Amazon "Unbox" Debuts

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Amazon has launched its video download service, "Amazon Unbox," and is offering TV and movie downloads from a slew of network and studio providers. The service will allow users to play downloaded high-quality videos of their favorite programs on portable devices that use Microsoft's Windows Media software.

The service offers old and current TV programs for $1.99. Network partners include CBS, PBS, Fox and its cable networks, and cable networks from MTV Networks, Discovery, A&E, Scripps, E!. Absent from the list are ABC and NBC.

Unbox is offering most movies for $7.99-$1.99, cheaper than the prices for existing movie download services such as Movielink.com. All of the major movie studios - 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., Lionsgate and MGM - are participating except for Disney.

Amazon has been expected to launch the service for months. It says Unbox offers "DVD-quality picture" that is superior to other services, although it does not allow users the option to burn downloaded video to DVD. To help users deal with potentially lengthy download times, Unbox lets users buy video on one PC - at the office, for example - and download it to another through technology it calls "RemoteLoad."

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