Critics say that if you want the highest-quality streaming video, Vudu's offerings are better overall than the competition and are notably better in the case of the company's HDX format. Vudu, which is owned by Walmart, originally required its own set-top box, but it has abandoned that model in favor of streaming video partnerships with a host of consumer-electronics manufacturers. Compatibility with home-theater electronics (HDTVs, Blu-ray players, etc.) isn't as wide as with Netflix (*Est. $8 per month), but is pretty robust in its own right including support for TVs and Blu-ray players from makers such as Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Vizio and others. It's also available on the Sony PlayStation 3 game console and has been recently added to the Microsoft Xbox 360. You can also watch videos in a web browser at Walmart.com or on the Apple iPad.
Vudu does a good job of getting current releases on the same day that they are released on DVD and Blu-ray. Movies are also available for purchase (*Est. $5 to $25), but you don't get possession of the files -- just the right to stream them again and again to any device you've registered with Vudu. TV programs have become a more important part of the service's offerings -- with more than 800 complete TV seasons offered, many in the highest, HDX quality. Vudu is also the only streaming service to date to offer 3D content, though that library is not very large -- just 15 full-length movies and a number of free trailers and demos. Some estimates place the overall movie library at more than 10,000 titles, but only a little more than 5,000 of those are in the higher quality HD or HDX format. Many of the SD-only films are low-quality filler. However, Vudu also has several "art house" collections, including titles from the Criterion Collection and the Tribeca Film Festival.
While critics love the video quality, cost is a concern. Titles -- especially HDX titles -- are expensive. If you are interested in a less costly video streaming service, Netflix has a library that's nearly as large and charges a flat fee for all the movies you can download and watch. Quality, especially for HD titles, is good, but Vudu is still better in that regard. In addition, Netflix doesn't have very many of the latest titles.
The best comparative review of Vudu can be found at Mashable.com, which offers comparisons and opinions of eight video streaming services. Vudu is also included in the analysis of which services offer the most recent hit movies at TNL.net. ConsumerReports.org compares the content and cost of Vudu to other streaming content providers, while TechOfTheHub.com does the same but includes a host of additional technical details. Other helpful feedback can be found at PCMag.com, About.com, Wired, ITWorld.com and The New York Times.
Mashable.com says that Vudu is unmatched when it comes to streaming video quality -- especially content in the HDX format. However, the library is smaller than that of as some competitors and the video streaming service can get expensive.
Review: 5 of the Best Streaming Media Services Compared, Christina Warren, Feb. 14, 2011
This article looks at five online video streaming services. In addition to comments, this article includes an informative chart that compares features, content and costs. Vudu is named the service with the best video quality, with its HDX format being nearly the quality of Blu-ray Discs, Gabe Gagliano says.
Review: Streaming Services Compared: Amazon, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Netflix and VUDU, Gabe Gagliano, Aug. 29, 2011
This article looks at which streaming video service does the best job of delivering recent top hits. Vudu holds its own among top pay-per-view rental services, including Amazon Instant Video and iTunes, with all three outdistancing Netflix. He adds that there's little to differentiate Vudu from iTunes or Amazon Instant Video when it comes to the number of available top hits, though he notes Vudu is the only one to deliver 3D content and 7.1 sound on some titles.
Review: Where the Hits Are Streaming in 2011, Tristan Louis, Jan. 14, 2012
This round-up looks at on-demand and subscription video streaming services, as well as some that still rent DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. Discussion is brief, but Mike Isaac dings Vudu for its lack of an all-you-can-watch streaming option.
Review: From Apple to Vudu: 8 Netflix Alternatives Compared, Mike Isaac, Sept. 21, 2011
ConsumerReports.org looks at the library size and pricing of several top Internet streaming services. However, little other information is provided and no recommendations are made.
Review: How pricier Netflix stands up to other options, Paul Eng, July 13, 2011
Jeffrey L. Wilson gives Vudu only a so-so 3-star rating. He laments that HD content can only be viewed on an HDTV or a Blu-ray player, not on a PC or iPad, which is the only mobile device supported. He only tests the service with an SD title, which means video quality for HD or HDX content is not addressed.
Review: Vudu, Jeffrey L. Wilson, Aug. 17, 2011
The Vudu video streaming service is profiled in this report. A link leads to a review of Vudu's new 3D content, which is praised as being comparable quality-wise to what's available via Blu-ray. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: What is Vudu?, Barb Gonzalez
Vudu streaming video on the Sony PlayStation 3 is evaluated here. While some glitches are groused about -- some digital noise is noted as a buffering delay -- the overall impression is very positive.
Review: Hands on: Vudu Streaming 1080P Movies to the PlayStation 3, Peter Stark, Nov. 24, 2010
9. The New York Times
David Pogue praises Vudu, as accessed with an LG Blu-ray player. Image quality is a major plus -- better, he says, than any other video streaming service. The availability of new releases is excellent, Pogue adds. However, watching Vudu over a slow Internet connection is problematic. The short 24-hour rental window is also a disappointment.
Review: Vudu Lives (Outside the Box), David Pogue, Feb. 10, 2010