|Founder(s)||Tony Miranz and Alain Rossmann|
|Headquarters||Sunnyvale, California, USA|
|Area served||USA, Mexico|
|Key people||Prasanna Ganesan (CTO)|
|Services||Video content delivery|
|Parent||Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.|
VUDU, Inc. is a content delivery and media technology company responsible for Vudu-branded interactive media services and devices. Vudu distributes full-length movies over the Internet to television in the United States of America. It does this with a content delivery network that uses a hybrid peer-to-peer TV technology. Vudu is sometimes stylized as VUDU and was acquired by Walmart in March 2010.
Vudu began by only making its own set-top boxes (the Vudu Box and the Vudu XL), but Vudu now primarily markets its software as a Smart TV / Connected TV platform and VoD (Video on Demand) distribution service to third-party consumer electronics devices. Vudu is also available within PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iPad, Roku devices (such as Roku 2/LT/HD/XD/XS, and the Roku 3) and select Android Tablets. As of December 2011, the Vudu app within the downloadable version of the Boxee media player is no longer supported, due to DRM and certification requirements.
Vudu requires a home broadband Internet connection to deliver movies. Users are given the option of watching a selected movie now or watching it later. The first couple of seconds of every movie within the catalog are loaded onto the Vudu Box's hard drive, ensuring instant playback when the user chooses to watch a given film. The remainder of the movie is delivered to the box via an exclusive peer-to-peer network. This process begins instantaneously while the user views the loaded portion of the movie, allowing for seamless viewing. The movie then finishes downloading to the box’s hard drive. Users are able to set the amount of bandwidth the box uses, with settings at 1 Mbit/s (Delayed movies), 2 Mbit/s (Instant standard-definition movies), and 4 Mbit/s (Instant high-definition movies).
Movies are encoded in MPEG-4 video and Dolby Digital Plus audio. Vudu offers movies in three formats: instant standard-definition, instant high-definition, and HDX. Standard-definition movies are up-scaled to higher 1080i/p resolution and high-definition movies can be output at 1080p24. The box is capable of outputting movies in 1080p/24, 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i video resolutions. Audio is sourced in Dolby Digital Plus and output in Dolby Digital 5.1, with the option of stereo output. Audio is limited to stereo playback on HTPC/PC/Mac platforms. Users are able to adjust video to display in stretched, boxed, or zoomed format as well as adjusting overscan settings depending on their television format.
As of May 2009[update], there were over 15,000 total titles in the Vudu catalog, including both movies and television shows. Titles range from major motion pictures, independent films, documentaries, children’s programming, anime, musicals, recorded musical performances, cartoons and television series. Over 1,900 of these titles are available in high-definition, the largest for any service of its kind. Vudu has established content licensing contracts with all major movie studios as well as over 50 smaller and independent studios. Movies are available to rent in standard-definition, high-definition, and HDX format. A rented title can be stored on the Vudu Box for 30 days before being watched. Once a user begins watching a rented title they have 24 hours to finish. After this 24-hour period, rentals can be extended for a discounted price. The majority of movies and television shows are available for purchase in standard-definition format only. This policy is consistent with studio standards and other digital retailers concerning digital purchases. Movies from FirstLook Studios, Kino, and Magnolia Pictures are available to purchase in high-definition format. On 25 February 2010, to comply with the policies of its parent corporation, Vudu discontinued operating the AVN After Dark channel which provided users with adult movies.
Vudu is capable of downloading and playing movies in HDX format, a format created by Vudu which encodes titles in 1080p HD at 24 frames-per-second. This technology is similar to a movie on a Blu-ray Disc. However, Blu-ray Discs will have better video and audio quality because of their higher bitrates. Vudu utilizes the H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10) encoding process along with proprietary encoding techniques dubbed TruFilm. TruFilm is composed of four main technologies designed to maximize the H.264 encoding standard:
Vudu Internet applications have been developed using Vudu's rich Internet application platform that allow users access to online content. Via the Vudu Box, users can access and watch videos, view photos on Flickr and Picasa, and play casual games. Vudu Internet applications also contain access to on-demand television shows, some of which are available in HD. In May 2009, Vudu partnered with Brightcove to bring ad-supported content to the Vudu Box. The first application available from the partnership is the ability to watch Sony music videos through the MyPlay service.
Vudu allows users to explore the catalog in a multitude of ways. Users are able to search by movie title or actor or director name. Users can also browse through genres and add filters to the results to narrow down their results. Users are able to select a genre or multiple genres together, and add a filter such as critic's rating, release date, and whether the movie is available for rent or to purchase. The Vudu system also links the directors and casts of movies together, similar to IMDb, allowing a user to see all of an actor or director's movies available on Vudu.
Vudu was founded by Tony Miranz and Alain Rossmann (the creator of WAP). The Vudu Box had been secretly in development since 2004, but on 29 April 2007, The New York Times revealed that Vudu had signed deals with many movie studios and independent distributors to deliver access to nearly 5,000 films.
On 24 February 2009, Vudu became the first on-demand service to offer high-definition movies for download to own. Prior to Vudu allowing users to purchase high-definition movies, studios only allowed their films to be purchased in standard-definition format. LG was the first to integrate Vudu into its HDTVs, with access beginning in August 2009 though the TV's NetCast application.
On 8 January 2010 (the second day of Consumer Electronics Show 2010), Vudu announced it was no longer shipping its set top boxes and would provide its service to select HDTVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Magnavox, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba, and Vizio. The company also announced its Vudu Apps platform for delivering internet services including embedding Wikipedia links in its movie descriptions
The Vudu Box was capable of connecting to standard-definition (SD), enhanced-definition, and high-definition (HD) televisions. The box connected to a television by HDMI, component, S-Video, or composite video cables. An HDMI cable and a composite video and analog stereo cable were included; any other connections must be provided by the user. Audio was provided through HDMI, digital coax, digital optical ports, or stereo analog. The box connected to the Internet through an Ethernet port with the provided Ethernet cable. Wireless was not supported directly from the player but Vudu offered an optional wireless kit for purchase using 802.11g and 128-bit WEP security encryption.
The Vudu Box was separate from both a computer and cable/satellite television system. A user must only provide a broadband Internet connection to use the service. Users do not pay a monthly subscription fee; instead they add a selected amount to an online account which is depleted depending on how many movies the user rents or purchases. Users can purchase and rent movies via the set-top box or through the company's website.
Movies were stored on the box's hard drive. The Vudu Box was capable of storing about 50 purchased films in standard-definition format. There was no limit for film rentals. Vudu also allowed for the remote "archiving" of purchased movies.
Vudu made an XL version of the Vudu Box. The XL featured one terabyte of storage, which can store approximately 500 standard-definition movies. The XL features technology typically used for home automation and is designed for use in home theater systems.
The Vudu remote control features five buttons and is designed to fit in the palm of either hand. Users browse through the menus using a scroll wheel which doubles as a button for making selections. The scroll-wheel is also used to move through movies similar to fast-forward and rewind. The remote also provides a play/pause button, a back button, a more button, and a Vudu button which takes users to the main Vudu screen. The provided Vudu remote uses radio frequency, allowing the user to control the Vudu Box without having to point the remote directly at the box. Using off the shelf external Infrared dongles a Vudu Box can be integrated into a universal IR remote.
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