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YouTube renting high definition movies from today

YouTube is now renting high definition films, with both new releases and classic movies on offer. And Fast Five.

Let's watch a movie! YouTube is now offering high-definition film rentals of new releases and classic movies. Head to youtube.com/movies and you can start watching the likes of Hanna, Fast Five and Exit Through the Gift Shop straight away, right in your browser.

There are more than a thousand films on offer, including Taxi Driver, Back to the Future, GoodFellas and CNET UK fave The Stath in The Bank Job. New releases are £3.49, with older films going for £2.49 in standard definition or £3.49 in high definition. That means it beats the pants off LoveFilm's streaming service, which suffers from terrible video quality unless you're using the new iPad app.

Once you've rented a film, you have 30 days to start watching. Once you've pressed play you have 48 hours to finish the film, and in that time you can watch it as many times as you want.

YouTube has kindly come up with themed collections to help you pick a film, such as 80s Flashback -- featuring Caddyshack, The Breakfast Club and nerd fantasy Weird Science -- and Insanely Awesome Car Chases, including The Blues Brothers, Bullitt and Mad Max 2. So that's our weekend sorted.

We're the first country to access the rental streaming service outside of North America. Hollywood studios signed up include Warner Bros, Sony and Lionsgate, as well as British studios such as Metrodome and Revolver.

YouTube also offers a range of free films alongside the rentals. There are some offbeat gems in among the dross, from notorious swimming pool snogfest Wild Things to fan-made Lord of The Rings prequel The Hunt For Gollum. Even better, the free catalogue is stuffed with classics, from Nosferatu and Battleship Potemkin to Buster Keaton's The General and Charlie Chaplin's The Kid.