Vudu: Part 1

In the ongoing revolution from analog to digital, what has stood out to me as interesting is how people hang on to having the physical media. For instance, the need to have a physical DVD to play a movie. And with the current battle between HD DVD and Blue Ray, it emphasizes this by being a 'physical' media issue vs. a digital content issue. Which physical player that handles which physical disk to you prefer? Why the confusion?

I for one think that the HD DVD vs. Blue Ray battle is pointless. Who needs a physical disk and player. Why not have it all in bits and bytes on a hard drive or streamed to your TV? Bit-torrent has proven that having movies this way is a viable option and I believe is the future of media consumption. Especially with high-speed internet becoming main stream (my parents now have it) & large hard drives being so inexpensive.

Currently I am a Netflix member. I love Netflix. I typically get my new DVD 3 days after mailing in the watched DVD. But what to do during that wait time? Or if all of a sudden I want to watch movie 'c', and only have movie 'a' and 'b' received from Netflix? I want to watch whatever movie at anytime I want. I do not want to check On Demand on my Directv, as the movies play only at certain times on certain days. I want ala-carte any movie at any time. I have a TIVO with Amazon Unbox, but it is slow to download and start. Perhaps your cable or satellite provider provides this to you, but not to me. Maybe some day. In fact, I am willing to bet I will some day. But until then....

Enter Vudu. For disclosure purposes, I applied and was selected to get the Vudu at a special price in order to evaluate the product. As far as I know, they may accept anyone that meets minimum criteria. From what I understand, Vudu keeps the first 10 minutes or so of every movie on it's hard drive, and when selected to rent or purchase a movie, it starts to download the rest from the internet. Thus, you can start viewing the movie immediately. If this is how it works or not, I will cover later in the review.

Now that I have received the Vudu, I need to set it up. The Vudu came with the Vudu box, remote and basic cables. It did not come with HDMI or Component cables, both of which the Vudu can use. I will be connecting this to my 42" HTDV in the living room via HDMI to DVI and Digital optical audio. For the internet connection, my first try was to my MacMini running 10.5 Leopard that is connected to the same TV. I tried sharing the Airport connection with the ethernet port and turned on Internet Sharing. I then connected the Vudu to the MacMini, but could not get the Vudu to recognize the local network, thus could not get to the internet. I tried all types of settings including turning off the firewall without any success.

So my second try was to use the Belkin Wireless G Gaming adapter. I saw on the Vudu sight that it was compatible with the Vudu. Be aware, you will need a Windows XP computer on the network to set the Belkin up. Once I set the adapter up on the network and connected the Vudu box to it, the Vudu found the network and set up everything to access the internet quickly and easily with little needs from me. Once it was connected, the system downloaded and installed an update that required the box to reboot twice. Once finished, it gave me a code to enter on the Vudu website and voila, I was going through the Vudu menu checking out what movies where available and previewed one of the Jason Bourne movies.

I also went into the settings section set up the audio settings to use 5.1 surround and to make sure the movies would be in 16:9 for my TV. So far, everything has been simple and easy and very intuitive. Now I am ready to browse, purchase and watch a movie. But that is part 2 of the review. See you soon.

Just FYI, this is my first post trying out ecto