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Download Downer: The Limits Of At-Home Movies

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Download Downer: The Limits Of At-Home Movies

Download Downer: The Limits Of At-Home Movies

Download Downer: The Limits Of At-Home Movies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/104787138/104797196" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Hand holding television remote. i

Even having tons of technology doesn't guarantee you can download the movie you want to watch at home. iStockphoto.com hide caption

toggle caption iStockphoto.com
Hand holding television remote.

Even having tons of technology doesn't guarantee you can download the movie you want to watch at home.

iStockphoto.com

Read the All Tech Considered blog, where Omar Gallaga, who covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman, has more on downloading movies at home.

When we moved into our house a year and a half ago, my husband, Christopher Libertelli, spent quite a bit of sweat equity — and, oh yeah, cash — building what must be one of the world's most comprehensive home entertainment setups.

Our living room now features a 52-inch plasma screen hooked up to at least six machines: a TiVo digital recorder; a Mac Mini, which allows us to stream Internet content; an Apple TV, which allows us to access iTunes music and video; a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player; and a Slingbox, which allows us to watch our TV remotely. There are also digital tuners and WiFi wireless, which, of course, links us to an underlying high-speed Internet connection.

And that's not all: Through our TiVo, we have accounts with Netflix and Amazon's Unbox download services. So you'd think we would now be able to download just about every movie known to man.

Not so.

Before I launch into my tale of false promises in the movie download business, I should note that we've had some notable success. We recently downloaded the high-definition version of Notorious through iTunes — and Wendy and Lucy through Netflix. We also managed to download the second season of Mad Men, though because of Apple's strict copyright management rules, it's stuck on our computer and can't be viewed on my laptop.

But more typical is the experience we had one recent weekend, when we decided to look for the 2002 film City of God. It's a movie about two boys growing up in Brazil that was nominated for four Academy Awards — so it's neither too new nor too obscure to expect from any good movie library.

An iTunes search pulled up City of Joy instead — a movie featuring Patrick Swayze. My husband vetoed that substitution. Amazon offered a host of movies that began with "City of," but didn't end in "God."

"Nobody said digital convergence was going to be easy," Christopher explained when I expressed frustration. "They just said it was going to happen."

Next, we tried Netflix. To do that, we needed the services of yet another device — our laptop — where we're required to log in to its Web site. And to download any movie, you must first put it in what Netflix calls an "instant queue." But, as it turns out, City of God is not available for download — only as a DVD rental, and we're not assuaged by noninstant gratification.

Blockbuster's site required its own software download and, in the end, also didn't offer the movie as a download.

When I asked whether we had exhausted all our options, even my husband couldn't think of any other way.

"We've given Hollywood four different ways to give us the movie that we want," he said, "and they've decided that we're not worthy."

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