Chromecast-style HDMI streamer from Walmart may ship soon
Walmart is preparing to launch a streaming HDMI dongle, similar to the Google Chromecast, Amazon's Fire TV Stick, and the Roku Streaming Stick, according to an FCC filing. The Vudu Spark is similar in shape and size to its competition, connecting directly to the HDMI port on a television, though it is unclear if it will have the same level of utility as other devices.
Vudu adding support for Google Chromecast to mobile apps, website
Vudu has revealed it will be adding support for the Google Chromecast to the streaming service in the future. Both the mobile apps for iOS and Android will gain the extra ability, including offering remote control through the app itself, with casting through the Chrome browser for Mac and PC also touted as part of the release. Though Vudu has yet to reveal a date, it is accepting registrations for beta testing.
Vudu video conversion exists beta, launches on OS X
Vudu's previously PC-only movie conversion program has exited closed beta, and is now available on OS X. The conversion of a first disc, either Blu-Ray or standard DVD is free, with a $2 per title fee assessed on future disks. SD DVDs may be "upgraded" to HDX for a one-time fee of $5. Users who convert more than 10 movies receive a 50 percent discount through August 31. Titles "converted" are available on the UltraViolet streaming service on various set top boxes, smart TVs, and mobile devices.
All passwords reset, company offering a year of identity protection
According to Vudu, unknown perpetrators broke into the video streamer's office on March 24 and stole a number of items, including hard drives that contained customer information with names, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, account activity, dates of birth, and the last four digits of some credit card numbers. The company has since reset all passwords, and noted that the password database was encrypted.
Holiday promotion of Boxee TV promises 3-month cloud DVR trial
As expected, the Boxee TV is now available for purchase at Walmart. The big box store chain is the only retail location to purchase the device, with online purchasing at Boxee's site the other option. The $98 piece of hardware includes a digital antenna, and word is buyers will get a three-month trial period to the No Limits DVR service.
Boxee TV gets subscription-based No Limits DVR capability, $100 price tag
Boxee, which traditionally made products that focused on streaming multimedia content from local storage and the web, has now introduced the aptly named Boxee TV. It will let users watch live TV content from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and other channels in high definition. It also doubles as a DVR and bring Internet Apps to a connected HDTV.
Fox' Digital HD movies coming to iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Xbox Live, more
Google was one of many on Tuesday to reveal that it has signed a new deal with Twentieth Century Fox to bring over 600 titles to Google Play and YouTube. Dubbed Digital HD and available on the premium services, the shows and movies will be available to rent or buy, with many in high-definition. The campaign is highlighted by Fox's Prometheus, which can be purchased on Tuesday in HD for just under $15, a full three weeks before it comes out on Blu-ray, DVD, and video-on-demand services.
Buyers may have to wait until September 15th
New information on Walmart's iPhone 5 preorder plans has emerged, 9to5Mac reports. Leaked documents show that while the company originally advertised preorders starting at 8AM local time today, that timing has been pushed up until whenever each store gets the necessary reservation cards delivered. Each card costs $25, which counts toward the purchase price of an iPhone.
WD TV Live and TV Live Hub get new features and services across the world
WD on Tuesday has updated its TV Live and TV Live Hub media players with new, country-specific and worldwide services and features. Existing owners of either product will get access to the features thanks to a downloadable software update. The new services include Red Bull TV, ABC iview, Acetrax, Maxdome, the BILD TV-App, and the AOL On Network.
Apple marketshare drops to 32.3 percent
In 2011, Netflix surpassed Apple in terms of US online movie revenue, according to IHS. Netflix's share of the market jumped to 44 percent; by comparison, it had less than 1 percent in 2010. Apple controlled 60.8 percent of revenue in 2010, but even though its revenue has continued to grow, its marketshare has shrunk to just 32.3 percent.
Sony BDP-S790 due on May 6
Sony on Sunday said it was on the verge of shipping its most advanced Blu-ray player for the year, the BDP-S790. The networked movie hub is due to reach stores May 6. Pre-orders are starting now for the player, which costs $250.
Vudu could go international in 2012
Vudu's streaming movie and TV service could leave the US for the first time, according to apparent leaks emerging later on Thursday. The strategy passed on to Variety from unnamed sources would have Vudu available in Mexico by June, followed by sweeping coverage in South America. Asia and Europe would be part of the expansion further into 2012, although it's unknown if Canada would join in.
Xbox Live services to go free from April 19-23
In an attempt to get some more users hooked on its premium Xbox Live subscription service, Microsoft will offer it for free for five days, commencing on Thursday, April 19, and running until Monday, April 23. Partners like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and EPIX will also open their doors for free during the same time period. Depending on where users are, however, they will get various amounts of free app access during those five days.
D-Link adds MovieNite media hub
D-Link threw itself into low-cost media hubs Tuesday with the MovieNite. Borrowing from the design cues of the Apple TV and Roku 2, the device at $60 is one of the least expensive capable of 1080p video. Its primary sources are Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube for video as well as Pandora for streaming music and Picasa for photos.
Walmart kicks of UltraViolet service, now in beta
Walmart has officially announced its UltraViolet conversion service, letting users digitize their existing DVD and Blu-ray movies. Viewers will have the ability to bring a movie into one of the more than 3,500 participating stores in the US and have their movies added to a Vudu account, after which they can stream it at any time.
Vizio CinemaWide gets price at middle size
Vizio has quietly updated the product page for its flagship TV of the year, the CinemaWide, to give it a price. The middle tier 58-inch set should cost $3,499. Smaller 50- and high-end 71-inch sets are still coming, but didn't immediately get prices.
RCA soundbar to stream Netflix, Vudu, Pandora
At a pre-CES event, RCA showed off a new sound bar that connects to the web to let subscribers access their Netflix, Pandoara, Vudu and other services. The 37-inch RCA Wi-Fi Home Theater Sound Bar (model RTS739WS) is paired with two satellite speakers a subwoofer to deliver surround sound. There is an HDMI output and an optical audio input for adding audio from a TV or other source such as a set-top or receiver.
Hollywood may face cost of 3D, Internet in 2012
New estimates compiled by Hollywood.com point to the movie industry facing a rare decline. Assuming the last week of the year reflects trends, movie theaters will have made $10.1 billion in 2011, or 4.5 percent less than in 2010. AllThingsD didn't glean explanations from the research.
Boxee 1.5 marks shift from desktop to devices
Boxee marked a swansong for its desktop app with the launch of 1.5. The app has a newly refreshed interface with quicker access to the browser and the menu appearing as an overlay with quicker search. Movie and TV sections have been given their own updates, such as easier navigation by genres and sources, more details, and a better way to check for unwatched video episodes.
Channels added for international markets
Microsoft has announced that it has added eight new channels to the Xbox Live TV service in North America and several European countries. Notable additions include Walmart's VUDU streaming video service, along with Ultimate Fighting Championship content for users in the US and Canada.
Updates WD TV Remote App, adds VUDU, 5 others
Western Digital has updated its WD TV Remote app for WD TV Live and WD TV Live Hub users. The company will soon be adding Android support to the app as well as iOS devices (free, App Store). WD also announced it will be adding new streaming services for WD TV users, including VUDU and several sports networks.
We try Xbox 360 fall 2011 dashboard early
Microsoft is about to launch its Xbox 360 fall Dashboard update, and we've had the opportunity to use it early on our own system ahead of when it goes live December 6. The update is Microsoft's second major revamp in the Xbox 360's history and is geared around turning the Xbox 360 into a media hub. Read on for hands-on time and why it may be the definitive answer to the Apple TV.
Microsoft outlines launch plans for X360 live TV
In sync with the fall Xbox 360 Dashboard update, Microsoft has provided a listing of TV providers that will be ready to go this week. Along with existing access to ESPN, Hulu, and Netflix, the December 6 update will also bring EPIX authenticated video in the US, Lovefilm in the UK, MediaSet's Premium Play in Italy, Sky Go in Austria and Germany, Telefonica España's Movistar Imagenio, and MSNBC's Today in the US.
Xbox 360 gets definitive fall 2011 UI update time
Microsoft on Tuesday narrowed down a firm date for its fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard. The Windows Phone-derived revamp should go live on December 6, about three weeks after beta testing began. The update is expected to go live worldwide, although not every feature will follow suit due to the need for local deals.
Vudu-To-Go downlaods open to Macs and PCs
Vudu broke out of its streaming-first mode on Thursday with Vudu-To-Go. The service now lets those who have bought a movie or a TV show download it to a Mac or Windows PC to watch without needing an Internet connection. The videos run through an Adobe AIR app that keeps the videos protected.
Microsoft sends tile-based Xbox 360 UI
Microsoft on Thursday started giving beta users its promised fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard update. The upgrade introduces the tiled, Windows Phone 7-like interface we first saw at E3 and organizes sections that would normally need hierarchical sections into groups. The interface is more optimized for the Kinect and lets users search for content across the whole Xbox and Xbox Live using voice, although a gamepad fallback is available.
Windows Phone Xbox Companion app shows Vudu
Microsoft at the Nokia World 2011 show demonstrated its Xbox Companion remote app for Windows Phone 7. During the video demo, the screen of the handset showed off an orange tile with the Vudu Movies label. This functionality hasn't been detailed before, and Vudu is currently exclusive to Sony's PS3.
Sharp to ship 80-inch Smart TV in October
Sharp's has just revealed the 80-inch LC-80LE632U, which it claims is the largest LED-lit LCD TV commercially available. It sports a 1080p resolution and is labeled as a Smart TV with both Wi-Fi as well as access to apps such as Netflix, CinemaNow and Vudu. Sharp is quick to point out the TV has more than double the screen area of a 55-inch TV.
Walmart setting up to carry UltraViolet media
Walmart is in negotiations to carry the UltraViolet cloud-video platform, CNET learned from sources. UV is a number of standards and specifications that will allow movies and TV shows to play on many devices. Customers would purchase a UV movie, for example, and have access to it from servers and view them on multiple UV-licensed devices.
Netgear N900 router and NeoTV streamer arrive
Netgear made inroads to home networking Wednesday headlined by a self-proclaimed high-speed router. The N900, also known as the WNDR4500, is part of a still-rare group that can run Wi-Fi up to 450Mbps concurrently on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Wireless sharing is atypically faster as well: the USB controller is more powerful than on most rivals and estimated to be 30 percent faster for sharing an external hard drive or a printer.
Zune, PlayStation stores lose ground
iTunes movie sales have managed a turnaround in US marketshare, according to research firm IHS. During the first half of 2011, Apple's portion of electronic sellthrough and video-on-demand spending grew to 65.8 percent, versus 64.9 percent in the first half of 2010. In an equivalent gap between 2009 and 2010, Apple dropped by 11.9 percent. IHS remarks that Apple's last rise in share was during 2009.
Vudu goes web-based for iPad
Vudu on Wednesday began offering its streaming movie service on the iPad over the web. The strategy uses HTTP Live Streaming to push the movie while adapting the bitrate to match the connection. Video is limited to standard definition when seen on the iPad, but only due to "restrictions by content providers," Vudu said.
PS3 update turns on automatic cloud and expands 3D
Sony late Tuesday put out a new PS3 update catering to its online and 3D users. The 3.70 upgrade makes cloud saves automatic for those who have the PlayStation Plus accounts needed for the service. Gamers can flag individual games for automatic uploads and guarantee that certain games' saves are always available.
Boxee for iPad and Boxee Box firmware go live
Boxee swung out a pair of major additions to its mix, including its first real tablet app. Boxee for iPad (free, App Store) lets users stream video both from some content channels as well as from computers on the local network. The app isn't locked into supporting the iPad's native formats and transcodes video from the computer on the spot.
Sharp Elite TVs pack intelligent contrast, refresh
Sharp took advantage of its rights to Pioneer's Elite name by launching its own range of Elite TVs. Now using LCDs, the 60-inch Pro-60X5FD and 70-inch Pro-70X5FD both have a unique scanning backlight effect that goes beyond 240Hz; the company claims an equivalent to about 720Hz. Both have an Intelligent Variable Contrast system that purportedly goes beyond usual dynamic contrast to tune the brightness and the backlight for maximum effect.
Latest push for Walmart's digital distribution
Vudu has announced that it has established a presence on Walmart's website. The portal serves as a direct link to Vudu's range of on-demand rental content. The site includes featured categories, including top new releases, a $0.99 "movie of the day," $2 rentals that are good for two days, and lists of titles that will soon be available to rent.
Battle: Los Angeles first offering
Vudu has launched a new digital movie card service through its parent Walmart. Customers can purchase the card for a desired movie in-store, and then use the provided code at home to stream it and watch it on their computer or other Vudu-enabled electronic device, including an HDTV, Blu-ray player, or a PlayStation 3. The first movie to be offered is Sony's Battle: Los Angeles.
Vudu adds TV shows for first time
Vudu chose Tuesday to throw itself into more direct competition with iTunes and Netflix by carrying TV shows. The deal gives it access to shows from ABC, AMC, Fox, HDNet, Palm, Showtime, Sony, Starz, and The CW, such as Weeds and The Walking Dead. As a paid service, its episodes will show a day after the air date rather than weeks or months like on Netflix.
Spotify said to launch a premium movie service
Spotify, the web-based music service, is nearly ready to launch a movie-streaming service, according to TechCrunch. Deals have been negotiated with a number of major movie studios, said a source, with Universal likely among them. The best guess the source of this news has for a launch date for the service is this fall.
Sharp ships first of four 70-inch LCD HDTVs
Sharp this week has showed off the largest LCD HDTV on the market with the 70-inch LC-70LE732U. The company was quick to point out the set is 62 percent larger than 55-inch TVs, and it offers the company's signature Quattron four-color pixels with yellow to improve some scenes. It centers on a 120Hz, LED-backlit panel with a native 1080p output.
Vudu movies go to web
Vudu filled an important gap on Tuesday by starting up web-based browsing. Viewers can now either buy or rent a movie for viewing on the web in the same formats that previously needed Vudu-capable hardware. The support extends from standard definition up through to HDX-encoded 1080p, including with Dolby 5.1 surround if supported.
Vudu hopes for Apple device support in future
Vudu chief Ed Lichty in a talk on Friday expressed hope that his movie streaming service might come to Apple devices. As part of an anticipation to expand into "tablets and other new gizmos," according to Forbes, Lichty thought devices like the iPad and iPhone might follow suit. He didn't give an indication of how close these were or whether there would have to be any changes.
Sharp announces four new Aquos Quattron HDTVs
Sharp has added a new range to its Aquos Quattron HDTVs with the LE830. It includes 60-, 52-, 46- and 40-inch models, each with integrated Wi-Fi and access to CinemaNow, Netflix and Vudu services. All are also DLNA certified for streaming content from home networks.
Vudo comes to new conneted Sony Blu-ray players
HD movie streaming company Vudu on Tuesday said its service was going live for all of Sony's 2011 Blu-ray Disc players with an Internet connection. The Sony models with the functionality include the BDP-S280, BDP-S380, BDP-S480, BDP-S580, BDP-S780, BDV-E280, BDV-E580 and BDV-E780W, some of which were unveiled at this year's CES show. Vudu offers streaming at up to 1080p and with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound as well as 3D when supported.
Sharp readies three connected 3D Blu-ray players
Sharp this week announced the upcoming release of three new 3D Blu-ray players. They include the BD-HP75U, BD-HP35U and BD-HP25U, all of which can play back 1080p 3D content at 24FPS and support for Dolby True HD and DTS HD audio formats. More importantly, however, will be support for Netflix, Vudu, Pandora and YouTube streaming.
Boxee gets 16.5m from Softbank, more
Boxee's media ambitions got a significant help on Tuesday with a $16.5 million cash infusion from a round of partners that included Japanese carrier Softbank. The Boxee Box creator hoped both to improve the content and quality of the Boxee UI but also promised an ambitious hardware expansion. It planned more partners than just Iomega and ViewSonic and eventually hoped to be a complete TV replacement.
Boxee Netflix update delayed again
Boxee delayed its Netflix update for its hardware a second time today over technical issues. The streaming movie service was already running on the app and the Boxee Box but hadn't yet met Netflix's "security requirements" for copy protection, the company's Andrew Kippen said. He didn't have definitive scheduling for the launch other than "soon."
Vudu 2.0 reaches most devices
Vudu started the weekend by rolling out its 2.0 interface on most all devices. Following the PS3 and Boxee Box updates, Blu-ray players and Internet-linked TVs now get the same simplified interface and optimizations for HD and newer controllers when they appear. It now recommends movies based on the viewing history and theoretically gives faster access to movies.
Boxee pushes Vudu update
Slightly later than planned, Boxee on Wednesday rolled out Vudu access on the Boxee Box. The firmware upgrade gives the media hub its first access to top-tier, commercial movies in the US, with many purchases and rentals coming the same day as they do on DVD. The Boxee's Atom chip is fast enough to decode Vudu's signature HDX format at its full 1080p and 5.1-channel Dolby Digital Plus surround.
Vudu launches 3D content streaming for PS3 owners
Vudu has followed up on its announcement at CES on its blog on Monday that the promised 3D content streaming for PS3 owners is now live. Those with the Vudu app on their PS3s and the required 3D TV and glasses can stream 3D content from Vudu. The app will get continual updates over its lifespan.