High Definition Comes to Amazon Video On Demand

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Amazon.com is taking its digital video rental service high-def, announcing that its Video On Demand service is now offering more than 500 movies and televisions shows in high-definition format. And those selections are available across the range of devices that support Amazon Video On Demand, including selected TiVo and Roku set-top boxes as well as selected Sony and (now) Panasonic televisions.

Material available in high definition includes movies like Frost/Nixon and Twilight, as well as television series like Smallville and Gossip Girl. High-definition movies are available for $3.99 to $4,99; television shows are available for $2.99 each.

“Our customers have been asking us for two things: HD and the ability to watch movies and TV shows instantly on their television,” said Amazon music and video VP Bill Carr, in a statement. “Today we are thrilled to begin offering HD and to add the distinctive Panasonic Viera Cast-enabled HDTV lineup to the growing number of televisions and devices supported by Amazon Video On Demand.”

Amazon Video On Demand currently offers more than 40,000 movie and television titles; the company plans to expand its range of high-definition offerings in the coming months. However, high-definition selections are currently only available for television-based solutions: PC users can get the same content, but only in standard definition. TiVo users will be able to rent HD movies with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, while users of the inexpensive Roku set-top box will appear at 720p resolution. All the television-based solutions enable users to browse and order movies directly from their televisions, rather than managing a queue through an Internet-connected computer.

Adding high-definition content ratchet’s up Amazon’s competition for the digital video download market; if Amazon is able to continue integrating its offering with televisions and set-top boxes, if could position itself as a de facto video streaming service that consumers come to expect will be widely available to them—a status Netflix, Apple, and others would also like to achieve.

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