From Friday, Japan will become the first country in the world to allow movie fans to download high-definition films and burn them at full quality to their own Blu-ray disks.

The new service comes from a video-rental firm called Tsutaya and it will offer just over 400 titles beginning on 19 December to net-connected video decks with appropriate disk writers.

No quality hit

Naturally, viewers will have to put up with copy protection, but Tsutaya says copies made to Blu-ray will not be downgraded in any way. There will be a limit of only two copies per download, however.

Pricing seems a little high at ¥3,675 (£27) per film, so Tsutaya is clearly hoping the convenience of not having to trek to the video shop for new films will outweigh the disadvantage of not having any proper packaging to caress.

The service will also allow copies to DVDs and memory cards, although those will be transferred at a quality below full high definition.