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Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

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    Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

    From http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/articles...d_services.php

    VUDU


    In September 2007, there was a new entry into the movie download market: VUDU. Like the Apple TV service, VUDU is accessed using a set-top box (STB) that connects directly to your television. VUDU has movies available for both purchase and rental. The set-top box is capable of outputting video at up to 1080p/24, and they now have over 100 movies available in high definition out of their library of over 6,000 movies. The set top box is $295, which allows you to store roughly 50 HD movies and unlimited rentals. Rentals are reasonably priced from $0.99 up to $5.99 for high definition new releases. Content for purchase (own) ranges from $4.99 up to $24.99 for high definition.

    Whether you rent or buy, you may be able to watch the movie immediately if your internet connection is fast enough because VUDU utilizes peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to distribute movie and TV content. With P2P, instead of downloading from a central server, the box downloads segments of the movie from other VUDU boxes connected to the internet.

    The main benefit of P2P distribution is in its distributed delivery of your movie. You are not relying on a single server (or group of servers) to have enough horsepower to deliver your movie along with hundreds or thousands of other simultaneous customers. This means that VUDU can scale quite well to much larger audiences without significant investments on the delivery side (servers, bandwidth, etc.), making it theoretically more future-proof than a client-server system.

    Also with VUDU, every single movie on their "system" has a starter stub stored on your box already, roughly the first 30 seconds of every movie. When you buy (or rent) a movie, that starter stub begins playing while the box connects to dozens of other VUDU boxes on the internet to download the subsequent segments of the movie.

    The video quality was excellent, even for SD fare. All of their content is encoded at 24 fps. SD video is 480p/24 and encoded with H.264 Main Profile while all HD content is 1080p/24 encoded with H.264 High Profile. In all honesty, when I first began testing the unit with SD programming back in November, it was not obvious to me that what I was watching wasn't HD. I've looked at all the major players in the movie download market, and the quality they are getting with their SD video is unsurpassed. The quality of their HD content rivals that of packaged media, although I'm sure it would not hold up to a side-by-side test.
    Their user interface is flawless. This system is so easy to use, I can put the remote in just about anyone's hand and they won't have a single question about what to do next. As advertised, their content begins playing immediately. Even for HD content, all that is needed is a 4 Mbps connection to be able to watch HD content instantly. If you'd like to give your ISP a test drive and see if you'd be able to watch instantly, VUDU has a speed test that will rate your connection throughput.

    The other thing VUDU does very well is discovery. Their interface allows for you to navigate through and dig deeper into movies from lists of actors and directors associated with each movie, as well as "Similar Movies" by genre. VUDU almost makes it too easy to find something to watch or add to your Wish List.

    Where to improve: Honestly, the only area where they could stand to improve is price. They charge about the same as Xbox Live Marketplace for HD content, and are providing 1080p instead of 720p, but Apple is now only charging $4.99 for HD rentals. Granted, Apple's service is only 720p, but I don't know that anyone would find that the 1080p content is worth the 20% premium. Your call.

    Overall Grade: A (see detail below)

    Comparison Tables

    Grades
    In the table below, I've graded each service on the following criteria:
    • Usability: How intuitive is the user interface, how easy is it to purchase movies and how quickly can you start watching
    • Audio/Video: General audio/video quality
    • Selection: Available titles, HD support, rent vs. buy
    • Cost: How do the rental/purchase costs compare with traditional rentals and purchases, or with similar providers
    Service .........Usability Audio/Video Selection Cost Overall
    Amazon Unbox B.......... D............. C........... A..... C
    Apple TV....... A-......... B............. B........... B...... B+
    Dish.............. B.......... C............. F........... F...... D
    Microsoft Xbox B.......... B............. C........... C...... B-
    VUDU............ A.......... A............. A........... A-..... A

    Overview Comparison:
    Service......... PC / STB...... Resolution(s) Selection(2)................................... Cost

    Amazon Unbox PC or STB(1) 480p........... 6,000 movies, 1000 TV series............ Rent: $0.99 - $3.99 Buy: $9.99 - $14.99
    Apple TV....... STB ........... 480p, 720p .. ~700 movies (200 HD), ~200 TV series Rent: $2.99 - 4.99 Buy: $9.99 - $14.99
    Dish.............. STB............ 480p .......... 300 movies, no HD content................ Rent: $2.99 - $4.99
    Microsoft Xbox STB............ 480p, 720p.. 300 movies (~150 HD), 300 TV series... Rent: $3 - $6
    VUDU............ STB............ 480p, 1080p. 6,000 movies (100+ HD), ~50 TV series Rent: $0.99 - $5.99 Buy: $4.99 - $24.99

    1 - Amazon Unbox is available through TiVo Series 2 or 3 set-top boxes
    2 - Selection is approximate and rounded

    Conclusion

    In just over a year, we've seen a tremendous amount of online video flood the marketplace with varying degrees of quality and pricing, but we have yet to see one that has the ultimate combination of content choice, quality (high definition) video, usability and reasonable price. I think these services certainly could replace the current DVD library in many homes today, but with respect to high definition DVD, it's not there yet. Depending on how quickly these services can expand their HD offerings, it could be a viable replacement at some point later this year or early next year. Even if you are not interested in giving up your physical media collection, any of these services provide convenient ways to rent movies.
    Last edited by MaxH; 04-21-2008, 10:27 AM. Reason: Edited down at the copyright holder's request

    #2
    Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

    To be fair you list 6000 movies on VUDU. I don't know what the actual number is but that includes all the individual TV shows. I know Xbox live has over 1000 individual TV epsiodes. I didn't count them all but it was easily well over 1000. While the movie numbers are in the 100's.

    So if the TV shows are listed with the movies numbers on VUDU it should also be listed that way with Xbox Live.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

      Originally posted by aaronwt View Post
      To be fair you list 6000 movies on VUDU. I don't know what the actual number is but that includes all the individual TV shows. I know Xbox live has over 1000 individual TV epsiodes. I didn't count them all but it was easily well over 1000. While the movie numbers are in the 100's.

      So if the TV shows are listed with the movies numbers on VUDU it should also be listed that way with Xbox Live.
      All numbers listed are direct from the HDTV Magazine article linked at the top of the thread. Not about being fair, just quoting accurately.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

        Originally posted by Nded View Post
        All numbers listed are direct from the HDTV Magazine article linked at the top of the thread. Not about being fair, just quoting accurately.
        Finally found my reading glasses to read the whole thing.

        Although the evaluation is a very subjective one, I didn't find anything that I would totally disagree with from my personal universe of experience.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

          Originally posted by aaronwt View Post
          To be fair you list 6000 movies on VUDU. I don't know what the actual number is but that includes all the individual TV shows. I know Xbox live has over 1000 individual TV epsiodes. I didn't count them all but it was easily well over 1000. While the movie numbers are in the 100's.

          So if the TV shows are listed with the movies numbers on VUDU it should also be listed that way with Xbox Live.
          And that is why they are listed the way they are. That is how the numbers were presented for each service. Short of counting them manually, there was no way to get an apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison. I didn't figure it mattered a whole lot anyway because the article was more focused on the movie content than it was on TV content.

          Thanks,

          - Shane Sturgeon

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

            Originally posted by mssturgeon View Post
            And that is why they are listed the way they are. That is how the numbers were presented for each service. Short of counting them manually, there was no way to get an apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison. I didn't figure it mattered a whole lot anyway because the article was more focused on the movie content than it was on TV content.

            Thanks,

            - Shane Sturgeon
            Hi Shane,

            Is this the famous Alsea Fishermen, or do I have the wrong person??

            Best Regards

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

              Originally posted by mssturgeon View Post
              And that is why they are listed the way they are. That is how the numbers were presented for each service. Short of counting them manually, there was no way to get an apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison. I didn't figure it mattered a whole lot anyway because the article was more focused on the movie content than it was on TV content.

              Thanks,

              - Shane Sturgeon
              In case you guys/gals didn't notice, Shane is the author of the article I quoted in the OP. Let's help him feel welcome here.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

                Originally posted by HeadHodge View Post
                Hi Shane,

                Is this the famous Alsea Fishermen, or do I have the wrong person??

                Best Regards

                Perhaps you mean my partner in crime, Dale Cripps. He is from Alsea.

                Cheers,

                - Shane

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Vudu found to be best by HDTV Magazine

                  This was a very nice article. I keep up with this stuff but I totally forgot about SyncTV. It looks pretty interesting.

                  Comment

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