Vudu service offers direct-to-set-top video downloads

Posted by Mark Raby

New York (NY) - Vudu, a new video download service, was announced this week, along with proprietary set-top boxes designed to deliver downloadable high definition movies.

The Vudu box aims to be different than competing offerings in the Xbox 360 and Tivo by offering a seamless, dedicated system to offer a wide selection of downloads.

Reuters reports that that Vudu has already struck licensing agreements with 20th Century Fox, Disney, New Line Cinema, Paramount, Warner Bros, and Universal.  Over 5000 movies are available to users, claims Vudu.

Digital video downloads are most common with PC-based applications such as iTunes, Movielink, and Cinema Now.  There are other set-top boxes that allow similar services, though.  Microsoft's Xbox 360, for example, has a collection of TV shows and movies that are downloaded and viewed directly from the console.  Tivo Series 2 and 3 boxes allow users to purchase movies from Amazon's Unbox service without touching a computer.

However, both of these have limitations.  The Xbox 360 currently only allows users to "rent" videos, meaning they become inaccessible after 24 hours.  Amazon Unbox, meanwhile, offers only a modest assortment of content, and Tivo charges a monthly service fee.

The Vudu box will retail for a steep $399.  On top of that users will need to pay anywhere from $5 to $20 to purchase a movie.  New releases will sell for the same price as their DVD counterpart.

The new device is set to begin shipping to retailers next month.