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Harry Potter and the Order of the HD DVD interactive features

If you love Harry Potter but are too scared to watch it alone, the HD DVD special edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix lets you message someone else who's watching it far away

One scary night in the dead of winter, our hero, let's call him Nate, is settling down for an evening of entertainment with the latest movie in his favourite book-to-movie franchise, Harry Potter. But he's afraid, he doesn't want to watch a movie as scary as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix alone. He needs a friend, but there's no one else at home. What will he do?

Luckily, Nate had the foresight to buy the film on HD DVD, which means he can watch it on his HD DVD player with a friend in a far away land and they can help each other overcome their fear. The Harry Potter HD DVD allows them to chat as the film is playing, and they can also share their favourite scenes with each other.

It's an impressive set of features, and even in broad daylight we've enjoyed playing with them. The live community screening is a really cool feature -- all you need to do is grab an online account with Warner Bros and then you can schedule a time to start watching the movie with friends. The person who sets up the screening is control of the playback, so they can pause and skip scenes.

You can also chat with each other, either with emoticons and some preset messages such as "Skip to the next chapter please" and "I like this bit", or if you have a computer, you can type proper messages that get sent to everyone's TV screen. Considering the global appeal of Harry Potter, we can see this feature being very popular.

The ability to share your favourite scenes is also likely to appeal to the Harry Potter audience, where everyone loves talking about their favourite characters and parts. So credit has to be given to Warner Bros on this -- it really understands the market for the Harry Potter HD DVD, even if most kids aren't as lucky as Nate to own one yet. Still, Christmas is coming... -Ian Morris