CinemaNow is (primarily) an online service where you can view movies for a fee. Part of Sonic Solutions, the site offers both purchase and rental options. With its ties to the Sonic Solutions software business, you can even purchase a movie and burn it to a DVD. CinemaNow offers a library of more than 14,000 TV and movie titles from more than 250 sources including major producers such as Fox, Disney, MGM, NBC, and Warner Brothers. But the service has made news in the past week for three new initiatives.
LG announced two new Blu-ray players — the BD370 and BD390 — that have network features that let you access CinemaNow directly from the player without the need for a separate set top box, media player, or computer. The players also offer support for Netflix and YouTube.
Sonic Solutions also announced a partnership with Widevine to offer movies on USB drives instead of the familiar DVD discs. The drives even include an embedded media player application, so you can watch the movies on just about any PC.
Finally, CinemaNow has worked with NVIDIA to offer 3D content on PCs with the required configuration, including NVIDIA 3-D Vision and Vision-Ready displays such as the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ and the ViewSonic FuHzion VX265wm displays. Currently in demonstration, the company says that it intends to provide professional 3D development tools to enable electronic distribution of 3D movies and other content.
There’s a take-away from all these announcements. CinemaNow is not willing to let Netflix get out in front of the pack on offering broadband connection to movies and other video content. CinemaNow already offers high definition content, and is looking to add 3D as the demand for the content spills out of the local movie theaters and into the living room. And the USB device shows that the company is willing to throw some spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, providing an alternate method of distributing content. (I don’t think it will be successful, unless you can stick it into a USB port on most televisions, because people don’t yet want PCs in their living room, but I’ve been very wrong before.)
If CinemaNow keeps pushing the envelope, Netflix might have to start looking over its shoulder. (Now, if only Sonic Solutions could match the Netflix flat-rate subscription model, we’d really have a race.)