Downloading movies to watch on your TV

Our entertainment choices continue to gravitate toward the Internet, that means you don't have to wait very long to watch a movie or TV show these days.

You can find your favorite TV shows on our Web site,

We teamed up with Consumer Reports to check out two devices that promise to make downloading movies easy.

Dana Unger and her family watch a lot of movies on their television, but they don't rent DVDs or use cable on demand. Instead they use something new called Apple TV.

"It's just so easy to rent it and watch it, whenever you want to watch it," said Unger.

Consumer Reports' Rich Fisco checked out Apple TV, which consists of a hard drive that can connect wirelessly to the Internet, as well as to your computer.

He also looked at VUDU, which is similar, though it doesn't come with a wireless connection.

"With both of these devices, you can rent a movie and it will store itself on the device. Once you select a movie, you can almost instantly start viewing it," said Fisco.

After you start watching, you have 24 hours to view the movie, then it automatically deletes.

The cost of renting a movie varies. For new releases, both services charge $3.99 and somewhat more for high definition.

But Consumer Reports finds the picture quality isn't quite as good as Blu-ray DVDs or the best high-definition TV programs.

"They have to compress it to get it to you in a timely fashion so it doesn't take hours to download," said Fisco.

As for selection, VUDU has some 5,000 titles. Apple TV has far fewer, around 1,200. But it offers access to things VUDU doesn't, like music, podcasts, and photos stored on your computer as well as YouTube. Dana Unger likes all that, but there's one thing she likes even more.

"Now I don't have to worry about losing DVDs anymore," said Unger.

Consumer Reports says it's a good idea to check out available movies on VUDU or Apple TV before you purchase the device. With VUDU you have to pay a minimum $20 subscriber fee to do this. With Apple TV, it doesn't cost you anything but you do have to fill out a free online registration before you can see what movies are available on iTunes.


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