By GARY GENTILE AP Business Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co.'s MovieBeam set-top box is coming back in an upgraded version that clearly aims to be a Blockbuster in a box.
The box receives movies through over-the-air broadcasts and stores them on a hard drive. Disney started testing the service in three cities in 2003, then put it on hiatus in April.
This time, Disney is relaunching the box as a separate company, MovieBeam Inc., with several new new financial backers, including Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel Corp., and is expanding the service with plans to eventually make it available on laptop computers and other devices.
The new set-top box can show movies in high definition and display DVD extras such as directors' commentaries.
Unlike cable TV video-on-demand services that keep movie files on a central computer and send them to an individual consumer when ordered, MovieBeam boxes come preloaded with 100 films.
About 10 new movies are sent each week over an unused part of the broadcast TV signal using a technology called datacasting.
Consumers will pay $199 for the box after a rebate, and a $29 activation fee. After that, they pay video store prices for the movies they watch. A rental is good for a 24-hour period.