YouTube has launched an online movie rental service in the UK. New releases cost £3.49 and most older films cost £2.49, although there are a few old classics that cost 99p or are free to watch.

Rental requires a free Google Account and payment is taken via Google Checkout. Each rental is available for 30 days, but this drops to 48 hours once playback has begun — movies can be watched any number of times in this two-day period though.

Rented movies can be watched on a desktop or laptop computer, and an Android smartphone/tablet.

Movies rented using a computer can only be streamed over the internet, which is fine for home viewing, but not much use with a 3G USB modem — unless it’s one of Three’s tariff’s with truly unlimited data.

Movies rented with an Android smartphone or tablet, however, can be downloaded and watched offline, making it possible to stack up a few movies for later watching on a trip.

YouTube’s prices and terms are more or less identical to iTunes when it comes to movie rentals, but iTunes has the edge in that all movies can be download and some are also available in HD.

[YouTube movie rentals]