Vudu – digitally download movies

There’s a new product called Vudu hitting the market soon. It’s a $400 box that has 5000 ‘movie stubs’ pre-loaded onto it. You hook it to the net (a wired connection is suggested) and, pick your movie and either rent ($2-$4) or buy ($15-20) it. The ‘stub’ will start playing immediately with the rest of the movie downloading in the background, hopefully faster than you’re watching. If you choose the rental option you have 24 hours to watch your film after you’ve paid.

The movies aren’t high def, but the unit is supposed to upscale if you have an HDTV. It is capable of high def movies but they’re still negotiating the rights and expect to ‘turn on’ this feature in the near future. However, the unit has a puny 250 gig hard drive. How many high def movies are going to fit on that? There’s a USB port that’ll eventually let you add an external drive, but that’s going to add to the cost of ownership.

You need a cable modem or better to use it. DSL isn’t fast enough, they say. And remember, they suggest a wired connection, so get ready to run ethernet to the living room…

NY Times article with all the details

The rig uses peer-to-peer with other Vudu users. NY Times seems to consider this to be a “cool feature” but to me it’s a drawback. I don’t need my ISP barking at me because I’m uploading huge files to random strangers. And I know when I use bittorrent (at least) it sucks down every byte of bandwidth. Heaven forbid the (internet) phone should ring because I can’t use Vonage and do a P2P bittorrent transfer at the same time.

NY Times seems really bullish on this product. Me, I’m not seeing it. $400 to pay full price for movies that I could play on any of my existing DVD players? Granted you don’t have to go to the store…but that’s not enough of a boon to offset the drawbacks, at least to me.

How about for you?