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Amazon.com To Offer 500 HD Downloads

In the latest over-the-top competitive threat to cable VOD services, Amazon.com announced Tuesday that it will offer 500 HD titles for rent and purchase via the Web, TiVo DVRs, Sony and Panasonic HDTVs, and other Internet-connected devices.

The content is licensed from major studios and networks including Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Showtime Networks.

The 500 titles comprises a mix of movies and TV shows. TV shows - available only for purchase at $2.99 each - include Showtime's Californication and The Tudors and The CW's Gossip Girl.

Recent movie releases, available for rental only through the service, include Frost/Nixon, Twilight, Ghost Town and Yes Man. Older movies in HD format include The Sum of All Fears and Top Gun.

Movie rentals are either $3.99 or $4.99, and the "vast majority" of HD titles provide Dolby Digital 5.1 audio for full surround-sound, according to Amazon.com.

"Our customers have been asking us for two things: HD and the ability to watch movies and TV shows instantly on their television," Bill Carr, Amazon's vice president music and video, said in a statement.

Devices compatible with Amazon's service include the Roku digital video player, TiVo Series3, HD, and HD XL DVRs, and the Sony Bravia Internet Video Link and Panasonic's VieraCast-enabled HDTVs.

TiVo, for one, has offered videos for download from Amazon since 2007.

"Our customers now have access to a new world of ultra-high-quality HD television and movie choices, many of which are available when the DVDs are released, something no other DVR, cable, or satellite company can match," Tara Maitra, general manager and vice president of content services and advertising sales, said in a statement.

TiVo subscribers must log on to Amazon.com to activate their broadband-connected DVRs. They can then use the remote to search and browse the Amazon selections right from the TV screen.