Vudu: Early reviews of the $400 movie box

Pay for a device for the privilege of paying more to rent movies instantly. Reviews aren't as negative as you'd expect.

By Farhad Manjoo
Published September 6, 2007 9:16PM (UTC)
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Vudu, the long-in-"stealth mode" start-up that made its public debut in the New York Times in the spring, has put its wares on sale. The company makes a box -- also called Vudu -- that it wants us to think of as a personal video store in your living room. The unit sells for $400, and it lets you watch one of 5,000 movies instantly -- you either rent the movies (for between $1 and $4, depending on the specific movie), or buy ($5 to $20).

It seems like a pricey outlay, especially given the selection -- rent-by-mail services, after all, offer more than 70,000 titles -- but some of the tech reviewers who got to test the Vudu are largely impressed. CNet gives the device a 7.7 out of 10, praising its selection of new releases, its video and audio quality, and its simple setup. The Times' David Pogue praises much the same things; he's especially enamored of the quick action: "Find a movie, either by typing part of its name or by browsing the New Releases, Genres, Staff Favorites or Most Popular lists. Click past the price/confirmation screen. Start watching."


USA Today's Edward C. Baig, though, finds less to love, giving the thing 2.5 stars out of four. Baig's first Vudu had a corrupted hard drive, and a second model the firm sent him didn't work with his Sony TV.

Baig also argues that $400 is "a lot to pay for the convenience" of getting movies instantly. "Even with no subscription fees, I'm having a difficult time coming to grips with Vudu's pricing."

But if money's no object, you can pre-order yours now.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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