Amazon opens ‘Unbox’ online movie store

As expected, Amazon.com today launched its Amazon Unbox video store. The web-based service offers TV shows and movies from more than 30 studios and networks.

TV shows cost $1.99 per episode, and most movies range from $7.99 to $14.99. Movies can also be “rented” for $3.99. The “DVD-quality” movies and shows must be watched on a PC using Amazon’s software. Downloads also come with a second file that can only be viewed on one of a handful of Windows Media-compatible video players from Creative, Toshiba, Archos and iRiver. Movies cannot be burned to DVDs for playback in a DVD player. The average TV show weighs in at 600MB in file size and is expected to take 30 minutes to 2 hours to download, while a 2-hour movie is around 2.4GB in size and takes from 2-7 hours to download.

Apple is widely expected to launch its own online movie service at a special event in San Francisco on Tuesday. Recent reports claim that Apple has yet to sign the majority of Hollywood studios due to wrangling over movie prices.

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