Australian users will get their first taste of Sony’s new video download service when the entertainment giant launches the video store on PlayStation Network early on Thursday morning.

The service will allow users to register three PlayStation Portable (PSP) devices and one PlayStation 3 (PS3) console and rent or purchase movies for playback on those devices.

Sony says the service will launch with 600 movies to begin with, with 50 new titles added each month.

Standard-definition (SD) movies – with a 720×576-pixel frame size – are said to be around 1.5GB to download while high-definition (HD) videos at 1280×720-pixels (720p) will be up to 5GB to download.

Film rental prices are expected to be around $5.99 but will be as cheap as $3.99 for some titles.

Renting movies involves the movie appearing in your movie list and will stay there for 14 days. Once you begin watching a movie, you have 48 hours to complete viewing before it is removed.

Movies for PSP devices can only be purchased, where prices here start at $7.99 although new releases such as Inglorious Basterds will sell for more. Only PS3 consoles will support movie rentals.

Sony will now go up against the likes of Telstra, Microsoft and Apple, which all have a video download or video-on-demand service either through the PC or through specific hardware such as the Xbox 360 (Microsoft) and AppleTV (Apple).

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