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Video Ezy on track for in-store VOD

Video Ezy has moved one step closer to its promise of in-store digital downloads.

Video Ezy has moved one step closer to its promise of in-store digital downloads.

The rental giant has spent the past two years planning its in-store service that will deliver latest release movies able to be downloaded for playback on a dedicated in-home set top box.

This week Video Ezy announced it has signed a crucial contract for the software platform that will form the heart of the "Video Ezy Electronic Video Rental service."

Irish company DigiSoft.tv has been signed to supply the IPTV delivery platform and set top box middleware that will form the heart of the service.

While Australia's broadband woes are frustrating the general take-up of IPTV in Australia, Video Ezy believes it has an opportunity to succeed with a middle road that limits the digital delivery to its more than 1000 stores across Australia and new Zealand.

That means you will still need to make the trip up the road to your local Video Ezy or Blockbuster store to pick up a few movies (Video Ezy bought the Blockbuster chain in 2007). At the store you will look up movies on a kiosk screen then download them to portable storage.

According to Digisoft, this will be either a "branded USB or iPOD type storage system". The movies will be over 1GB each in standard definition, so it looks like Video Ezy will offer a range of different options for storage capacity.

You will need to purchase a dedicated set top box to watch them when you get home, although the whole process will have the advantage of removing the horrors of late fees, as you only need to activate and pay for a movie when you choose to watch it.

So there are swings and roundabouts. You need to add up the amount you spend each year on late fees and figure out if that covers the cost of the Video Ezy hardware, which has been reported to cost around $A550.

Details of the service are still sketchy, and it does not look like Video Ezy will have it available in "early 2008" as they promised last year. Local executives could not be reached for comment.

However the Digisoft announcement shows that the project is still on track. Announcing the deal at a broadcasting industry conference in Las Vegas, Video Ezy MD Paul Uniacke said, "Video Ezy primary objective has always been to give our customers a service that is dynamic and innovative with a focus on quality and value for money for excellence in home entertainment. The Electronic Video Rental service provides our customers with a new compelling and dynamic content delivery platform that offers them a truly flexible rental model,"

"The set top box solution from Digisoft provides our customers with a range of feature rich applications combined with support for the latest high definition technology TV viewing and gives us the flexibility to adopt new advanced online delivery models in the future," he concluded.