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Vudu Offers 5,000 On-Demand Movies Right to Your TV



There's no doubt the eventually DVDs, high-def or otherwise, are on the way out. Like CDs, which are losing ground to music downloaded over the Internet, DVDs will eventually lose ground to movies downloaded and/or streamed over the Internet and (or from your local cable provider) and watched on your TV.

Numerous companies have been jumping on the download bandwagon, from pay-per-view services like Movielink, all-you-can-eat subscription services like Vongo, for-rent streamed offerings like Netflix Instant Watching, and purchase-only stores like iTunes and Amazon Unbox.

The latest company to jump into the movie download pool is Vudu, which in September will launch a set-top box capable of downloading and instantly playing any of 5,000 movies its catalog. Movies will cost around $3-$4 to rent for a 30-day period (or 24 hours once you press 'play'). Titles can also be purchased, but exact prices have not been determined. There's no subscription fee, but you do have to shell out for the box, which is expected to cost less than $500.

What makes Vudu different from the other movie download services out there? For one thing, the way it handles. We got a hands-on test drive with the Vudu service and box and were impressed with the speed and fluidity of the Vudu interface: The minimalist remote has only a half-dozen buttons and a scroll wheel that let us fly around the onscreen menu and stop on a dime when we found movies we liked. In addition, users can filter the kinds of movies they want to browse through by choosing multiple genres, ratings, actors, and the like (so, for example, instead of having to only see 'Action' movies, users can choose to see a list of 'Action,' 'Comedy,' and 'Classics' rated PG-13 and below).

The box is a sleek and flat affair that looks like a slightly larger (and black) Mac Mini or Apple TV. It has a full set of connections, including HDMI for upscaling standard-resolution movies up to HD-quality 1080p resolution (and, by the end of this year, for HD movies). Some movies will have Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks.

We've tried out a lot of the movie-download services, and we're fans of most of them, despite their slow download times and sometimes mediocre picture quality, but we were impressed with the Tivo-like ease of use and smooth operation of the Vudu player and service.

Who is this service for? Well, download and media nerds like us, for one, but also for the soccer Mom who doesn't want to schlep to the store at the last minute. And what about those of us who are sitting on a pile of the same Netflix rentals for six months, a year, or so? Might be easier to just rent what you want, when you want it.

We're looking forward to getting some more hands-on time with Vudu when it comes out in September.

How about you? Would you rather get a box with the ability to download 5,000 movies or just go to your local video store?

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Tags: Downloading, HD, Movies On-Demand, MoviesOn-demand, Vudu

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