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Dell enters movie download market

Plans to pre-load more films on PCs

By Jennifer Netherby -- Video Business, 10/23/2008

OCT. 23 | No. 2 computer company Dell today launched an online movie download store with CinemaNow and said it plans to offer more digital films preloaded on its PCs, starting with Warner Bros.’ Matrix trilogy and Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man trilogy.

The move follows Dell’s inclusion of a digital copy of Paramount Digital Entertainment’s Iron Man on select laptop and desktop computers as a free add-on last month.

The latest pre-loaded movies will be offered in bundles starting at $25 to consumers when they buy select Dell laptop and desktop PCs. In addition to the offerings from Warner and Sony, Universal Studios’ Fast and Furious collection will be available, and Paramount Pictures will offer a romantic comedy and comedy bundle.

Dell will regularly add new movie bundles, with films chosen by the studios.

Users can watch the movies on their PC or make copies for viewing on up to four other PCs or Windows Media-compatible handheld devices. Some of the films also will be able to be transferred to other select devices, such as the Xbox 360 for TV viewing as part of Dell’s deal with CinemaNow.

It’s unclear whether users will be able to use Dell’s recently launched Qflix DVD drive, which burns films with CSS copy protection, to burn the pre-loaded films to disc.

Dell customers also will be able to download additional films through Dell’s movie store, powered by CinemaNow. CinemaNow began offering downloads to Dell subscribers last month for the Qflix DVD drives.

Some had expected Dell to launch a new open-standard download format to compete with Apple iTunes this fall. BusinessWeek reported in August that former Apple executive Tim Bucher was leading an initiative at Dell to break Apple’s hold on the digital music and movie market.

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