Blockbuster is rising to the challenge posed by cable companies and Netflix by launching a movie rental service via set-top boxes.

It is offering a STB made by 2Wire that plays movies downloaded over a broadband line.

Available only in the US, Blockbuster is offering the MediaPoint digital media player for "free" if you pre-pay for 25 movies at the cost of USD $99.

It claims the movies available will be "hot new releases".

After the initial 25 rentals, films will be available from USD $1.99 each.

Able to use either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, Blockbuster says the set-top box delivers DVD quality to your screen.

Since it’s a download rather than streaming, users will get full quality even if slower internet connections mean downloads will take longer.

It will be interesting to see how Blockbusters’ decision to avoid a monthly subscription works, especially with regard to the timing of new movie releases.

Netflix’s service is both streaming and by subscription.

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