Vudu offers new format to stream 1080p HD movies to its BX100 player

As I mentioned in my post yesterday about Netflix, one of the obstacles video-streaming services are going to have to overcome is the quality of the files they're sending to big HDTVs. Apple has recently introduced 720p HD files on iTunes to download to its Apple TV device, but lesser-known Vudu may have gone one better with its new high-def format for its own streaming devices.

Vudu BX100
As I mentioned in my post yesterday about Netflix, one of the obstacles video-streaming services are going to have to overcome is the quality of the files they're sending to big HDTVs. Apple has recently introduced 720p HD files on iTunes to download to its Apple TV device, but lesser-known Vudu may have gone one better with its new high-def format for its own streaming devices. The company has introduced the new HDX format, which manages to send 1080p HD content to its BX100 living-room box.

And apparently, this announcement deserves any hype it's receiving. Resident New York Times tech columnist David Pogue gushed over the video quality of the HDX format in a column yesterday, pointing out that the data rate of its video is somewhere between DVD and Blu-ray quality. Notably, the video is displayed in cinema's native 24 frames per second (fps) instead of 30fps of video, and the company also boasts that its audio output is superior to the surround sound of conventional DVDs. Pogue concludes that "The HDX versions of Vudu movies are insanely sharp; they make standard films look blurry and washed out by comparison."

Vudu's player works by storing the first 30 seconds of movies on its hard drive (250GB, or more than either of the two Apple TV configs), and then downloading the rest of a selected movie while it's playing. That's not the case, however, when it came to grabbing HDX movies, which could take up to a few hours to download. You rent a movie for 24 hours, which you can extend for an additional day for an extra $1. Standard-def titles (which the player upconverts) cost anywhere from 99 cents to $3.99 to rent, while HDX titles cost a couple bucks extra. Right now, 65 HDX titles are available, ranging from new releases like Speed Racer to older titles like The Jerk and The Breakfast Club.

One roadblock for Vudu is that you need to buy the player for a hefty $300 before you get the chance to pay extra to rent movies. The company is making that a little more palatable as it's partnered with Best Buy to offer you $200 worth of movies if you buy the BX100 at the electronics chain. Is that enough to entice you?

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