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VUDU intros 1080p movies, $200 credit

updated 09:30 am EDT, Thu October 2, 2008

VUDU 1080p and HDX

VUDU upped its stakes in the online movie rental arena today by confirming a rumor and introducing some of the first 1080p online movie rentals. Labeled as HDX, the format is roughly twice as sharp as the 720p offered for most VUDU and Apple TV movies but attempts to avoid some of the compression artifacts that often crop up in attempting to shrink HD video to download-friendly sizes. A new algorithm known as TruFilm focuses the available bandwidth on rendering complex portions of the scene while reducing the data for simpler areas, producing what the company believes is a small video file without introducing visible color or resolution drops.

These movies will also keep full-quality 5.1-channel surround sound where available, VUDU adds.

HDX launches first with 65 movies that showcase the extra resolution of the new files, including The Chronicles of Riddick and Speed Racer. The company plans to keep 720p-level video for quicker downloads and will charge its existing rates of $4 and $6 per movie depending on their age. New movies added to the company's catalog will receive HDX as a matter of course and will be supplemented by back catalog upgrades over time.

In addition to its visual upgrade, the company also hopes to spur its business by applying a $200 movie credit to every new $300 VUDU Box purchased before the end of the year. Customers have to use all the credit before 2009 but effectively receive dozens of free rentals and TV shows before the end of the year.

VUDU to date has been one of the most recognized competitors in the media hub industry but has also had to struggle against either less expensive or all-in-one devices, including the lower-capacity but $80 less expensive Apple TV as well as standard-definition Netflix integration with devices from LG and Roku. Microsoft and Sony have also recently upgraded or planned to upgrade their video services with an upcoming Xbox 360 Netflix feature as well as Sony's already-running PS3 video store.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999

    +1

    interesting

    It looks like it will take several hours to download the 1080p HD movies before you can watch:
    http://www.vudu.com/product_hdx.html
    I couldn't find any info on their site on what the average size of these 1080p files is, so I don't know if relatively heavy users are at risk of running afoul of Comcast's 250GB/mo bandwidth limit. I wouldn't be surprised to see Comcast throttle the h*** out of these downloads if they become popular, as this is in direct competition with their on-demand TV service.

    I'm thinking the killer app for this Vudu service is renting HD p***...

  1. VUDUPatrick

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2008

    +3

    Reply from VUDU

    You'll be able to watch approximately 100 instant HD or 40 HDX titles per month without running afoul of the cap. Of course, if you want to check your email, you may need to lower than number by a couple.

    And, for the record, there are a number of adult tiles in HD on our AVN channel, which can be activated in the "Manage Box" tab of my.vudu.com

    Patrick
    Sr Product Manager, VUDU

  1. csimon2

    Junior Member

    Joined: Aug 2000

    +1

    "new algorithm"

    Not to reign in on the parade too much here, because having access to 1080p downloads is awesome, but the statement "A new algorithm known as TruFilm focuses the available bandwidth on rendering complex portions of the scene while reducing the data for simpler areas" is not an entirely new concept. This technique has been in use by the better H.264 encoders for a while now, which begs the question: Is "TruFilm" really a new format, or is it just marketing speak for VUDU instead of having to say that the new encodes are using better and more efficient encoding and decoding practices? If so, that's still great, but I would like to know.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999

    +1

    Maths...

    So, at 40 movies per 250GB, the average size of 1080p movies is around 6.25GB, which is significantly more compact than a BluRay-quality 1080p movie. We're a lot closer to the size of a high quality 720p h.264-compressed video. This makes me wonder what the visual difference would be between a 720p h.264 and a 1080p HDX format, or to put it another way, I wonder if the trade-off between having extra resolution at the expense of smooth motion, compression artifacts and pixelation is an advantage over a lower resolution with smooth motion and consistent visual quality, as there definitely has to be a downside to this high degree of compression. In the end, is the viewer going to prefer watching a 720p h.264-compressed video over a 1080p HDX-compressed one, especially when they're typically watching a

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999

    +2

    cut off

    ...watching a less than 50" LCD TV from ten feet away? I would actually hazard a guess that the 720p high bitrate video is going to look better, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

  1. darkrail

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2006

    +2

    HD p***?

    "And, for the record, there are a number of adult tiles in HD on our AVN channel"

    Did he just say this thing is an HD p*** Machine?

    Can someone please tell me the quality of this p*** so I can know how fast I need to go shopping? Cinemax soft-p*** won't do it for me; I've been way spoiled by the internet.

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