Q: Do you know if the fifth-generation iPod will get a firmware update to sync iTunes movie rentals?
A: Obviously it is impossible to say for certain what Apple’s plans are in this regard, but there does not appear to be any obvious technical reason that would prevent Apple from providing a firmware update for the fifth-generation iPod to support movie rentals.
It has been suggested that the iTunes movie rentals are in a higher video quality, but further investigation would seem to indicate that this is not the case. Most of the newer rentals are now using anamorphic encoding to provide a higher-resolution wide-screen format, but this encoding was fully supported by the fifth-generation iPod as well—it was just that much of the older content from the iTunes Store did not take advantage of this.
Further, for those movies that are available for both purchase and rental, there appear to be no differences between the relative file sizes or published resolutions of these movies. The following, for instance, is a comparison between the purchased and rented versions of “Enemy of the State”
The lack of any differences here would seem to indicate that iTunes movie rentals are technically compatible with the 5G iPod, however a firmware update would be required to provide support for the new version 3 of the Fairplay DRM on iTunes Store movie rentals.
So while we cannot say for certain whether or not Apple has any plans to provide an update for the fifth-generation iPod, there appear to be no reason why they could not do so.