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Vudu, another new digital movies-to-tv service which I skewered a bit in April, will be launching this month, and NYT and WSJ do their usual…

VuduVudu, another new digital movies-to-tv service which I skewered a bit in April, will be launching this month, and NYT and WSJ do their usual spate of stories. The problem about it being a box, another box, still remains. And it is priced at $400, and available online (Amazon.com) and through specialty retailers like Tweeter, Magnolia AV, MyerEmco and Ken Cranes. Prices for one-time rentals range from $0.99 – $3.99, and prices for purchased movies range from $4.99 – $19.99, depending on the age of the movie. The service has about 5,000 movies — compared with 1,500 movies on the Time Warner Cable “Movies on Demand” service and 3,500 on Movielink — and hooks right into a TV. No TV shows, which would probably have helped it grow.

WSJ: Downsides: As with other online-movie services, certain titles will vanish from the rental selection for months at a time while they are under contract to premium cable services such as HBO. The device must be near enough to an Internet connection to plug in; while wireless connections will work, setup is tricky.

NYT: Review from David Pogue: There are four really great things about the Vudu box. First, the picture quality is terrific, like a DVD. Second, the remote rocks. It has only four buttons, plus a clickable scroll wheel like the one on a computer mouse. Third, you pay by the movie, not by the month. Finally, Vudu movies begin playing instantly (that one is done by pre-storing the first 30 seconds of all movies on the device’s hard drive. The macro problem: the movie industry’s windowing policies which makes the rules of engagement tricky and inconsistent, so to speak…and that’s the problem with all these online/digital movie services.

USAT: I’m all for the convenience Vudu is promising, especially if it delivers more of the films I want to see. Still, it’s hard to justify the price of admission when there are so many other ways to catch a flick at home.

Vudu is based in Santa Clara, CA, and is venture-backed by Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital.

  1. I used it in beta. It's very easy and lightning fast. You also don't have to wait 40 minutes for a download. They're loading good movies every week – 5000 going to 10,000. TV comes later. It's for sale now. Popular Science online had a very interesting article, indicating how much more content and better quality VUDU has than Apple, who is their natural competitor. Apparently Apple only gets content from 2 of the big 6 movie content providers, while little VUDU has content from all six majors and fifteen independents. Also you have to buy movies if you use Apple, whereas most people only want to rent and not pay yearly subscriptions, and VUDU hits on all cylinders there. Netflix, Blockbuster, cable companies, x-box, etc. don't come anywhere near competing with this high-quality stuff. All the Disney for your kids and all the Universal.movies. you want. Downside, they pay more to get all of the content (not just 2 studios) and that costs more. If you don’t want to pay that much, that’s O.K. It’s not readily hackable. But don’t bitch and moan that someone brought out a really high end product and you have to pay more. If you want to rent any movie you can think of and it’ll stream in SD or HD with an easy and Apple-like interface one second after you push the select button, this is it. It is slick. If you Google it as I just did, you will find about 20 reviews already (NYT twice, WSJ, PCMag, PCWorld, MacWorld, Engaget, CNet, Laptop, etc.). David Pogue has a funny video showing them plowing over a Blockvuster store and being replaced by a tiny VUDU box. The more I use it, the better I like it, and I am not easy to please. I predict they’ll sell millions.

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  2. I am a little hesitant to go out and purchase a device to watch movies from. I did so a couple of years ago when MovieBeam came out. All was well until all of a sudden the box wouldn't connect to the service. I called and they said it was because of the California wildfires and to be patient. What I got for my patience (a month and a half later) was a letter informing me that Hollywood Video had purchased the service and was shutting it down. Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!!!

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