Home Theater Review

 

VUDU

Vudu-Logo.gifVUDU is an online video store, owned by Walmart, through which you can rent and purchase film and television content. The content can be streamed via a high-speed network connection to a variety of networkable devices, including computers, HDTVs, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, streaming media players, and portable devices like smartphones and tablets.

VUDU is a pay-per-use service, meaning that you pay a one-time fee for each movie or TV show that you rent/purchase. This is different from subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus that require a monthly fee to watch an unlimited amount of content. VUDU rentals are streamed to compatible devices and can't be downloaded to your computer or portable device. VUDU purchases are stored in a digital locker to be streamed, and you also have the option to download a copy to your computer or mobile device for viewing through the VUDU To Go application when no Internet connection is available. Pay-per-use services like VUDU and iTunes generally receive titles on the same day they arrive on DVD, while subscription services often have to wait a much longer time to receive big-ticket home-video releases.

VUDU titles are usually available at three quality levels: SD (480p), HD (720p), and HDX (1080p). You need a high-speed Internet connection to use the VUDU service; the company recommends a speed of at least 1 Mbps for SD, 2.23 Mbps for HD, and 4.5 Mbps for HDX. In terms of audio, VUDU titles can be offered in PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, or Dolby Digital Plus (which supports up to 7.1 channels of higher-quality but still compressed audio).

New releases generally cost between $3.99 and $5.99 to rent (depending on the video quality level), between $14.99 and $19.99 to purchase. Sometimes a title will be available for purchase before it is available for rent. Rentals stay in your queue for 30 days; once you begin playback, you have 24 hours to watch the content before it disappears from your queue. Purchased content resides in a digital locker or, as mentioned above, can be download to your computer to be viewed through VUDU To Go.

VUDU is also compatible with the Disc to Digital service that allows you to get digital copies of DVDs and Blu-ray discs that you already own, to be stored in the UltraViolet digital locker system and accessed through VUDU and other UltraViolet-supported services. The cost is $2 to get an SD version of a DVD or an HD version of a Blu-ray; for $5, you can get an HD version of a DVD. You can take discs to your local Walmart to get them authorized; or, as of January 2013, you can authorize them yourself using the VUDU To Go application on your computer.

Some A/V products that feature the VUDU video-on-demand service also include a service called VUDU Apps, which gives you access to other Web-based applications like Facebook, Pandora, Flickr, Picasa, and a number of entertainment/news "channels."

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