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Video Marketplace is open for business

Where the 360 is concerned, it seems like good things come in spurts. Small Arms hit the arcade today, the Lost Planet multiplayer demo drops tomorrow, and now the Video Marketplace is online. We took a break from Small Arms to check it out. The Video Marketplace itself will be familiar to anyone who has used Marketplace before to download demos or videos. Getting there is easy enough, open up the Media blade, select Video Marketplace, and you're there.

The videos are divided among TV, movies, music videos, clips, and game videos. From these selections, videos can then be organized by studio, download rank, etc. Not all videos are available in HD, but a handy "HD Available" image is attached to all videos that do, so you won't have to go all the way to the download screen to find out. Interestingly, the "standard definition" content is actually 480p, not 480i, though it's possible that the 360 merely recognizes what connection you are using (VGA in our case). We loaded up a preview clip of Borat in about 15 seconds. The preview clips show up in a small window and include sound, which was missing from our earlier preview. Movies are available to watch 14 days after purchase, or 24 hours after selecting the "play" option. Frankly, we think that's a little stingy. There really isn't any reason you shouldn't be able to watch your movies for the entire period, but we digress.

And the big issue we've been waiting for: the price. TV shows, it seems, are 160 points ($2) for standard definition and 240 points ($3) for high definition. It seems like these prices apply regardless of length, so you'll pay the same 160 points for an hour long episode of CSI or a 15 minute episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Movies seem to be divided into two categories: old and new. Older movies run 240 points ($3) for standard definition and 360 points ($4.50) for HD. New movies, on the other hand, are 320 points ($4) for SD and 480 points ($6) for HD. When compared with most movie rental chains, the prices seem fair enough, though it probably won't convince anyone to drop their online rental services.

The SD Borat clip we downloaded wasn't the best quality, but it was passable. The HD Eragon trailer looked much better (and way better than the game, amirite?). We haven't actually downloaded any HD movies or TV, because, you know, we're not wealthy. Overall, the Video Marketplace is pretty much what you'd expect, and a welcome addition to the Xbox 360's growing list of features.

Anybody out there downloading TV or movies yet? Does the quality live up to your standards.

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