Remember the tough old days when you used to have to drive all the way to Wal-Mart to buy a movie? (The average driving distance for the average American has to be under 15 miles, given the way Wal-Marts seem to be everywhere these days.) Thank goodness that if you want to buy a movie now, you can get it delivered immediately to your computer using the store’s new online Video Download service (currently still in beta testing but open to the public). Here you can download a full 480p version of current movies and television shows to your computer or laptop, or a Quarter VGA (320 by 240 pixel) version for your portable video player.
You can backup your downloaded file to a separate hard drive, or you can burn it onto a DVD (if you have a DVD burner). The copy protection will only let you play the DVD on the computer that is linked to your Wal-Mart Video Download account, so you can’t play the DVD on another computer or a standard DVD player. You can play it on your regular television, by connecting directly to your computer, or through the use of an adapter box. Wal-Mart has information on how to do this on the site.
Note that this is different from the hybrid service reported here last fall where you had to buy the physical DVD disc to get the download.
There are many sites on the Web that sell or rent downloaded movies, but Wal-Mart’s participation gives the practice a lot of credibility. If you like to collect movies, and want to be able to buy them online for download, this is a service that is worth checking out. As more and more US homes get broadband, the sale and rental business for movies soon may not rely on the physical DVD discs at all.