Vudu's new HDX 1080p movies—promised to be "Blu-ray quality"—go live today. David Pogue has the first look, and while HDX movies are not literally Blu-ray quality (which would be an impossible with our crappy broadband), they are indeed "insanely sharp" and compared to other movie downloads, it's like "seeing a movie on VHS videotape and DVD side by side."
No wonder though, the bit rate averages around 9Mbps and spikes to 20Mbps during action scenes, which totally blows away the competition. Still, that giant flood of data takes a while to squeeze through our tiny broadband pipes, so one downside is that the movie needs a bit of lead time before it's ready to be watched, though you can start the download process remotely from a computer, so it can be ready when you get home from work.
Right now, there's only 65 movies in HDX, though every new movie released will be available in HDX. And while six bucks is pricey for a rental, it's almost worth just to push Vudu to keep breaking new ground in video downloads. Pogue says that it's coming to Best Buy this week, and if you buy one from there before Dec. 31, you get your first $US200 of movies for free. [NYT]