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 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.