It's been an incredibly long time coming, but from today you can buy and rent movies from iTunes to use on your PC, Mac, iPod or Apple TV in the UK. It's been a year now since Apple TV was launched, and we've been moaning for all that time that without access to the film library, it's really just an over-priced doorstop.
Prices for movies start at £7 for older stuff, and jump to £11 for new releases, which are going to be available on the same day as the DVD comes out. If renting movies is more your bag, those start at £2.50 for old movies and rise to £3.50 for more modern ones. With rentals you get 30 days to start watching your download, and once you've started viewing, you have to finish within 48 hours -- pretty standard.
Now, we'd be foolish to ignore the fact that, once again, we UK residents are paying more for our media than our American counterparts. For example, The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear costs $2.99 (£1.52) to rent and $9.99 (£5.10) to buy on the US store. In the UK you can't rent it, and it costs £6.99 ($13.68) to buy -- that's £1 more expensive, even factoring in VAT. You can also buy that film from Play.com, for example, for £5 delivered, which really raises some questions about value for money. The good news is that high-definition versions are available via Apple TV, although predictably they cost £1 more.
In terms of selection, Apple claims there are 700 films available and this represents most of the recent output from the big-name movie studios. Interestingly, Universal's spat with Apple seems to still be going on, and movies from that studio, including the likes of the Bourne films, aren't available.
We don't want to sound too negative -- although we're sure we do -- about the arrival of the store, because we're really thrilled that finally movie downloads and rentals are available for our Apple products. We'll be taking a look at the downloads in the near future, assessing the quality and generally debating whether DVD has had its day. So keep an eye on the site. –Ian Morris