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Vudu, Inc.
Type Private VC-backed startup[1]
Genre Net TV
Founded 2004
Founder(s) Tony Miranz and Alain Rossmann
Headquarters Santa Clara, California, USA
Industry P2P/TV
Products Vudu set-top box
Services Video Content Delivery
Employees 40
Website www.vudu.com

VUDU, Inc. is a media technology company responsible for the development of the VUDU Box and VUDU XL, interactive media devices used to distribute full-length movies to any television, using a hybrid peer-to-peer TV technology.

Contents

History

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 April 29, 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.[2] The VUDU product team is made up of veterans from TiVo, WebTV, Openwave, 2Wire, Slim Devices, OpenTV, and Danger, Inc. By April, 2007 VUDU had received $21 million in venture capital funding from Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital.[3] As of April, 2008 they have raised $40 million more.[4] The company is based out of Santa Clara, California.

In May 2008, VUDU began displaying and selling its set-top box in Best Buy stores. Before this time, the box was only available via online retailers.[5]

On February 24, 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.[6] LG was the first to integrate VUDU into their HDTVs, with access beginning in August of 2009 though the TV's NetCast application.[7]

On Jan. 8, 2010 (the second day of CES 2010), VUDU announced it would provide its service to select HDTVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Mitsubishi, Samsung, SANYO, Sharp, Toshiba and VIZIO. The company also announced its VUDU Apps platform for delivering internet services.[8]

Features

The VUDU Box is capable of connecting to standard-definition (SD), enhanced-definition, and high-definition (HD) televisions. The box connects to a television by HDMI, component, S-Video, or composite video cables. An HDMI cable and a composite video and analog stereo cable are included in the box; any other connections must be provided by the user. Audio is provided through HDMI, digital coax, digital optical ports, or stereo analog. The box connects to the internet through an Ethernet port with the provided Ethernet cable.[9] Wireless is not supported directly from the player but they do offer an optional wireless kit for purchase using 802.11g and 128-bit WEP security encryption.[10]

There are also 2 USB ports present on the VUDU Box. One can be used to power the wireless kit that the company sells but usage for the other is unknown.[11]

The VUDU Box is designed to exist separately from both a computer and cable/satellite television system. A user must only provide a broadband Internet connection to use the service.[12] 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.[13] Users can purchase and rent movies via the set-top box or through the company’s website.

Movie Delivery and Storage

P2PTV overlay network serving three video streams.

The VUDU Box connects to a user’s 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 is 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 with each VUDU Box serving movie content to other boxes within the network.[14] This process begins instantaneously while the user views the loaded portion of the movie, allowing for seamless viewing.[15] 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 stored on the box’s hard drive. The VUDU Box is capable of storing about 50 purchased films in standard-definition format. There is no limit for film rentals.[16] VUDU also allows for the “archiving” of purchased movies, allowing the user to purchase a movie and store it remotely ready to be re-downloaded and watched at any time without the need for extra storage space.

Movie Format

Movies are encoded in MPEG-4 video and Dolby Digital Plus audio.[17] 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.[18] 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.[9] 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.

Movie Selection

As of May 2009, there are over 15,000 total titles in the VUDU catalog, including both movies and television shows.[19] Titles range from major motion pictures, independent films, documentaries, children’s programming, anime, musicals, recorded musical performances, cartoons, television series, and adult movies. Over 1,900 of these titles are available in high-definition, the largest for any service of its kind.[19] VUDU has established content licensing contracts with all major movie studios as well as over 50 smaller and independent and/or pornographic studios.[20] 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.[21] Movies from FirstLook Studios, Kino, and Magnolia Pictures are available to purchase in high-definition format.[6]

HDX and TruFilm

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 the equivalent of a movie on a Blu-ray Disc, albeit provided through a broadband Internet connection.[22] VUDU utilizes the H.264 (MPEG4 p10) encoding process along with proprietary encoding techniques dubbed TruFilm.[23] TruFilm is composed of four main technologies designed to maximize the H.264 encoding standard:

  • Psychovisual Processing: Designed to dampen and eliminate artifacting and pixilation commonly seen in areas of dark sky and water in movies by utilizing a constant algorithmic and visual check, then flagging these sections to be re-encoded.[24]
  • Film Grain Preservation: A process which maintains the slight imperfections that the director of the movie decided to leave in the final film. VUDU makes multiple encoding passes over the original film, allowing the final encoded product to contain the original film grain.[24]
  • Statistical Variable Bitrate: Ensures optimal video quality throughout the film by allocating a higher encoding budget to high detail and high motion segments of the film, while conserving the budget during slower sequences. With peaks as high as 20Mbit/s and as low as 2 Mbit/s, this process allows for the highest possible video quality streaming over a broadband Internet connection.[24]
  • Color Gradient Processing: A unique technology used to tune the picture for optimal display on modern LCD and plasma televisions vs. an older CRT television.[24]

VUDU Internet Applications

Vudu Internet Applications have been developed using the VUDU Rich Internet Application platform that allow users access to online content. Via the VUDU Box users can access and watch videos on YouTube, view photos on Flickr and Picasa, and play casual games. Vudu Internet Applications also contains access to on-demand television shows, some of which are available in HD.[25] 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[26].

Remote Control

VUDU has also been noted for its award-winning streamlined remote control. The remote features five buttons and is designed to be ambidextrous and 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.[27] Using off the shelf external Infrared dongles a VUDU Box can be integrated into a universal IR remote.[28]

Search Functions

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.[29]

Specifications

  • TV Compatibility: High-definition, Enhanced-definition, Standard-definition[30]
  • Video Resolution: 1080p/24, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i[30]
  • Video Outputs: HDMI v1.1, Component, S-Video, Composite[30]
  • Audio Outputs: HDMI v1.1, Digital Optical, Digital Coax, RCA[30]
  • Dimensions: 2.4x8.9x7.3 in[30]
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs (7.5 lbs packaged)[30]
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, 2 USB ports[30]
  • Remote: RF (22 ft range)[30]

VUDU XL

VUDU also makes an XL version of the VUDU Box. The XL has a larger Hard Disc Drive featuring 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.[31]

See also

References

  1. ^ VUDU - Home
  2. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/business/yourmoney/29VUDU.html
  3. ^ http://hpinnovator.com/index.php?articleID=11435&sectionID=269
  4. ^ http://venturebeat.com/2008/04/08/rumor-has-VUDU-raised-more-than-40m/
  5. ^ http://www.videobusiness.com/article/CA6563617.html
  6. ^ a b http://www.vudu.com/press_release02.24.2009.html
  7. ^ http://www.hd-report.com/2009/07/29/lg-first-to-bring-hulu-to-hdtvs/
  8. ^ http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100108005913&newsLang=en
  9. ^ a b http://www.VUDU.com/product_VUDU.html
  10. ^ http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/news/2008/06/VUDU_has_gone_wireless.php
  11. ^ http://www.VUDU.com/product_wireless.html
  12. ^ http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/news/2008/06/VUDU_has_gone_wireless.php
  13. ^ http://supports.VUDU.com/questions/97/+How+does+billing+work%3F+
  14. ^ http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/blockbuster-buster%3F/VUDU-video-wonderbox-picture-walkthrough-and-review-just-short-of-wonderful-297309.php
  15. ^ http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/gizmodo-exclusive/exclusive-pics-of-the-VUDU-+-video-store-in-a-box-256044.php
  16. ^ http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/oct2007/tc2007104_097726.htm
  17. ^ http://www.dolby.com/dolbycast/transcripts/2008-ces-roundup.html
  18. ^ http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/gizmodo-exclusive/exclusive-pics-of-the-VUDU-+-video-store-in-a-box-256044.php
  19. ^ a b http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/VUDU-drops-its-price-to-100/
  20. ^ http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/08/13/VUDU-announces-0-99-extended-rentals-99-for-99-movie-channel/
  21. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2007Dec20/0,4675,TechTestVudu,00.html
  22. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/technology/personaltech/02pogue.htm
  23. ^ http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/columns/2008/02/showdown_apple_tv_vs_VUDU.php
  24. ^ a b c d http://www.crunchgear.com/2008/10/02/VUDU-officially-announces-full-hd-service-hdx/
  25. ^ http://gizmodo.com/5111309/VUDU-offering-120-channels-of-free-media-with-new-app-platform
  26. ^ http://sev.prnewswire.com/computer-electronics/20090512/SF1530412052009-1.html
  27. ^ http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/blockbuster-buster%3F/VUDU-video-wonderbox-picture-walkthrough-and-review-just-short-of-wonderful-297309.php
  28. ^ http://supports.VUDU.com/questions/159/Can+I+use+my+universal+remote+to+control+my+VUDU+box%3F
  29. ^ http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-media-receivers/VUDU-bx100/4505-6739_7-32589079.html
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h http://www.VUDU.com/product_specs.html
  31. ^ http://www.avguide.com/article/VUDU-introduces-xl2

External links

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