As you can see from the pics below, I’ve gotten the Vudu review unit unpacked and hooked up. The out-of-box-experience (OOBE) is decent and the Vudu build quality looks and feels very nice.
The movie selection is quite large, though they don’t offer enough current blockbusters. Not to mention… Like other services, some films are available as rentals, some as purchases, some as both. We can’t pin this one on Vudu – blame the studios.
I’ve already developed a love-hate relationship with the remote control. It’s unique shape is quite comfortable and the scroll wheel makes quick work of navigating lists. However, the remote utilizes RF. I can live without adding Vudu as a Harmony activity, but I would have appreciated IR for TV volume buttons.
The interface is fairly simple and mostly logical. However, the remote’s scroll wheel makes navigation much more efficient than finding movies on the Xbox 360 and (recently departed) Moviebeam. Interacting with Vudu is also very responsive – partially due to that scroll wheel and, generally speaking, most modern STBs seem quick compared to TiVo’s UI. Given the large catalog of movies, I appreciate the Wish List bookmarking feature.
We’ve watched three movies (Memento, Reno 911: Miami, Simpson’s) on the 30″ bedroom HDTV. Playback of the SD flicks was instantaneous – in addition to the P2P functionality Vudu touts, I suspect some initial film content is pre-loaded to assist with that quick start. Video quality looked good, on par with Xbox SD movies – meaning: better looking than Amazon Unbox on TiVo.
So, is the Vudu worth $400 plus per movie rental or purchase fees? As solid as it seems, given the market I’m still not convinced a single-function box will succeed at $400. For comparison, an Xbox 360 with movie downloads (including HD) or a PS3 with integrated Blu-ray playback also come in at $400. Not to mention many folks get their VOD fix via cheap-to-free cable or satellite boxes. For a period of time, Vudu was selling the box to technology evangelists for $99. At $99, I have no problems recommending Vudu. For someone who always wants a large selection of movies on hand and is willing to pay, I’d even endorse the Vudu at $200-$250 – once more flicks are offered in offered in HD and with 5.1 audio. However, as an Xbox 360, TiVo, and HD DVD player owner I wouldn’t pay more than $100-$150 for a device like this.
I’ll continue to explore the Vudu, get it hooked up to the larger living room plasma, take video of the interface, etc… So, stay tuned.
Click the thumbnails for a larger view:
Disclosure: I’m not participating in the Vudu Evangelist program. This unit is a loaner from Vudu’s PR agency.