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Vudu Plans 1,000 HD Titles, Lifetime Content-Recovery

IP-based VOD developer to launch new features at CEDIA: More HD titles, lifetime warranty on content, and HD over component video.


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Soon: 1,000 HD titles

Vudu may be battling rumors of its demise, but the developer of IP-based video-on-demand products is rolling out "some really exciting things" at CEDIA Expo 2008, according to national dealer channel manager Mark Donnigan.

Most of the features will be available (at least initially) only on Vudu's high-end XL box, which is available through specialty A/V outlets, and not big-box retailers.

Prices for the new features have not been revealed.

CEDIANews.com has an exclusive look at the highlights:

More HD Titles


Vudu was quick to amass a large selection of downloadable movies and TV shows, but HD content has been relatively slow in coming.

"The biggest weak point is the lack of purchasable hi-def content," says one reseller who asked to remain anonymous. "If you sell a box that holds a lot of 1080p movies, people want to collect them. They don’t want to collect them in 480p."

Vudu is working furiously to build its HD library.

"In a very short time we'll have 1,000 HD titles," says Donnigan. "That's more than Blu-ray. We have some huge deals."

Donnigan declined to provide details about the deals. (We assume that not all of the additional HD content will come from Vudu's newest offering, the Adult Video Network.)

Component Video for HD


Currently, the studios prohibit component video connections from passing protected 1080p content (despite so many efforts from the CE community).

Apparently, however, they are going to make an exception for Vudu.

"We'll have [1080p] HD over component," says Donnigan. "This has been a much-requested feature. It's not even available on DVD players."

He adds that Vudu has to implement some software changes to enable the HD1080p-over-component solution, and of course the company has had to get permission from the studios.

Donnigan reiterates the novelty of this component capability: "No other DVD player can do it. It is not even an option with DVD players."

[update: Originally, it was not clear that Donnigan was referring specifically to 1080p; the story has been updated to reflect his true sentiments. Myapologies for the confusion. --jj]

Lifetime Content Warranty


How would you like it if you bought hundreds of high-def movies and TV shows over the years, and your hard drive crashed or burned or otherwise erased your content for good?

If you bought the goods from Vudu, you could recover it all. The company plans to sell a lifetime warranty on purchased content.

"We know exactly what was purchased and how much was spent," Donnigan says. "It is not a difficult thing to manage."

Donnigan notes that the Vudu plan trumps Apple's recently announced program to warranty iTunes downloads for one year.

Multiroom Vudu


Currently, Vudu content is locked into a single zone. Will we see multiroom capabilities soon? Vudu has no comment.

In the meantime, you can distribute and control Vudu content via the NetStreams DigiLinx, an IP-based video distribution system.




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Article Topics

CEDIA · Media Servers · Exclusive · Media Server · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

18 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  08/23  at  10:36 AM

I’m sorry Julie, but how could you include the “DVD players can’t do 1080p output” quote, without a mention that every single Blu-ray (and HD DVD) player supports HD output over component. This is in addition to the Apple TV, Xbox 360, and every single MSO STB made—all of which also have premium hollywood content.

In fact Vudu is the only other box, other than the defunct Moviebean, that doesn’t do HD over component.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/23  at  02:53 PM

Ben, thanks for chiming in.

I’m not a video expert, but I rely on a lot of them.  So far, my intel tells me that, while technically possible, component video cannot pass 1080p on protected content ... legally.

Many DVD players and settop boxes SAY 1080p, but in fact they are passing 1080i. (HD, yes, 1080p, no)

I hope others will post comments on the subject.

Posted by Chris Lanier  on  08/23  at  05:09 PM

AACS actually limits Component output to 1080i.  So while it is technically possible to do (despite no CEA “standard”), it can’t be legally done for AACS protected content.

If it isn’t AACS protected, or in Vudu’s case if their agreement with content owners doesn’t outlaw it, then outputting 1080p over Component is fine (assuming you have a display that accepts Component in 1080p).

Chris

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  08/24  at  09:42 AM

Julie,
I understand you aren’t a video expert, but you should at least understand that there are other HD resolutions other than 1080p, that Vudu could use to send HD over component, in fact on many HDTVs there is NO perceivable difference between 1080i and 1080p.

As for 1080p and component it is not in the specification, it is technically possible and most definitely legal. You might ask Bill Paul about it, as he seems to have a good understanding based on the article you linked to in this very post.

Chris,
Every single Blu-ray disc and HD DVD was AACS protected and every single ones of them will playback at HD resolutions over component.

That being said, there is a feature of AACS called the image constraint token (ICT) that would prevent 1080p output over component but even then, 540p is supported, which still looks much better than the 480p that Vudu requires you use via component.

Now on any other site, who cares, but with all the anti-HDMI posts I’ve read on CEpro because of the headaches it causes to installers, I’d expect to at least see it portrayed correctly here.

Posted by Chris Lanier  on  08/24  at  10:04 AM

Ben, You might be confusing a few issues with 1080i vs. 1080p from a political standpoint.

I never said you can’t get “HD resolutions” out of Component for AACS protected content.  What I said was that AACS limits analog connections to 1080i output.  It has nothing to do with ICT being set, it is a blanket policy that has always been in the specs.  It got the most press with the release of the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive (pre HDMI Xboxes).  Richard actually did a post on it for Engadget HD as well (http://www.engadgethd.com/2006/09/21/xbox-360-hd-dvd-playback-maximum-1080i-via-component-1080p-vga/).

ICT doesn’t impact digital connections because digital connections require HDCP for AACS protected playback.  If HDCP is there then ICT doesn’t matter one bit because you will still get full resolution output (eg. 1080p).  ICT really only matters for analog connections.  If set instead of the max output resolution being 1080i, it would be 540p.

Chris

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/24  at  10:13 AM

The comment in the article was specific to protected 1080p content, not HD in general. No judgments were made about the relative merit of 1080p vs 1080i, or component vs HDMI.

Posted by Dave Zatz  on  08/24  at  10:14 AM

Apple TV and Xbox 360 don’t seem to have any problems sending HD content over component. Not sure what Vudu’s DVD comparison is all about.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/24  at  10:21 AM

Well, I’m only just re-reading the “component” section of the article, and it looks like I definitely missed a word in there.

Donnigan was in fact commenting about 1080p, not just “HD”.

I’m sure that was my fault, and must have led to a lot of the confusion here.

I will add the clarification in the story.

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  08/24  at  10:30 AM

Chris,
Perhaps I am confused, but then again I never read the AACS specs. My understanding (despite what Richard wrote on EHD) was that the reason 1080p didn’t happen over component was because it wasn’t part of the spec. As I’m sure you know, component and VGA are close brothers and VGA has no problem doing 1080p on HTPCs playing Blu-ray discs. At the same time, I don’t know of a single HDTV or STB that supports 1080p via component, and this goes back long before AACS was even a consideration

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  08/24  at  10:42 AM

Julie,
Thanks for the clarification, but again no CE device released to consumers supports 1080p via component, so even if Vudu did it, it would be for not.

It however be be useful if like Apple TV, Xbox 360, DirecTV, Dish, every cable provider box, every Blu-ray player and every HD DVD player made, would support other HD resolutions via component, then all your component loving readers would be able to deliver HD from a Vudu to their customers at either 720p or 1080i. Sure it isn’t 1080p, but when you really get down to it Vudu’s 1080p doesn’t look very 1080p anyways.

Posted by Chris Lanier  on  08/24  at  01:08 PM

Ben,

When you write content protection policy the issue is hardly never “there is no official spec so we are not going to address it.”  smile  Much like any legal document you cover all of your bases and since Component capture devices/cards have existed for the past few years you can most likely thank those for the 1080i limit.  I don’t believe there are much in the way of VGA capture devices and thus the AACS specs give it a max of 1080p.

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  08/24  at  03:37 PM

Chris,
The only real difference between component and VGA (other than the obvious physical connection) is that the sync is on green. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive component to VGA adapters, that have been available long before AACS was a tinkle in Hollywood’s eye.

But just because you asked, you may want to check out the ZvBox, which does almost the same thing the HD PVR can do, but with VGA instead of component. All you’d need to record with it, is an inexpensive clear QAM tuner.

But regardless, making a HD PVR device that accepts VGA input is no harder than making a component capture device, but much less useful because most sources of HD content don’t have VGA out.

By all means, if you want to show me where it is stated in the AACS spec, then I’ll concede, otherwise we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by Chris Lanier  on  08/24  at  07:03 PM

Typically the reasoning for decisions are not included in the specs for content protection, so I guess we have to agree to disagree on that.

Anyway, to answer Julies question of “can component video cannot pass 1080p on protected content ... legally.”, the answer is no for any AACS protected content and only Vudu knows the answer to what the studios are allowing them to do on the streaming side.

Posted by Andrew Finkel  on  08/25  at  05:48 AM

As to whether VUDU can pass technically pass 1080P over component the answer is it is entirely possible, the PS3 when it first shipped could pass 1080P over component for games only and the XBOX will also pass 1080P content or will up-convert 1080i and 720P over component to 1080P.

Derek is right in pointing out the distinction in 1080P protected content, I can not believe that the studios are going to provide VUDU 1080P native content, beyond the piracy concerns, based on the huge file sizes and more importantly the time it would take for an end user to download such content would be , based on current average internet speeds, unacceptably long and tedious, like at least 8 hours a movie.

And that is not even taking into account packet throttling of video packets that all the major internet providers are actively engaged in to counter the effect of Bit Torrent and others and the fact that that type of packet content is in directly competition with their own VOD products and offerings.

I frankly don’t see why the ability to pass 1080P signals, which I am pretty sure are 1080I and 720P native content that is being unconverted over component is a big deal anyway.

Nevertheless, I would want a MAJOR studio name as well as an executive with that major studio’s name as source before I gave any credence to VUDO’s claim.

Posted by VUDUPatrick  on  08/25  at  03:13 PM

A quick clarification.  While we’d love to support 1080p over component I don’t believe the current hardware is capable.  So, expect up to 1080i being available on component with 1080p24 still available on HDMI.

Patrick Ellis
Sr Product Manager, VUDU

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