Much has been made of the role the high cost of Blu-ray Discs has played in hampering the high def format’s uptake.

Yet if reports from Engadget are borne out, VUDU is shortly to offer HD downloads “equal in quality to Blu-ray movies”.

The US-based internet video download service is said to be already currently in private beta testing for the new content format, which is dubbed HDX.

While VUDU has not confirmed the report, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) would certainly have something to say about such claims if it were to do so.

Just last month, the BDA reacted swiftly to the DISH Network’s claims that its “full” HDTV 1080p/25Hz image matched Blu-ray quality.

Whether the BDA has any need to feel threatened remains to be seen.

This was the view espoused by David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics, who suggested satellite providers are competing primarily with cable and IPTV companies, and not with the Blu-ray Disc format itself.

Yet even if VUDU does start offering HD downloads approaching Blu-ray quality would the prospect of approximately three-hour download times appeal to many people?

The company currently offers SD as well as HD downloads but it appears it is aiming for the high-end home theater owner with the new HDX codec.

While streamed SD content can be played immediately, HD downloads require several hours to begin.

Not surprising since the downloads would be over 6GB, requiring over two hours to download in most cable cases, and over four hours for most DSL users.

We’d be interested to hear what would you would prefer – a handy, albeit still pricey disc, or a three hour wait to watch HD content on demand?

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