7.5 GB will look fine and probably a lot better than DVD. I know all of my rips look much better than any DVD that I've compared them to.
    • H.264 vs. MPEG-2 (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)
      DVD uses MPEG-2 video compression. This comparison [s2000.ws] shows that for standard-definition material, H.264 looks as good at 1 Mbps as MPEG-2 looks at 2 Mbps. This should compensate for the HD picture (1280x720) being over twice as big as DVD (704x480).
  • So... what happens to the downloaded movies that you've "bought" once the inevitable PS4 comes out? Would you be able to redownload the films or simply move the old hard drive into the new device? For all we know, Sony's license to distribute the films may not cover successive devices.

    Of course, then there's the matter of downloaded content on other systems like the Xbox 360...
    • So... what happens to the downloaded movies that you've "bought" once the inevitable PS4 comes out?

      I imagine these downloads are treated like all other content on the PSN, they are linked to your account. You are allowed to activate your downloadable content on up to 5 devices so I imagine you could simply sign into your new PS4 when it comes out and re-download your content.

      On a similar note, two other friends and I have all activated our PSN accounts on all of our PS3s and we share DLC all the time. I'm saving my other two activations in case my PS3 goes bad or the day I say "Hey look at my new PS4!

      • Not all content on PSN is like that. Warhawk for example can only be activated on 1 system. Movies may turn out to be the same way.
  • Good thing I just slapped in that new 500GB hard drive to my PS3. w00t w00t.
  • I tried this on the xbox and hated it. First you have to download about 4gigs which takes time, that's 4 gigs coming off your own internet connection if you happen to have a monthly limit. For xbox once you start watching the movie you need to finish it in like 2 days or it auto-deletes. That's right you can just watch part of it, go do something else and be like "oh I have to finish that movie I paid $$$$" for only to find out it's disappeared.

    The deal breaker is the price. at 17.99$ might as well just buy

  • Is any HD movie worth a 50% premium over SD? $2 more (to rent, $3.99 SD, $5.99HD)?

    When I first saw the Matrix on a very low-quality rip, it was not substantially changed by the DVD version, or even my current Blu-Ray version (thanks WB for the HD/BluRay swap!) . It is rather appalling when Netflix is on the same system and you get streaming movies for $8/mo. That's what, 2 SD rentals? If Sony priced the HD rentals at SD rates, they might actually compete with the value proposition of Netflix.

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