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Movies: decoding the digital download

Advances in technology are bridging the gap between PC and TV.

March 23, 2008|Dawn C. Chmielewski | Times Staff Writer

If you're like most Americans, renting a movie involves driving somewhere or, if you're a determined couch potato, reaching into your mailbox.
Then you fire up the DVD player and that's that.
Hollywood would be overjoyed if video discs continued to hold their cachet, because they brought in $24.2 billion last year for the studios. And right now getting our at-home flick fixes from the Internet has limited appeal. Most of us would rather head to the store than endure the technological learning curve necessary to move a film from a PC to a TV. Or the hour or more that it can take to download a standard-length movie in the first place. Or the expense of buying and subscribing to all the required stuff.
Simply put, the alternatives are "not as easy as the convenience of a DVD," says James L. McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc.
But as Internet speeds get faster and superior devices and services become available, more and more consumers are willing to give it a try. The digital video store, after all, is always open. We can help you figure out how to shop there -- or how to decide whether you're ready.
For help unraveling it all, turn to Page C8.

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Inside: step-by-step guide

It's almost as easy as one, two, three.

1THE BASICS: Having a PC at home isn't enough. It has to be powerful enough -- as does your Internet connection -- and then there are the cords, cables and other accouterments to consider.

2THE SERVICES: There are several from which to choose, each with its own bells and whistles.

3THE DEVICES: You might think they look the same, but the set-top boxes that help deliver movies to your television set are different in their own ways.

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