iTunes rolls out high-def movie downloads

Film purchases in high definition will cost $19.99 and rentals, which will be available a month after the movie's release, will cost $4.99.

As expected, iTunes customers (Windows|Mac) can now buy and rent films in high definition, Apple said Thursday.

Customers can buy hit titles for $19.99 and rentals will cost $4.99. Rentals will be available a month after a film is released on DVD. Prior to this offer, high-def films were only available for rental.

The high-def quality movies are compatible with Macs and PCs. But iPhones and iPods can still only play films in standard definition, the company said. Each high-def film comes with a standard-def copy to play on Apple's handhelds.

"Customers have made HD content on iTunes a hit, with over 50 percent of TV programming being purchased in HD when available," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services in a statement.

As my colleague Declan McCullagh notes, the $20 price for HD costs less than Blu-ray discs but the large HD files are likely to eat up a lot of hard-drive space.

Apple's downloads use more compression than Blu-ray so that means a falloff in quality.

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