Apple TV is no Blu-Ray killer

So Blu-Ray's won the hi-def format war, but it'll immediately be eclipsed by HD downloads, right? Maybe not. Those of you who tuned in last week

So Blu-Ray's won the hi-def format war, but it'll immediately be eclipsed by HD downloads, right? Maybe not. 

Those of you who tuned in last week will recall I was rather excited by the arrival of a new software update for my Apple TV. Thanks to a sneaky US iTunes Store account, it means I can download hi-def movies direct to my TV. Who needs discs?

Well, it seems that I need them. This weekend I sat down in front of Apple TV to watch Transformers in hi-def. It was easy enough to find - there's a limited selection of HD movies available at the moment - and downloading it was a simple one-click affair. Watching it, however, was a lot more difficult.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. I'd already tried iTunes movie downloads direct to my MacBook and they worked beautifully, buffering for less than a minute before letting me watch the joyously funny Superbad. It looked great and played without a glitch.

Hi-def is another matter. After 30 minutes of waiting for Transformers to tell me it was ready to play, I gave up - the download had only reached 17%. So I watched a DVD instead. When DVD had finished, I switched back to Apple TV. The download was 70% complete, and i was invited to start viewing - but by that time I was ready for bed.

Perhaps it was my 8Mb broadband connection not living up to its name, or my geographical distance from the US iTunes Store, or the fact that I opted to download a 144minute action film in HD (presumably a pretty big file).

Perhaps I'm just too demanding for an on-demand HD service.

Not that I'm giving up on Apple TV, you understand. It's still quicker than waiting for Blu-Ray discs to arrive from Lovefilm's rent-by-post service. But it goes to show that even if have a speedy broadband connection, there's still life in discs - not to mention broadcast HDTV.

Read about Xbox Live's new HD download service in the UK