I've been seeing a lot of articles lately about Blu-ray's fuzzy future, how it's doomed, and how its success will be short-lived even if it does take off. Well, that may well end up being the case, but I gotta say, from where I'm sitting, there's a far greater probability that Blu-ray will do just fine--for a long time. And I'm not saying that because I'm a fanboy or a shill for Sony. I'm saying it because a lot of simple market factors point toward it doing just fine. Here are nine reasons why I'm right.
1. Digital downloads will not eliminate the need for discs anytime soon.
Let's address this first since this is the biggest factor that people cite when trumpeting Blu-ray's defeat. If you haven't noticed, here at CNET we spend a good amount of time covering new streaming video platforms and services and really enjoy testing these new products. Everything from Hulu to Netflix streaming video to Slingbox to Apple TV to Vudu all show promise. That said, all these products have some limiting factors, including lack of content selection, pricing hurdles, and most particularly, bandwidth issues, which affect video and audio quality. … Read more
Vudu is adding some free video content to its set-top box. Streaming video from providers such as YouTube, MSNBC, CNN, MTV, PBS, and National Geographic will be available, as will access to Flickr and Picasa photos and a handful of casual video games. The new content will be available via a free firmware update that's scheduled to hit all Vudu boxes over the next 24 hours.
The new services will be available as part of what Vudu is calling the Rich Internet Application platform, or RIA. (It'll be available on a tab called "Vudu Labs" on the set-top box's main home screen.) Vudu hasn't signed deals with any of the above-mentioned content providers; instead, the RIA is using freely available Web content and feeds. Vudu is planning to open up its RIA platform to third-party developers in the first half of 2009. The company is also noting that the platform is optimized for fairly low system requirements ("a 300 MHz embedded processor with 128MB of RAM"), suggesting that the Vudu Rich Internet Application platform could be ported to other set-tops as well.
Vudu gave CNET a sneak peek of the RIA features a few days early. We think it shows promise, but--as always--content is king, and there's not yet a wealth of must-see TV there.… Read more
When 2Wire introduced its MediaPoint set-top box just two weeks ago, we told you that "it'll be a matter of weeks--if not days--before you see a yet-to-be-named service provider offering its own version of the MediaPoint, possibly at a sub-$100 price point." The curtain has been pulled back, and that initial provider turns out to be Blockbuster Video. For a limited time, the once-dominant movie rental chain is offering its version of the MediaPoint box for just $99, which includes a credit for 25 movies--effectively making it free. … Read more
Vudu has launched a third version of its downloadable movie set-top box, but this one is strictly for the upscale home installer set. Unlike the squat Mac Mini-like dimensions of earlier Vudu products, the XL2 has the more standard (and rack-mountable) 17-inch width you'd see in a typical DVD player. Otherwise, it seems to offer nearly identical specs to Vudu's earlier high-end offering, the XL: 1TB of storage, IP and IR control options. The XL2 costs $1,300, and is available only through custom installers.
Thankfully, the standard Vudu BX100 remains available for just $300. Toss in a $… Read more
Vudu is now offering more than 1,100 movies in high-def, making it No. 1 in on-demand HD. The company says that it blew past the 1,000-title milestone by adding more than 150 HD flicks per week in October, and it's pledging to continue its HD focus in the weeks and months ahead. (The HD selections represent about 11 percent of Vudu's total library of on-demand movies.)
Last week, we told you about Vudu adding a new "HDX" video quality tier to its video-on-demand box. Unlike the 1080p HD downloads already available on the box, HDX 1080p significantly ramped up the bitrate, offering considerably better picture quality. We've had a chance to check out portions of three HDX movies--Lord of War, surfing documentary Step into Liquid, and The Chronicles of Riddick--and the result was extraordinary. Simply put, Vudu's HDX represents the best Internet-delivered video we've seen to date. … Read more
Vudu, Amazon's Video on Demand, and Netflix's instant-streaming service--what do they all have in common? They're Internet-based video-streaming services, and they also charge a fee. But, what if you already own an extensive DVD or Blu-ray collection and don't want to "rebuy" them, but want the benefits of streaming, i.e. accessibility, potentially better picture quality, and physical ownership of your movie collection? In this post we'll compare those pay services versus a do-it-yourself streaming media solution.… Read more
Vudu is adding high-bitrate 1080p downloads and a $200 credit for new customers to its Internet video-on-demand box.
Starting October 2, Vudu owners will be able to download a small but growing roster of movie rentals at high-bitrate 1080p resolution--dubbed "HDX" by the set-top maker. The initial 65 titles available include such movies as The Spiderwick Chronicles, Speed Racer, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Chinatown, Saturday Night Fever, In Bruges, The Chronicles of Riddick, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The 1080p HDX versions will co-exist with the "Instant HD" 1080p ones, and will be available for the same price ($4 to $6). Going forward, Vudu is planning to make any new movie available in Instant 1080p to also be available in 1080p HDX, and the company will backfill update older HD movies in its catalog to HDX as well.
The catch:… Read more
Only 16 months ago, Vudu, the maker of a movie-playing set-top box, was generating splashy headlines in publications like The New York Times.
Now the company, which bills itself as a video store in a box, is at the center of speculation about layoffs and executive upheaval.
Last week, CE Pro reported that the company had reduced staff by nearly 20 percent, or about 16 to 18 employees out of 100.
A Vudu representative confirmed via e-mail that the company had reduced staffing but declined to discuss figures. Vudu "had to restructure a bit from each department" the … Read more