Enjoy Music, Movies, and Games On Demand

Why bother wasting gas? Courtesy of digital distribution -- the ability to download multimedia content straight to your PC or video game system -- summer vacationers desperate for entertainment can kill cravings without even leaving the beach. Here are our favorite ways to beam down tunes, flicks, and thumb-waggling epics.

For first-run originals and trailblazing indie efforts, you can’t beat set-top services like the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo’s WiiWare. But PC owners can enjoy an even greater selection of European imports (GamersGate.com), old-school classics (GOG.com), strategy titles (ImpulseDriven.com), and both amateur and big-budget smashes (SteamPowered.com) day-and-date with retail release.

What cable subscription? ABC, CBS, and NBC all offer prime-time favorites from their homepages, while CNN.com and ESPN.com provide hours of free reporting. Hulu.com and Joost.com further deliver hundreds of free films, from Jumanji to Higher Learning, while JaMan.com is tops for foreign/indie alternatives. Spoiled Netflix subscribers can also stream 12,000-plus flicks.


Though iTunes remains a perennial favorite with online shoppers, great deals can be had via Amazon.com MP3, WalMart.com, and eMusic. Subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody also offer unlimited access to millions of tracks, while Pandora and Slacker provide hours of streaming audio, and Last.fm offers handy introductions to new artists.

* Receive 20 percent off your first order at GOG.com and 20 percent off all games at GamersGate.com! For GOG.com, American Way readers enter FLYAA at checkout, and for GamersGate.com, enter GG-AA-20-NOW. The discount for both ends July 15.