TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Renting Movies With a Box and a Beam

Renting Movies With a Box and a Beam

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 14 Jun 2006 23:29:16 -0400

David Pogue
The New York Times
June 1, 2006

YOU know the trouble with movies in America these days? There just
aren't enough ways to see them. If you miss a movie in the theater,
it's gone forever -- unless you can find a video-rental store,
DVD-by-mail service, cable movie station, pay-per-view service,
video-on-demand channel, Internet movie download site, hotel room or

Thank goodness, then, that a company backed by Disney, Intel and Cisco
has stepped in to fill the breach with yet another movie-delivery
mechanism. It's a slim, silver, good-looking $200 set-top box called

You connect the MovieBeam player directly to your TV set. Then,
whenever you're in the mood for a movie, you choose from the list of
100 movies on the player's hard drive. Preposterous as this may sound,
there's no monthly fee and no minimum; you're billed only for the
movies you watch ($4 for a new release, $2 for an old one). You can
rewind, pause, fast-forward and replay a movie you've bought -- for 24
hours from your first glimpse of the opening credits.

Each week, seven or eight new movies magically show up in the
player's list, pushing an equal number of old ones off to movie

This wireless movie-delivery feature gives MovieBeam its name. The
company doesn't require an Internet connection or even a computer.
Nor does the service depend on what cable or satellite setup you have,
if any. How, then, can it send enormous, multigigabyte movies to
MovieBeam owners nationwide?

Answer: Very cleverly. MovieBeam's movies are encoded in the broadcast
signal of PBS stations across the country. You're actually receiving
MovieBeam's movies at this very moment -- but they're invisible unless
you have the MovieBeam box. (MovieBeam pays PBS for these piggybacking

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