Beam Us Up

One thing is for sure: that guy at Blockbuster who yelled at me for repeatedly renting the Chronicles of Riddick is about to be looking for a new job, because the retail video rental store is officially an endangered species. First came Netflix, which started the "no late-fee" revolution. Well, now there's MovieBeam, a set-top box that comes pre-loaded with 100 movies and automatically swaps out the 10 oldest movies for 10 new releases every week—and some of the content will even be available in HD. It's basically your own personal pay-per-view-palooza. Here's how it works: You buy the box at your local retailer for $250 (but you get a $50 rebate) and the next day they FedEx you a unit loaded with their newest offerings. The box automatically updated itself once a week, swapping out the ten oldest movies with ten new ones via a datacasting service that uses television and radio frequencies to push lots of data to multiple destinations simultaneously. The service costs $7 a month and between $2 and $5 per movie. —Joe Brown