Click to viewOver the weekend, I checked out three versions of the Transformers movie: standard-def and high-def instantaneous downloads to the Vudu box with 4-Mbps net connection, as well as the HD DVD of the movie, playing through the Xbox 360. As you can see in the image above, the so-called HD experience from Vudu wasn't one that could come close to comparing with the HD DVD playback. In fact, it was awfully hard to see a vivid difference between that and the perfectly fine (and $2 cheaper) SD download.
A lot of people (including Steve Jobs) like to talk about the imminent arrival of HD downloads, a magic talisman that will help peace-loving technophiles avoid the atrocities of the last shiny-silver-disc format war. But as we've discussed and others have researched, bandwidth, and not resolution, determine final quality.