Shop Talk: The Cloud
Vudu and Amazon
By David Mumpower
July 13, 2012
Her Kindle is 6”, which makes it smaller than any single hard cover book in her collection. I know that I’ve mentioned this before but it’s a huge deal in this household. This represents a less heralded aspect of moving to the cloud that matters in a person’s daily life. Evaluate how much storage room is required to host your current media content and you will appreciate the elegance of cloud hosting.
When I originally chose a service for hosting our movies, I gravitated toward Amazon since I had previously stored so many television shows there. To my frustration, Amazon is behind the curve with movies, though. Amazon television programming can be purchased in 1080p, which forward proofs the user’s personal library. Movies function differently. While a user can rent titles in HD, ownership is only possible in standard definition. I have to believe that at some point Amazon will allow upgrade options for current content license owners. Until this policy is implemented, I do not recommend movie purchases through the Amazon service.
Vudu is the movie cloud host of choice in my estimation. There are several reasons for this, old and new. The explanation for why I originally populated my Vudu library was that they were the first service to sell titles in HD. In fact, there are tiers on this service that enable the user to determine the level of digital quality they prefer. SD at 480p is the cheapest while their HD tier is 720p. Their top of the line streaming is HDX, which is a 1080p delivery system. In other words, Vudu matches Blu-Ray output quality without the need for physical media.
There are other aspects of the service that appeal to me as well. For example, Vudu has been providing 3D streaming titles for a while now. To this moment, they are still the only online service that offers such functionality. I would add that 3D streaming is not as high in quality as 3D Blu-Rays. I do not want to get into the technical explanation for this because…I don’t know it.
I can state with confidence, however, that when my wife and I watch Tangled on Vudu, it does not dazzle the way that the disc does. In fact, we continue to maintain a small library of 3D discs for exactly this reason. In addition, Vudu recently raised the prices of 3D titles from $16.99-$21.99 to $29.99-$34.99, presumably in response to pressure from content owners. And the same clueless idiots also removed 3D rental as an option for almost all titles in existence.
In other words, Vudu was much better with 3D at the end of 2011 than it is in the middle of 2012, which is not how technology should work. This is an excellent example of how corporate meddling messes up viewing habits although the Viacom/DirecTV and AMC/Dish squabbles are probably all the demonstration you need. At this point, the hosting of content on the Internet is still a wild frontier in the eyes of many studio execs, and so the rules in play are mercurial.
Some of Vudu’s 2012 changes are quite positive, though. As an example, Vudu recently became the first mainstream streaming service to play Ultraviolet content in HD. This is the part where you should pay particular attention. Here is what it means to you as a potential user. If you have purchased a disc with an Ultraviolet code, you should go to UVVU.com and set up an account. Then, go to the appropriate internet location listed with your code and enter that number in the accompanying input field. Ultraviolet.Flixster.com works for most titles. Once you have done so, you now own a permanent license of this particular movie. Next, set up a Vudu account if you do not already have one and link it to your Ultraviolet account. Voila! You now have the ability to stream your movie whenever you want and since there are also Vudu apps for smartphones and tablets, you have portable, effectively constant access.
Given the above, the key is to start building your library as soon as possible. Why should you pay money for premium television programming when you already possess a catalog of your favorite movie and television titles, after all? You want to seed your cloud with as much content as you can and the sooner the better. This is where Vudu and Ultraviolet shine. And this is where we will continue in the next column.