Vudu - The Highest Quality Movie Streaming Available
Written: Oct 3, 2011
As I continue my endless pursuit to find the best online site for streaming movies, I have come across options both good and bad. One that I came across quite by accident was Vudu, which I had seen many times before, but had never registered for me until the logo started popping up for it on my Playstation 3. When it stated that it was giving $5.99 in free rental credit for signing up on the PS3, I decided to give it a shot.
What is Vudu?
Simply put, Vudu is an online service that provides the ability to stream movies and televisions shows directly to your computer monitor or television (through a variety of devices). This is becoming a growing trend it seems as of late, as more and more options are popping up to stream movies, whether it is through subscription like Netflix and Amazon Prime, or on a pay-per-view basis like most cable companies and iTunes provide. Vudu is a provider of the latter option.
Vudu provides three options for viewing movies: standard definition, high definition and HDX format. Simply put, high definition looks better than standard, and HDX looks even better than high definition. HDX is instantly streamed at 1080p, the same as Blu-Ray and the highest definition currently available. I watched Your Majesty in HDX using my free movie credit, and I was amazed at how good the movie looked. There is a substantial difference between the HDX version and the high definition provided here and by other sources such as Netflix. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well the stream went, as the film never buffered or had pixilation problems.
How can I use Vudu?
Vudu manufactured its own set top boxes until last year, when they discontinued that practice and started bundling their service in HDTVs and Blu-Ray playing machines, including the Playstation 3. This was shortly before Vudu was purchased by Walmart, giving it the opportunity to be marketed directly into machines that have the service built in. They recently made their service available on the iPad, and have announced it will be available on select other tablets as well in the near future.
While you do have the option of watching movies directing from an online viewer on your computer or on your tablet, you want to be aware that doing so will limit you to only being able to view your selection in standard definition. While this might seem obvious, the best feature about Vudu is how good the movies look when you watch them in their HDX format. Therefore, if your only way of watching the film is on your computer, that format isn’t available, and you’d probably be better off going to Redbox.
How do I use the website?
The Vudu.com website is pretty easy to use. At the top of the screen is a toolbar that gives you several selections, allowing you to choose from featured movies, recommended selections, browse and search options and more. Each selection opens a new subsection of choices, allowing you to further narrow down your viewing options. As your options become available, each movie or television show gives you a wealth of information about it before you purchase, such as critics reviews, cast info, as well as watchable trailers. There is actually an entire area of trailers for movies that are available to rent or purchase, as well as movies coming to theaters in the next year.
One of my favorite options on the Vudu site is the Collections section. Here, there are featured collections of movies or shows, broken down by specific categories or genres. Interested in seeing film noirs or Disney movies? You can click on the respective buttons and the featured options pop up. There are even Criterion films available for viewing (though the selection is much more limited than that of Hulu Plus).
So, is it worth it?
Overall, I think your mileage will vary with Vudu, but it is definitely one of the better movie viewing sites out there for those looking for recent films in high definition. If you are looking for brand new releases without the wait, Vudu doesn’t seem to share the 28 day wait that Netflix and Redbox has to. It provides better high definition options that anyone out there streaming, so unless you are renting a blu-ray, it is the top option picture wise. You will have to pay a higher price for the higher quality (HDX new releases are usually $5.99), but when you can see the newest Transformers or Bridesmaids without having to wait or drive to pick it up with a better picture than cable pay-per-view provides, it is a worthwhile service. I’d recommend it for film fans looking for the best picture available.