Nialli over at Virgin Media High Definition HD recently blogged about how Apple TV has recently made HD TV series available on its platform. This prompted me to have a look at the current options available in the UK for on-demand High-Definition movies.
If I wanted to watch a movie right now, in HD (and not on dodgy download), what are my options? Assuming I can’t be bothered going to my local Blockbusters, there seem to be four services I could use:
- Virgin Media Filmflex – provided you are in a cabled area and have a V+ HD subscription
- Xbox LIVE Marketplace – provided you have an Xbox and a decent broadband connection
- BT Vision – provided you have a BT home hub
- Sky Anytime – provided you have a Sky+ HD subscription to their movie channels. I’ve not included regular Sky Movies HD as these aren’t on-demand.
Here’s a breakdown of how many HD movies each service currently offers:
Note I didn’t compare Tiscali TV (who have over 1000 movies on-demand but don’t say on their website whether any of these are in HD), or Apple TV (since I don’t have Apple TV and their website also doesn’t list HD movies).
The Xbox LIVE Marketplace easily wins here, with 114 movies available now in HD. Virgin Media is a poor second with 25 HD movies. BT Vision and Sky Anywhere have fewer than 20 each.
As a percentage of total movies available, the Xbox LIVE Marketplace wins again (excluding Sky Anytime, which has only SD or only HD depending on your subscription):
Virgin Media has only 5% of its VOD movies available in HD, compared with Xbox’s impressive 43%. BT Vision is even worse at a paltry 2%.
The cost of a rental is the only thing that seems pretty consistent (although again, not including Sky Anytime as its VOD movies are “free” provided you subscribe to the Sky Movies packages):
Although all around the £3 mark, BT Vision is cheapest for standard HD movies at £2.88 per rental. Xbox is cheapest for new releases at £4.59. Virgin Media charges a penny shy of a fiver for a new release, making it the most expensive option here.
For range and variety of on-demand HD movies, the Xbox LIVE Marketplace offers the best choice. It’s also cheapest for new-release movies. Best of all, you only need a half-decent broadband connection to have access to all this content: no need for a BT-only phone, Sky dish, or Cable-only service. Even if you never play a single videogame, the Xbox as a high-definition media server is a great investment, provided your broadband isn’t capped or limited too much when you fancy a movie.