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Vudu Set-Top Box Weds Legal P2P and HD Movies

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the smells-like-money dept.

121

prostoalex writes "The New York Times is running a story on a Silicon Valley company that is planning to revolutionize the movie business. It's no secret that the movie-going experience has been deteriorating, while the number of HDTVs sold has been rising steadily. A company called Vudu, run by a guy who started TiVo, is now building a box for peer-to-peer download of movies straight from the studios. That could enables the movie studios to make movies securely available to viewers on the day of release, and improves on the download experience offered by other shops, like Amazon Unbox, MovieLink and others: 'DVD sales began to stagnate because studios had finally plowed through their entire backlog of movies that could be released on the shiny discs. The success of iTunes was also proving that the digital transition was inevitable and that one powerful player, Apple, could control the market if Hollywood did not find other viable partners. And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.'"

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How long? (1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917709)

Can somebody tell me how long will it take to hack into this box and reuse the code in some PC apps?
I don't think film studios are going to be particularly happy and enthusiastic about it. Plus of course it will need to use DRM. Which one? Most of them are already broken, or will be in not-so-long time. And royalties will need to go to someone.

As always, idea is brilliant, but there's a chance that MPIA will block it before it actually starts. They're just too scared of any new technologies...

Just my 2c.

Re:How long? (2, Funny)

pytheron (443963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917849)

Can somebody tell me how long will it take to hack into this box and reuse the code in some PC apps?
It's not even built yet !! No, we can't tell you. How long is a piece of string ? ;)

Re:How long? (4, Funny)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917959)

//How long is the piece of string?

From one end to another... ;)

Re:How long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18919553)

My dad always said it was "twice the length from the middle to the end".

Re:How long? (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919931)

My dad always said it was "twice the length from the middle to the end".
But which end?

Re:How long? (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920015)

The longer one.

Re:How long? (1)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918715)

How long is a piece of string ? ;)

int stringLength = string.length();

Re:How long? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918857)

Never long enough if you're using unsafe functions like strcpy! ;)

Buffer overflow!

Re:How long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18919319)

Twice half it's length...

Bad copy? (2, Insightful)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917711)

Vudu seems to be a copy of Apple TV. It has a similar-sized box with a similar aesthetic, and an equally sparse remote. What it adds over the Apple TV seems to be direct download without a computer, and a composite video out. There's also no mention of podcast support, which is the real innovation from the Apple TV, in my mind.

Am I missing something? Is this really revolutionary? (Not that the Apple TV is either, but it's probably the best-known set-top box with podcast support.)

Re:Bad copy? (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917721)

Oh, and the peer-to-peer dimension of this box is merely a marketing and implementation detail--people equate "P2P" with "free," but the average movie lover could care less that the Vudu does P2P, unless their broadband is metered and they get a nasty surprise at the end of the month.

Re:Bad copy? (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917803)

It's revolutionary because this time the DRM is going to work.

Re:Bad copy? (3, Funny)

Mountaineer1024 (1024367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917885)

The DRM is going to work because it's implemented in a closed system?
Wow, you better run out and tell Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony!
All of them have put closed hardware in peoples living rooms and NONE of them have been hacked!

</sarcasm>

Re:Bad copy? (2, Informative)

romland (192158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918029)

Hmm. Referring to your sarcasm here, I don't know what you mean when you say "hacked". In Microsoft's case I dare say it's been successful. Sure, you can run pirated games on it, but it's far from a "hack once, run everywhere" trick. And it does seem like Microsoft could care less about the DVD-drive hack. What they *do* care about is the integrity of the box, they want it to remain closed and I think they have been damn successful in doing that.

Sure, there was a hole which enabled people to run unsigned code for a short period of time there, but they fixed that very smoothly by blowing an efuse on the CPU and tadaa problem fixed. And with fixed I mean: Sure, you can keep your 360 at that kernel, but you WILL be forced to upgrade sooner or later if you want to use the bloody thing for anything other than running unsigned code.

So, it really *does* look like Microsoft is close to closing down that box. But say, if there was DRM that could be cracked in it there might be a whole new heap of hackers that would put their effort into getting into the box and that might yield more results than what we've seen so far.

Not sure if it really should be sarcasm in Microsoft's case. As for the state of Nintendo's and Sony's current-gen boxes, I don't know.

Re:Bad copy? (2, Informative)

Darkinspiration (901976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918833)

it's only a matter of time. The original xbox took quite a bit of time to be hacked to.

Re:Bad copy? (3, Insightful)

mgv (198488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918097)

It's revolutionary because this time the DRM is going to work.

See my .sig

Michael

Re:Bad copy? (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918007)

What it adds over the Apple TV seems to be direct download without a computer

You've answered your own question genius! People want their device to just work, not have to fuck round setting up a PC for it to hook into.

Re:Bad copy? (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920537)

To be fair, I don't expect people who don't already own a PC/Mac to purchase the AppleTV (or even know it exists for that matter), and likewise, I also see a similar result for people who don't know how to setup iTunes (it comes preinstalled on a Mac, and some of the most blatantly computer-illiterate people I know have installed iTunes on Windows just fine).

I still think the AppleTV is poor value for money though.

Re:Bad copy? (1)

crumley (12964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918229)

There's also no mention of podcast support, which is the real innovation from the Apple TV, in my mind.
What is revolutionary about podcast support? TiVo has had it for years?

Re:Bad copy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18918267)

Well, he did add "Not that the Apple TV is either, but it's probably the best-known set-top box with podcast support." at the end when asking about the product being revolutionary.

If studios sign up to release their movies on this machine at the same time as in theaters, it will be revolutionary.

Re:Bad copy? (1)

crumley (12964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919841)

Ack, I missed that. Though I would say that TiVo is still better known than Apple TV. Though that may npt last long.

Re:Bad copy? (1)

tji (74570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918847)

AppleTV does have a component video out, in addition to the HDMI output.

But, the AppleTV is by no means perfect. It seems to be underpowered for much HDTV content. Their specs limit HD to 720p @ 24fps at up to 5Mbps. That is not enough to be very flexible with HD. But, it's still hard to say how good it will be, because Apple doesn't have any HD content available.

Hopefully the Vudu has a more capable video chip, which offloads more of the decoding process. Those chips are available, I'm surprised Apple didn't use a real decoder rather than a standard Nvidia GPU.

Also, if the Vudu is more open, and inter-operates well with UPnP apps, photo management apps (including iPhoto), it will be much better than the AppleTV. But, that's all theoretical, I have no knowledge of what their solution will be like.

Re:Bad copy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18919613)

component video out != composite video out.

Costs for the user? (3, Interesting)

maubp (303462) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917749)

According to market analysist Nicholas Donatiello Jr quoted in the article, the ball park could be $300 for the box and between $6 adn $10 per movie. But they didn't touch on the bandwidth/data costs to the user - and as they are going with a peer-to-peer system, each customer will be donating some of their upload bandwidth too (possibly even when not watching a movie).

Re:Costs for the user? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18917929)

Unless they're getting into the ISP business too, I'd expect the user will have to find their own flat-rate uncapped ISP plan. Which they probably have already, if they're in this market.

Re:Costs for the user? (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920581)

I'm Canadian, so maybe things are incredibly different up here, but I pay $49.95 (CAD, not USD) and I have a limit of 100GB a month, and I have to use at least 120GB before they'll even bother send me a threatening email, let alone actually doing something serious. Excluding movie buffs who watch 5 or 6 movies a week, is bandwidth really that limited down in the States that this would pose a problem?

Let's say it is 2GB per movie, and everyone has a share ratio of 1.0 before they stop seeding. So that is 4GB per movie. I'll minus off 3GB for regular internet tasks (most non-techies wouldn't even use that).

100-3=97
97/4=24

So that is 24 movies per month. I'm sure anyone who watches more than that would be willing to pay to upgrade their bandwidth. And I'm sure the vast majority of people would MAYBE watch 5 or 6 movies a month tops.

Again, I've never even been on US territory, so I could be way off-base about the broadband situation down there. I've often heard the situation in Canada is better.

Re:Costs for the user? (2, Informative)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918837)

A better idea would be to put a high speed downloading machine into the local video rental store. The store could download the top ten Hollywood movies in high res (or get a shipment of disks). Then the home movie viewer/renter could bring a hard disk or iPod-like device to the local video rental store and download the movie into the device. Then plug it into the home theater for viewing. That way they don't have to tie up their movie machine for hours downloading a single copy of the movie.
    This whole idea is lame because it completely underestimates the value of the high-speed bandwidth needed to download gigabytes of redundant movie data. I'd bet the farm that the people who thought this up have no idea that bandwidth costs money, or that it takes time to download full-length feature length films. I'd bet that they thought that the user would just call some telephone number, press a button at a movie title, and the entire film would just appear for free in 15 seconds into the user's settop box. I'll bet that the people that they pitched for the startup capital actually believe this too.
    This idea is so lame. It will go nowhere. Too bad the people who dream up this stuff don't read Slashdot.

Re:Costs for the user? (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919821)

Who the hell modded this informative? This poster has obviously not RTFA and is just trolling. The post is factually incorrect. And by the way, Do you know how long it takes to copy gigabytes of redundant movie data to an iPod? I believe most of broadband users have download speeds of 1.5Mbps or more. That's more than enough to comfortably stream a 480p movie using an mpeg4 codec (h264 if the box is able, XviD equivalent if not). There is absolutely no reason the movie couldn't start playing within 10 seconds and keep going without interruptions. A combination of highspeed servers and peers will work. Ah, and the movies wouldn't take more than 1000 MB. Don't get me wrong. A $300 box and $6 movie rentals is a ripoff. Using people's upload without compensating them is a ripoff. The quality of the movies will have to be inferior to DVD for the bitrates to remain acceptable. And ontop of that, DRM! The only enticing part of this is the instant gratification. There are better and cheaper illegal alternatives out there. DRM-free, any resolution you want, biggest media selection in the world. And honestly, I don't see how anyone could feel guilty using those alternatives, given the way certain content producing companies treat their customers. Just because they're not doing anything illegal (Duh, they can actually buy laws. Remember the 20 year extension of copyright? How about the DMCA? How about going to jail for taping a movie in a theater?) does not mean they are any more ethical than the pirates they try to demonize. Fuck them.

Properly formatted answer. Ignore the duplicate. (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919835)

Who the hell modded this informative? This poster has obviously not RTFA and is just trolling. The post is factually incorrect.

And by the way, Do you know how long it takes to copy gigabytes of redundant movie data to an iPod?

I believe most of broadband users have download speeds of 1.5Mbps or more. That's more than enough to comfortably stream a 480p movie using an mpeg4 codec (h264 if the box is able, XviD equivalent if not). There is absolutely no reason the movie couldn't start playing within 10 seconds and keep going without interruptions. A combination of highspeed servers and peers will work. Ah, and the movies wouldn't take more than 1000 MB.

Don't get me wrong. A $300 box and $6 movie rentals is a ripoff. Using people's upload without compensating them is a ripoff. The quality of the movies will have to be inferior to DVD for the bitrates to remain acceptable. And ontop of that, DRM!

The only enticing part of this is the instant gratification. There are better and cheaper illegal alternatives out there. DRM-free, any resolution you want, biggest media selection in the world. And honestly, I don't see how anyone could feel guilty using those alternatives, given the way certain content producing companies treat their customers. Just because they're not doing anything illegal (Duh, they can actually buy laws. Remember the 20 year extension of copyright? How about the DMCA? How about going to jail for taping a movie in a theater?) does not mean they are any more ethical than the pirates they try to demonize.

Fuck them.

Re:Costs for the user? (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920599)

Who says the movie has to finish downloading before you start to watch it? Joost uses Bittorrent, and there is a delay of.....15 seconds before a show starts playing. It continues downloading in the background while you watch the parts already downloaded (this is called..."streaming"...btw).

5,000 videos of rubbish (5, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917761)

The box's biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection.
Either this is going to be limited in which areas it is deployed or else this is hyperbole of the extreme. I doubt it will be able to deliver instantaneous playing straight for people no matter where they are in America as there are many places that do not have broadband.

If Vudu succeeds, it may mean goodbye to laborious computer downloads, sticky-floored movie theaters and cable companies' much narrower video-on-demand offerings.
Good luck with that. However the technology to release movies simultaneously with theatre releases has existed for some time (VHS), and every major studio released their stuff on VHS, but somehow managed to delay the VHS release until after the theatre release in most cases. I don't see anything in Vudu's offering that is likely to change this. Also if this requires I have an internet connection (it was a little light on that detail) then it won't do very well as people typically do not want their internet connection slowing to a halt because little billy wants to 101 Dalmatians. Also it doesn't mention if I will be able to burn my movie onto a DVD. If I can then what sort of DRM am I going to get encumbered with? If not, then I don't see these replacing DVDs (or Bluray/HDDVD). People like to be able to take a movie to their friends place without their friend needing to have a Vudu. Now unless Vudu quickly becomes cheaper then DVDs, I see this being too large a hurdle for it to overcome.

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918551)

How many people can afford to have a room in their house that could come close to the quality that one can get at a theater? The size to the screen and quality of the sound would set someone back in the 10's of thousand of dollars. This is just like sports. It use to be that the average person could afford to go to a sporting event. Now one has to be in the top 25% at least to be able to afford a ticket. It seems that with television revenue it is enough revenue since they have yet to close any teams. Theaters are already way to expensive. The cost per hour for your children is way more than going to an amusement park. I have taken my children to a near by park for around $26 for 10 hours or $2.60 per hour. The theaters cost more than that before one adds the cost of refreshments. The cost of tickets will than have to go up when some of the people will be able to view the movie at home. This will drive some theaters out of business and deny its experience to a large segment of the population. How many hours at minimum wage does it cost to go to the theater? Compare that with the hours of minimum wage 20 years ago and one will find that it is too much. It is just not the entertainment industry it is also the cost of automobile, the cost of health care, the cost of home ownership, the cost of college as they are all going way beyond the ability of a lot of the people.

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (2, Interesting)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918703)

When you sit closer to the screen, you don't WANT a screen the same size as a theatre. (Ever sat on the front row? Too close/big!)

I have a simple 800X600 projector (so movies are standard def) showing on a 7' diagonal screen, and it's nearly as enjoyable as going to the theatre. I can enjoy much better seating, all the treats I want, and not have to worry about random people ruining the experience. If I had the money for a nicer (1080p) projector and high definition movies, I can see going to theatres even less than I already do. Sure, it's not QUITE the same -- but the benefits outweigh the costs.

How can I afford it? The projector was under $1000 (3 years ago) and the screen is homemade. Not really that expensive.

Of course, from the rest of your post, I'm not sure we aren't arguing the same point. :P

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (1)

espressojim (224775) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918835)

Same situation, but 1280x720 resolution (sanyo Z1), and a 'free with projector' 100 inch screen, for $1200.

This stuff really isn't that difficult to set up. These days I can even run it from my macbook pro, if you don't want to have a dedicated computer in the room.

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18922991)

Ever sat on the front row?
Yes, I always do when I go alone. Well, the second row, anyway; I like to scoot down and rest my knees on the backs of the front row. For the last few Harry Potter and Star Wars movies, I've gone with my wife shortly after it opened, and then again by myself a week or two later -- usually on a Sunday morning before she's awake.

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920669)

Yes, awesome theatre quality!! I get to hear random cell phones ringing, kids (and some adults) talking, occasional people fighting, my shoes fused to the floor by fermenting drinks, etc etc.

Oh, and let's not forget not being able to go to the bathroom for the entire movie without missing some of it.

I'd take a 42" LCD TV over the theatre any day of the week.

Oh, and btw, there's a reason the front 3 rows of the theatre are rarely taken. The reason for that is because when you have a screen that huge, you don't want to be sitting close to it. So when you're forced to sit close to a screen (say due to the size constraints of....your living room for instance) you tend to want a smaller screen (let's say between 32 and 52 inches for the sake of argument).

And last but not least, I don't have to pay $7 or $8 for a bag of popcorn at home. I can pop it myself (and have it taste better than the crap you get at the theatre) for a fraction of the cost.

Not to say that you shouldn't enjoy the theatre. But many people would hardly call the theatre "quality".

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919245)

Presumably, with the limited amount of movies which sit in the box office at any given time, this could be done pretty easily.

You begin precaching chapters of the movie at the same time they get sent off to reproduction for theater distribution, and push them over the course of 6 to 8 weeks to all of the set-top boxes.

Even at the worst broadband speeds, a high definition movie could be easily streamed to one of these boxes.

Throw a cheap 1 tb RAID0 in the machine and you've got enough space to store 20 full blu-ray movies, or more than enough to keep every major studio picture on set top boxes for the first 3 weeks of its run time, even during the summer release rush.

Re:5,000 videos of rubbish (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920267)

Throw a cheap 1 tb RAID0 in the machine and you've got enough space to store 20 full blu-ray movies, or more than enough to keep every major studio picture on set top boxes for the first 3 weeks of its run time, even during the summer release rush.
Sure, but what about all the other movies people want? The NY Times article talks about how one of Vudu's founders got interested in the idea because his wife couldn't find an obscure 1980's video about Marco Polo. Caching isn't going to help with that. The whole concept doesn't make sense.

Do people care? (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917777)

while the number of HDTVs sold has been rising steadily.

I see statements like that and wonder if it is truely rising or if it's just that HDTVs are comming down steadily in price and so rather than wanting a HDTV they just buy the best set of features (aka what the sales guy says) which happens to be the latest TV. This would explain why more HDTVs are slowly being sold while the interest level (as far as I can see) is very low even among people with HDTV consoles which would benefit from them.

But I suppose HDTV is much like Vista. We have no real control over the market, we have a market for both (HDTV and normal TVs/Vista and XP) until the makers decide the pull the plug and we're forced to one option even if we hate it.

Re:Do people care? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918737)

Bingo!

HDTV's are getting affordable and people are buying them. Problem is they ignore the other facts.

1 - SD tv from your cable company looks incredibly bad on a HDTV. All that blockyness was smudged into an acceptable picture on your 32" Tube TV set. that nice crisp 720P display shows all the digital cable glory of blocks and artifacts. The HD channels that they do get and their DVD's look better, but the 90% of the channels they watch look crappier now.

Oh they also notice their Tivo looks crappy and the 40 hour unit become a 8 hour unit as they have to up the record quality to maximum to not get disgusted, this pisses them off more.

There are a huge number of downs to buying a HD display. None of which are told to you by the salesmen, the magazines that ooze all over the sets, or others in casual discussion as they dont want to sound like morons for buying a $4500.00 tv that looks crappier to them than their old TV.

Until CATV and Sattelite up their bandwidth so you are not compressing the channel to a 480X480 picture and then compressing the mpeg stream to 3-4megabit (IF YOU ARE LUCKY) then the SD channels will look like crap.

Those settings look good on a older SDTV. It's simply that the delivery companies are unwilling to buy the gear to make the channels look better.

Hey, a change to mpeg4 like dish is doing is impossible for a cabletv company. they would have to almost gut their headend and ad insertion gear.

So we are stuck with crappy picture on SD channels and the quiet secret that people are unwilling to tell others that buy a HDTV.

It's like the people that claim that XM and Sirius sounds as good as a CD... These people must be blind as the sattelite radio people must be deaf.

Re:Do people care? (0, Redundant)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918997)

All that blockyness was smudged into an acceptable picture on your 32" Tube TV set. that nice crisp 720P display shows all the digital cable glory of blocks and artifacts.
Maybe you never watch cartoons, but I can see the artifacts all the time on my 20-something inch standard-definition TV in my room over here. We have Dish Network, but I've seen worse (e.g., Comcast Digital Cable). I blame the fact that they're still using MPEG-2 video encoding; they could up the quality quite a bit and still save bandwidth if they were using MPEG-4 ASP or AVC, VC1, Theora (VP3), or VP7 to name a few modern video codecs.

It's like the people that claim that XM and Sirius sounds as good as a CD... These people must be blind as the sattelite radio people must be deaf.
Maybe you haven't listened to XM or Sirius on a car stereo, but I don't notice any real differences in an environment like that, and I'm an audiophile even! Then again, I typically listen to Sirius 27 (heavy metal) and 23 (80's rock), and that sort of music typically compresses better than jazz or classical music (which I have stored only as FLAC in my collection). I don't know the exact specs, but what's played on satellite radio is much better fidelity than on typical radio (FM band), and is better quality than most crap you could get on popular P2P networks (which excludes IRC and BitTorrent where "high quality" MP3s and higher quality FLACs dominate). Besides, I like to use Sirius (along with sites like Last.fm) to find new music to buy on CD or via sites like Magnatune that sell FLACs.

Once again, I'd like to complain that some of my favourite cartoons (Futurama, Ed Edd 'n Eddy, any anime, Fairly Oddparents, Jimmy Neutron (which is 3d CGI anyhow which should compress better than cartoons), and many others; by the way, I'm 19) look like total ass when compressed digitally over these networks. I'd hate to see that stretched to fit a resolution like 1440x1080 (4:3 on 1080p), so I agree that this nasty compression is preventing many people from wanting to switch to HD.

Re:Do people care? (1)

revengebomber (1080189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920657)

I don't know about you, but I can just turn down the sharpness on the 480i channels, and presto - no more blocks. The picture still looks way better than my SDTV. (I don't know how well this would work on a fixed-pixel display, tho...)

Re:Do people care? (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18922973)

1 - SD tv from your cable company looks incredibly bad on a HDTV. All that blockyness was smudged into an acceptable picture on your 32" Tube TV set. that nice crisp 720P display shows all the digital cable glory of blocks and artifacts. The HD channels that they do get and their DVD's look better, but the 90% of the channels they watch look crappier now.

Oh they also notice their Tivo looks crappy and the 40 hour unit become a 8 hour unit as they have to up the record quality to maximum to not get disgusted, this pisses them off more.


Considering that almost every HDTV I have seen is set up to distort 4:3 content by stretching it way out, and no one seems to notice - I seriously doubt that Joe Average is going to care about how awful that SD broadcast is on their HDTV.

So.... (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917809)

Their box is planning to upload HDTV vids through average people's internet connection? Most people have enough downloading, thank you. Something tells me QoS routers will get very popular if this catches on. P2P is a great way to "chip in" your bandwidth without actually setting up a central system. If you've set up a central system already, bandwidth is much cheaper and more available centrally than it is for me. With my DSL line I'm basicly capped at whatever they are able to deliver, and I hardly think I'm alone in that. The marginal price for me to have another Mbit of upload capacity is ca. infinite, or at least some ungodly expensive business connection. Easynews offers 20GB download for $10, which is about the same infrastructure Vudu would need to have. I'd easily rather pay 10$ to Vudu than upload 20GB over my connection.

Something seems off here... (4, Interesting)

Underbruin (979259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917833)

From TFA: "It has built a small Internet-ready movie box that connects to the television and allows couch potatoes to rent or buy any of the 5,000 films now in Vudu's growing collection. The box's biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection." Two points. One, the article also makes note of the rise in HDTV sets - if that's indeed the case, wouldn't one selling point be the opportunity to offer movies in some fairly high-definition format (at LEAST DVD-quality)? Even for folks with broadband, most won't have the bandwith to pull down a DVD-or-better quality movie quickly enough to watch in real-time. The other point is the "rent or buy" verbiage - what defines 'renting' or 'buying' (normally I'd only have to ask what defines renting, but considering how the major movie/music studios have handled DRM, one must include buying in that request)? When the article says renting, do they mean along similar lines to what you might receive from a movie store, 3 days and then it goes away? Or do they mean something like purchasing a single viewing, along the lines of what you'd get in a movie theater - if the latter's the case, why the heck would I want to "rent" a new movie for almost the same price as going to see it in theaters? Even the best home setups really just can't compare to watching a movie at the theater, especially with some films being available at IMAX theaters and the like. This brings to light the question of the pricing scheme - new movies more costly than old? More popular movies have floating costs that increment with every X number of downloads? These are things I wouldn't put it past the MPAA to try and implement, and they'd spell a DOA right out of the gate for a service that's trying to supplant internet piracy. After all, you still just can't beat $Free.99 for price.

Re:Something seems off here... (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918259)

No shit eh? Will these guys ever learn? I have a p3 733 that cost me about $100 3 years ago. I added a 128 meg video card and a dvd player. I can play anything on that to my basic tv. Looks fine, works great especially with vnc!

I rip all my kids shows and put em on a server so I don't have to replace dvds every year.

The only movies that we buy are kids shows. I don't watch movies repeatedly but the kids sure do. Even if we do, the prices should be a LOT less. $10? American money? They're nuckin futs! Still way too greedy. Get it down to about 4 or 5 bucks and leave out the damn drm and we're talking. THEN I'll use my bandwidth. Anything more and they better offer a download service like easynews.

Re:Something seems off here... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18921267)

Even the best home setups really just can't compare to watching a movie at the theater

On the best screens. Movies like Pan's Labyrinth and Serenity that go on the side screens are completely underwhelming. A decent projector and a decent surrond system, and you're pretty much there.

Re:Something seems off here... (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18922011)

Another interesting question is what is going to happen when somebodies box is used heavily to send traffic to another box. Are they going to exceed their ISP's bandwidth limit? Many ISPs are already limiting bittorrent traffic.

IMHO, the box that is going to take over the movie rental business is the that is popping into supermarkets everywhere is "Redbox." By time they sort out the HD disc standard "Redbox' will have the infrastructure to handle the demand. Going to the nearest supermarket is very convenient for most people.

Until fiber makes it to the home, that's going to be two primary sources of distribution. Netflix and Redbox.

Deteriorating? (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917847)

It's no secret that the movie-going experience has been deteriorating

How so? What has changed? Are the seats less comfy? Is the pop corn less crunchy? Is the sound less ugh-please-turn-the-bass-down-or-i-am-going-to-bar fy? Or is it that the home theater experience is improving with respect to the real theater experience so it makes you say it's deteriorating?

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

joe_adk (589355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918047)

Well, I know it is deteriorating.

When I was younger me and my friends would go to the theater and watch a few movies. Sure we would talk sometimes, but it was always humorous and appropriate.

These days all the punk kids just sit around the theater talking and ruining my movie. Don't even get me started on the ones on my lawn (kids, not movies).

See, I showed you how the movie-going experience has been deteriorated and the audience has gotten ruder (ruder? more rude?).

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918095)

These days all the punk kids just sit around the theater talking and ruining my movie.

Well, I never got that. Maybe because of the area I'm from, and I'm sure it's not a global trend. Is it? Are kids globally worse behaved than before?

Re:Deteriorating? (2, Insightful)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918195)

Or perhaps our perception and tolerance has changed.
As kids we didn't care or did it ourself. As adults, who can't go everyday or to every move and who don't have two months of summer vacation, we just want to watch the movie and not be annoyed by bored kids.

Re:Deteriorating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18918365)

You have a point there but nobody wants to admit that they're into grumpy old men/women.

Re:Deteriorating? (0, Offtopic)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919075)

Well, there's this one theatre I went to recently that has a strict policy for R-rated films (they get their own hall, and you need both a stamp and your ticket to get in, and they check for ID), and even though there were probably at least 50 kids at the theatre, none of them were in the R-rated films. So, in order to enjoy your movie-going experience, it's best to enjoy crude humour (e.g., Aqua Teen Hunger Force), explosions, gratuitous violence, and sex. Or enjoy films that the kids wouldn't like anyhow.

Re:Deteriorating? (3, Insightful)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918105)

  • People chatting instead of watching the movie. The entire length. (happend to me more than once)
  • Whining kids.
  • Doors not closing automatically when the movie starts, so either you try to ignore the outside glare (really great if the opening scene is quite dark) or you get up and close the door yourself. Which is usually reopened a few minutes later by late people who are looking for a seat. They do this either chatting, either blocking your field of view. Or even worse, they ask you to move from your seat which you have occupied for the last half hour because you were in time and wanted to have a decent position in the theater (relative to the screen) in a chair that is not falling apart.
  • One of the sound boxes fails half way, and keeps churning throughout the remainder.
  • They start playing the wrong movie.
  • Sound system is badly adjusted. Or it's so loud, your ears ring for hours afterwards.
  • The sound from the theater above,below,right, left is seeping through the walls.
  • Misaligned picture.
  • Subtitles (with DVD I can finally turn them off)
  • Toilet fee.
  • Overpriced food and you are not allowed to bring your own.
  • Overpriced tickets. Spend a few euros more and you can buy the dvd after a few months.
  • 20 minutes of commercials, and that amount just keeps rising.
  • etc.
You're right. Nothing has changed. It has always been crappy. But now we finally have a choice. We can watch at our home theater. I don't want to go to the theater anymore. And when I do, I go with friends. I see it then as a social event and just hope the theater experience that evening isn't too bad. Dinner, movie and bar. Most of the weeks we just skip the movie.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918327)

Well, I've only had to complain about the two last points you provided, other than that I've hardly ever had to deal with any of that. Anyways, I agree with you, it doesn't seem like it has deteriorated, it's just that home theater is more interesting now. I'm not a movie person anyway, movies are way too long, I'm totally into series. I mean I never even found the time to watch 300 on my computer, as much as I wanna see it (in spite of its long duration).

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918343)

I think you are going to the wrong theatre. My AMC card has almost 900 points (2 points per movie ticket) and in my entire life, I've never experienced most of those problems.

        * People chatting instead of watching the movie. The entire length. (happend to me more than once)
Tell an employee. (Never happened to me, but then... The few times I was annoyed more than a few minutes, I told an employee and they 'fixed' the 'problem'.)
        * Whining kids.
Tell an employee.
        * Doors not closing automatically when the movie starts, so either you try to ignore the outside glare (really great if the opening scene is quite dark) or you get up and close the door yourself. Which is usually reopened a few minutes later by late people who are looking for a seat. They do this either chatting, either blocking your field of view. Or even worse, they ask you to move from your seat which you have occupied for the last half hour because you were in time and wanted to have a decent position in the theater (relative to the screen) in a chair that is not falling apart.
Most of the theatres I've been to have a multi-turn hallway to prevent this. It also baffles the noise.
        * One of the sound boxes fails half way, and keeps churning throughout the remainder.
Okay, I've had this one. A few times.
        * They start playing the wrong movie.
Never happened to me.
        * Sound system is badly adjusted. Or it's so loud, your ears ring for hours afterwards.
Ring for hours? And you stayed? I've had them be uncomfortable, but I've never had any effects after I left the theatre. And I mean even seconds later.
        * The sound from the theater above,below,right, left is seeping through the walls.
Tell an employee. I've never had to, since they always fix it during the previews.
        * Misaligned picture.
Tell an employee. Again, always fixed during previews.
        * Subtitles (with DVD I can finally turn them off)
If there's subtitles, you're in a CC showing (why'd you pick that?) or a foreign movie. If you really DO speak the foreign language, the subtitles aren't -that- hard to ignore. (Plus it's funny to see how badly translated it is.)
        * Toilet fee.
WHAT!?
        * Overpriced food and you are not allowed to bring your own.
Pick a different theatre. Mine is horribly overpriced, too, but you can bring in candy and drinks all you want. No 'food' such as hotdogs or anything messy, of course.
        * Overpriced tickets. Spend a few euros more and you can buy the dvd after a few months.
Yeah, it's a bit expensive. For a group of 3 people, it'd be cheaper to buy the dvd. Of course, then we wouldn't have a reason to get out of the house for a few hours, though.
        * 20 minutes of commercials, and that amount just keeps rising.
Pick a different theatre. Commercials here are BEFORE the previews, and there's been fewer lately, instead of more. There seems to be about the same number of previews as ever, though.
        * etc.
I'm a mind-reader... This means... 'I can't really think of anything else, but I know there was something. Gum on my shoe, maybe.' And the answer is: Complain or pick another theatre.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918517)

Complain or pick another theatre. Ah, I wish.
The country I live in has a population equal to New York city.
We have one chain (one of the largest if not the largest in Europe) of theater. And at some point I lived near one of the largest theater complex in Europe.
So I can go to the chain, or to the alternative movie house (more cultural, not main stream) if there is one. And sometimes I just want to see hollywood main stream.
No, english is not my native language, so yes I have to suffer the subtitles.
Good luck finding an employee. And don't think they'll rewind because you had a complaint.

Also, why should I complain in the first place? Aren't decent seats, decent picture and sound quality assumed when this is why you go there in the first place? Isn't it common decency to be quiet so that others can enjoy the movie. Is it surprising your kid is scared when it sees something it shouldn't see at that age?

I go to the theater to enjoy the movie. Not to complain, not to get annoyed, not to tell employees how to do their jobs (during which I miss part of the movie, for which I paid dearly).

No, just give me my home theater.

Re:Deteriorating? (0, Troll)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919321)

You guys have american movies in english an subtitled in your language? That sucks, what country do you live in? Here in France the american movie dubbing industry is huge, and every american movie is properly dubbed, and most of the time it sounds better in french than in the original version.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18921509)

lol, wtf, is the guy who modded this Troll is retarded? How on Earth is that trolling?

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18922061)

Then in your place, I'd vote with my wallet. I'd not go to theatres that treat me like I don't matter to them. If you continue to give them your money, you (and everyone else that goes there) are telling them that what they are doing is okay. They -know- it's okay because they are making plenty of money at it.

So you don't have a home theatre yet. Don't use that as a reason to keep paying them money. Find something else to do for a while. Read a book, play a game, build model rockets... Anything. If enough customers quit paying them, they'll realize the error of their ways.

And if enough customers WON'T quit paying them, they'll continue to know that what they are doing is okay because you're willing to keep giving them the money.

I don't shop at businesses that piss me off. I haven't been to McDonalds in almost a decade, and it was almost a decade before that when I went the previous time. Why? They argued with me, wasted my lunch half-hour, and didn't apologize. It wasn't the first time they'd been rude, but it was the last. I'm probably a lot healthier for it, too, but that's a whole other issue.

If I think there's -any- chance a manager will care, I complain. Loudly, if necessary. A few rungs up the corporate ladder, if necessary. But most of the time it's obvious they won't and I don't waste my time. I just go somewhere else.

Seriously, you need to think about doing that. Maybe it'll take a while to find something else you enjoy, but at least you won't be giving your money and your approval to the asshats at the theatre.

Or maybe it IS worth it after all, and you'll keep going.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919345)

he sound from the theater above,below,right, left is seeping through the walls ..... a chair that is not falling apart ..... Toilet fee


Is this a third world country you're talking about, or are theater operators outside the US actively attempting to kill their own business?

Toilet fee? Please tell me what country this is in so that I may avoid it. If it's not free to urinate, it is surely going to be costly for me to ever visit.

Maybe my experience is biased from living in a reasonably prosperous part of the USA most of my life, but the theaters are good quality, the seats are always in good maintenance and clean, the bathrooms are clean (and free), the theaters are insulated well against sound and light pollution, and there is a projectionist in every booth to make sure the sound and picture are working properly.

This is all made possible by the exorbitant rates they charge for food and drink - and the fact that one ticket costs one hour's wages for an employee.

This has honestly been true of every movie theater I've been to in the last 20 years. Not saying the aisles are paved with gold, but at least you usually don't stick to the floor while being stabbed by a faulty seat.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920889)

Is this a third world country you're talking about, or are theater operators outside the US actively attempting to kill their own business? ha, that is funny.
Nope, it's Belgium (11th richest country in the world). Yes, I think they are trying to kill their own business. They certainly have run me away.
Ah, and in some theaters the floors are indeed sticky or not cleaned (well) after a bunch of bored teenagers have passed through.
Don't get me wrong. Most of the time it's agreeable, but sometimes the experience isn't. I am just tired of wondering what kind of evening it will be. How much the prices have gone up and what kind of audience I'll be with.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918123)

For me, the theater experience has been deteriorating because they insist on making me watch, on average, about thirty to fifty minutes of advertising before the movie starts. That often includes a slide show of one-page ads from local used car dealers and so forth. If I want that crap I can get it at home on any of the regular broadcast channels.

Some DVDs are starting to do the same thing (unskippable adverts) and that "deteriorates" the experience for me there as well.

I contrast that to the experience I got growing up in the sixties. Sound systems were nothing like what we have today, and the iMax wasn't even a gleam in some engineer's eye. However, there were no advertisements, and you got to watch a few well-produced theater -quality cartoons. Those served to get you in the right mood before the main feature even started ... it worked, too. Hell, I wouldn't mind if they just brought back some good old Tom & Jerry cartoons as a lead-in. Better than what they're doing now.

Contrast that having to watch commercials. I've walked out a couple of times and got my money back after almost an hour of previews and ads. I told them why, too, and even when I stick around to watch the movie, at that point I'm so irritated that it's hard to really get into the film.

So yeah, it's deteriorated. I'm putting together a projection system for my living room, and odds are that once I have that available to me I'll be going to the theater less often. I wouldn't have bothered if I weren't so annoyed at the way my local theaters have been operated lately.

I know that the theater owner associations have complained that the studios don't leave them enough money to operate without those ad placements. Now, maybe that's true, I don't know, and frankly I don't care. I just want to leave the show not feeling like I just pissed away nine bucks.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918347)

You know what's the weirdest about their ads? It's that, as you pointed, they're local ads for stuff like a local comic books store, but worst part is that you see the same ad before every movie you watch at that theater for about 10 years! Which makes me think that these stores musn't pay that much money for their advertisement, with respect to the price of the ticket (often around 7 euros around here). Wouldn't they attract more people and thus make more money if they completely gave up on the ads?

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918509)

Wouldn't they attract more people and thus make more money if they completely gave up on the ads?

You'd think so, wouldn't you? I dunno ... but what they're doing now is definitely causing me to lose interest. And that's too bad, because there are few things I like better than to watch a good film on the big screen.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923065)

I've walked out a couple of times and got my money back after almost an hour of previews and ads.
Have you tried showing up later? Around here, those slide shows are dying off, but they never went past the announced start time of the movie. Previews do, but those are more interesting.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923357)

A lot of us did, but then they starting randomizing the start time so you'd either see some ads or miss the start of the movie. But yeah, lately it does seem like they're starting to realize that they pissing off their customers a little too much.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918299)

I think the original submission was horribly written, in part because of what you state. My home theater is very nice compared to most home movie watching setups but compared to theaters local to me, it's not nearly as good.

Maybe I've been lucky, but the few times I do go to a movie, I have had a very good experience, no phones, no babies, no (or few, but quiet) weenies talking, no sticky floors, comfortable seats in stadium arrangement.

I don't think DVD sales began to stagnate because they cut through the backlog, because even the sales of very popular top-tiear first released movies began to stagnate. I think it more like maybe most people have enough DVDs, or that the economy downturned, that fewer people have the time to watch them, or that there are other compelling entertainment options competing for the same dollar. How about Netflix? Maybe people decided that watching once was good enough. Someone might say that the current crop of movies is bad, but I have a list of catalog movies that I want to see some time, having never seen them.

Re:Deteriorating? (1, Insightful)

ewg (158266) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918393)

The cinema experience isn't deteriorating; the Slashdot crowd is reaching the age where people get tired of it.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

espressojim (224775) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918891)

There are now about 30 - 60 minutes of commercials before the film? The sound is jacked up to 11 in many theaters (I've been bringing earplugs to theaters in the last year, to avoid losing my hearing in the rare case I want to go to a show.) There are a painful number of shitty previews. Cell phones now are common, and people refuse to get off of them during movies.

On top of all that, the cost of movies (and especially concessions) has skyrocketed. I think tickets are now 10-11 in my area for a prime time show, drinks are $5, and I don't want to think about the popcorn.

To contrast, getting your own sound and video set up at home for the big screen experience has dropped significantly in price the last few years as the market for projectors (and large screen direct view TVs) has grown. You can now get a home theater setup for a relatively low cost, and have DVDs delivered to your house.

The only place the theater is 'better' is that they are the first place to get the latest releases. I guess Vudu is trying to change that, and remove the last advantage the large theater has over the home theater.

Re:Deteriorating? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919039)

Have you ever noticed all the odd "dust" artifacts that appear when you watch a movie at the theatres? Even digital film has this problem. Then there's the every 11 minutes queue-up-the-next-reel-dot which is pretty annoying. And there's those "anti-piracy" dots that are specific to the theatre you're at that appear pretty randomly throughout the film in the fucking middle of the screen.

Sound quality is still pretty damn good, but video quality could definitely improve. I believe it's an issue with the theatre rather than the recording of the movie (some movies have that usually digitally-added film grain for effect, but that's not what I'm talking about), but it's been an issue at every theatre I've gone to. It's even a problem with their first viewing of the film, so maybe it has something to do with their equipment.

Anyhow, quality going down. And it costs like $5 for popcorn made of maybe 5 cents worth of corn.

So, pretty much like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18917957)

So, pretty much like Aufero [blogspot.com] . Seems like it's still only available to alpha-testers, though. There are older alternatives for users of MythTV as well, but this one seems to push the envelope and personally I think Windows Media Center does feel like it's ahead of the game compared to MythTV.

Now, whether this is intended for legal content or not... I guess that should be seen as an exercise to the reader to determine.

(posting anon to not whore with a link)

O RLY? (0, Flamebait)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18917979)

That could enables the movie studios to make movies securely available to viewers on the day of release
Bullshit! Ever tried getting a torrent of anything popular (S.T.A.L.K.E.R, C&C3, 300, etc.) the day it's released? Good luck with your HD movie with 1 seeder and 3000 leechers.

Oh and "securely"? Maybe for the first two days after the service is released.

Re:O RLY? (1)

mgv (198488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918079)

Bullshit! Ever tried getting a torrent of anything popular (S.T.A.L.K.E.R, C&C3, 300, etc.) the day it's released? Good luck with your HD movie with 1 seeder and 3000 leechers.


In my experience, you get quite a few seeders and it doesn't really matter if you are downloading from a seeder or a leecher.

The bigger issue relates to false torrents getting posted, with the idea of discouraging people who discover that the files they have downloaded are corrupted.

Michael

Re:O RLY? (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919551)

If you use things such as peer guardian to filter out not-so-genuine peers, the day-of-release seems to be a prime time to "aquire" such things. I'm not trying to advertise it, but I have to say if thats something you'd want to do peer guardian will most definitely help. I clearly only use peer guardian for downloading my Linux Distro ISO's and WoW Patches. >.>

Apple's a bad example. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918011)

And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.

Which is crap on both fronts. Peer-to-peer has hardly "consumed" the music business, last I heard they were still in business and making money. Unless he means that P2P has consumed an unreasonable amount of attorney's fees lately. I'd agree with that.

This guy is just trying to make this appear to be a proactive solution to a problem the movie houses really aren't experiencing yet, hoping that one or more of them will jump on the bandwagon.

The success of iTunes was also proving that the digital transition was inevitable and that one powerful player, Apple, could control the market if Hollywood did not find other viable partners.

No, the success of iTunes has, if anything, taught the movie industry that the very last thing it wants is content distribution run by a high-powered technology company with both the money and the balls to tell the studios "here's the deal - take it or leave it."

Both the music and the movie industries have long shown themselves to be anti-technology control freaks. Unless they can own this technology they'll never go for it, and if they did own it they'd lock it down so tightly that we would never go for it.

I can't argue that the DVD was a phenomenal success, but that was because the average user wasn't left feeling too restricted. The reason he felt that way was because he generally just played his movies on his living room TV, and never needed to rip his data to some other format. That's changing, not to the level that music reproduction has changed but it's happening, and when enough people can't legally or practically move their movies to other devices the same problems will arise.

HD Downloads (2, Interesting)

tryptych (1023927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918019)

I am already using a LAN based DVD player, http://www.neodigits.com/ [neodigits.com] so I can play DVDs as well as Divx etc downloads to my PC via P2P services, which it then upscales to my 1080p HD TV. The device is essentially a Linux-based dedicated PC, using a custom HTML/XML browser as a GUI. There are already quite a few products using this concept. I cannot see why the technology won't be available very soon to connect directly to a pay site. Admiteddly, one will need a pretty fast internet connection, but with a decent sized buffer, you should be able to stream HD movies directly.

It has already been pointed out that cinemas are on the decline, as we are forced to sit in pokey little multiplexes with peoples phones going off, talking through the movie and the cinema charging you a fortune not only to get in, but you need a credit card to buy a bar of chocolate. The video/DVD rental shops are also waning as the increase in P2P downloads and postal DVD rental diminishes the small shops. Even the likes of Blockbuster are starting to crumble.

What was once considered a pipe-dream to have a complete home entertainment and communications centre is rapidly appearing over the horizon.

Re:HD Downloads (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918827)

What was once considered a pipe-dream to have a complete home entertainment and communications centre is rapidly appearing over the horizon.

True, but the only thing standing in the way of that Utopian vision is the typical massively under-provisioned ISP who couldn't even begin to handle that level of data transfer. The only thing that could make such a thing possible would be the big boys (Baby Bells, Comcast, Verizon, etc.) setting up edge caching of some kind to keep popular downloads within their respective backbones. Of course, if they do that, believe me they'll want a piece of the action. In fact, they'll probably want to own content distribution on their own networks, with all the limits that will place on the end-user experience.

Personally, I don't see how any commercial service is going to be able to give users the depth and breadth of content available via peer-to-peer, illegal or otherwise. It's the same problem the music industry has: it's not that we aren't willing to pay for what we want (iTunes pretty well put paid to that particular smudge of RIAA FUD) it's that they are only willing to cater to mainstream tastes and there are millions of us that want the kind of things that aren't on the shelves at the local video store or Wal-Mart. P2P gives us that, and better yet, in forms that are versatile enough to be actually useful. I, for one, do not welcome our new DRM-laden overlords.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a broadband-competitive area (I can get various DSL providers plus Comcastoff, and there are other options as well) so none of them risk complaining too much about so-called bandwidth-hogs. Isn't competition wonderful? But I know people that live in places around here serviced only by a single provider, and the outlook for video streaming/downloading is much grimmer. Stick to your Web browsing, email, and Windows Update and they'll leave you alone, but just try anything bandwidth-intensive and you'll start getting letters.

Blockbuster is crumbling, I suppose, but I think that's more due to their management than anything else. Blockbuster has ... well, it has problems at the top. The rental business itself doesn't seem to be hurting, I mean, Netflix is still doing gangbusters, I understand. It may just be that there's only room for one or two big boys in that business, I don't know. It does seem like Netflix has sewn it up pretty tight for the moment, but that could change.

Re:HD Downloads (1)

tryptych (1023927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920663)

Well I live in UK, and there is a wide rangle of options now available either via phone or cable. As you say, competition is good, and I can see that the US fights for telephone lines in the 1960's will occur again as the battle for Internet comms hots up.

My personal bandwidth has increased from 1mbps to 10mbps in 18 months, and I foresee it won't be long before this doubles up again, so the concept of realisticly downloading streaming HD video is not as far off as one might imagine. The corporates will sniff at P2P, and I doubt that is the way it will go, but I see no reason why you won't be able to download unrestricted, non-DRM content just like iTunes eventually. The VHS tape is dead, and DVD's days are numbered. Blu-Ray burners will become the norm.

As for Blockbuster, they may well have corporate problems, but it was recently quoted that 40% of video rental shops in UK have closed in the last 2 years. The expansion of the Internet and broadband comms have had far more repercussions for all commerce, not just entertainment, than anyone could have percieved, and far exceed the Moore's law rules on hardware technology.

I think the next five years are going to prove to be a watershed in the way people work, live and relax.

"their entire backlog of movies"? Yeah Right... (3, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918035)

Just as an example of some items I am unable to buy on DVD here in australia but would like to own:
Snow White (the pre-WW2 Disney classic)
The Real Ghostbusters (the 80s cartoon)
Tales Of The Gun (History Channel documentary series)
Other History Channel documentaries
Space Above And Beyond
Hey Dad (classic Aussie sitcom)

Even if you account for the fact that some of them (like some of the History Channel stuff) may in fact be available if you are willing to import from America, there are still plenty of movies and TV episodes that you just plain can't get legally on DVD or from ANY download service anywhere in the world.

Re:"their entire backlog of movies"? Yeah Right... (3, Funny)

svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918439)

I've got modpoints, and I consider it a sign of my maturity that I don't smack you down for wanting to own "Hey, Dad!"

Fp 6o4t (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18918085)

EFNet semrvers.

Voodoo or Snake Oil? (3, Interesting)

tjl2015 (673427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918147)

This device sounds like a win for the MPAA/movie industry and a big loss for the consumer. Lets see how this device functions:

1. You have to buy an expensive box. Most services like this offer the device cheap or free. Satellite boxes, cable boxes, TIVOs, all are or can be free with service plans.

2. Peer-to-peer transfers. Sure, they say they are doing this to offer instantaneous availability of content, but it is just an excuse to shift the bandwidth cost to the end user. And, it doesn't just work exactly like BitTorrent. With BitTorrent, you are only uploading while the transfer takes place. This box uses every box as a source, all the time. If your box has a copy of a movie on it, it will upload it whenever someone else needs it. It doesn't sound like this service should be any more expensive than any other. If YouTube can afford to send me internet-quality video for the few pennies they get from my add revenues, Vudu can afford to send me DVD-quality video for the 10 bucks I'm paying them to buy their movie.

3. End-to-end DRM, vendor lock-in. This is why they're so popular with the studios. While freeing people from the "tyranny" of the computer, they simultaneously give up their best chance at circumventing draconian controls.

4. No DVD burner of any kind. This is the Achilles heel. They offer the option to "rent" or "purchase" downloads. For the 'rent' option, the file obviously deletes itself after a fixed amount of time. What about the movies I purchase? If it were on a computer I could make a backup copy on another hard drive or a DVD. With this, that option does not exist. The device's hard drive, however large, has a finite capacity. Once that fills up, whoops, what are you supposed to do? I guess you have to delete one of the movies you "bought." If they address this at all, they might let you re-download movies you delete. Regardless, it is at their discretion.

5. Bandwidth. Very few people have Ethernet jacks next to their television. For many people, this will leave wireless as their only option. With wireless, I would be skeptical of its ability to cope with the massive upload/download requirements. Even if it can cope, the necessity to either lay Ethernet cables down or configure a wireless network is completely antithetical towards the plug-and-play, instant gratification consumer they're targeting. They're trying to package a computer in a format your Luddite grandmother won't recognize as a computer, while simultaneously requiring her to configure a wireless network.

In summary, to use this system, I have to buy an expensive box, I have to pay for all the bandwidth, and I have absolutely no control over the files I download. This device is about one thing, control. Control of content and control of consumers.

As much as I would like to see no DRM, I will admit that Apple figured out how to do DRM right with iTunes. The basic principle they applied was, "we will make the new format no more restrictive than the old format." Like CDs, FairPlay lets you burn as many CD copies as you want of files. It also lets you back up your files to multiple computers. Vudu's box ties all of my purchases to the lifetime of a single piece of hardware, offering no backup solutions, total DRM, and a system that's designed to screw over the consumer at every single turn.

I hope this is not the way that the industry is going. I don't think the Vudu box will be a great success. However, they may still find enough people who want something that "just works" to find a market. Regardless, it will fall upon the usual legion, the modern fighters for freedom, the hackers and crackers to break the chains of DRM and vendor-lock in. It may be easier to crack something when it's on the computer, but being a stand-alone box hasn't saved the XBox, Playstations, and innumerable other devices from being opened in the same way.

Ultimately, the studios know this. They simply want the circumvention to be so difficult that 95% of users will not attempt it. If it's just a protected computer file on a hard drive, circumvention can be as simple as downloading a crack program. This type of cracking has broad potential, anyone can do it. However, if it's a stand-alone device, circumvention can be made much more complicated. If bypassing controls requires opening the device, purchasing a mod chip, and soldering pieces to the board, only a handful of people will attempt it. The studios want to be able to continually put out new releases of the same films, while denying you the ability to make copies to preserve what you have already legally purchased. Right now, I would not be comfortable placing money on the success or failure of this product, but I would bet every dollar that I own that BitTorrent downloads have a long future ahead of them.

THEY GOT ONE THING RIGHT! (1)

tjl2015 (673427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918285)



Whether they've realized it or not, Vudu has chosen the perfect name for their insidious little device. Let's compare the Vudu box with your average Voodoo witch doctor:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie [wikipedia.org]

1. A witch doctor surrounds himself with pseudo-mystical obfuscation and claims to raise the dead. The Vudu box surrounds itself with pseudo-mystical obfuscation and claims to do the technologically impossible.

2. A witch doctor puts his victim in a death-like-state using a variety of poisons and venoms, resulting in the victim being buried alive. The Vudu box nearly kills the user with its initial cost and then proceeds to isolate the user from rest of the internet and humanity, resulting in his peers considering him dead.

3. A witch doctor revives the victim into a state of perpetual slavery, forcing them to work in a trance-like state for the profit of the witch doctor. The Vudu box constricts the power of the user down to a minimal level, and forces the user to give his bandwidth and work for Vudu in an endless state of vendor-slavery.

/Also, the movie service will have lots of Night of the Living Dead Movies
//Brains, Brains, BRAAAIINNSS!

Re:Voodoo or Snake Oil? (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 7 years ago | (#18922353)

If YouTube can afford to send me internet-quality video for the few pennies they get from my add revenues, Vudu can afford to send me DVD-quality video for the 10 bucks I'm paying them to buy their movie.
You're ignoring some basic limitations. Say they have a million customers and they all want to watch a dvd-quality video. Assuming an average download capacity of 2 Mbs, that's 2 terabits a second you want Vudu to source. That's if they only sell a million copies of their machine. Steve Jobs was boasting about selling 100 million iPods. Sell a 100 million vudu and that 2 terabit stream just mushroomed to 200 terabits. Why should vudu shoulder that cost when the user's bandwidth isn't being used and the cost to the user is zilch?

If Vudu sources 1080p HD streams, it'll completely invert the hd-dvd/bluray fight.

Yeah well... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918335)

Does it run a proprietary DRMed Linux?

One major thing they overlook (2, Interesting)

doit3d (936293) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918359)

I feel that they are a bit myopic here. Nice that they are trying to innovate, but what if some family likes to watch several movies in a month. HD movies will not be small files by any means, and will be a natural progression of the service I'm sure even though the article does not specifically state that they will be offering HD content. What if you download/watch several movies which you legally paid for and then get your cable cut off by companies like Comcast for exceeding their "magical" and hidden data transfer limit.

Even if they offer regular DVD content (not HD) they will more than likely compress the files to the point to where it is degraded and is not the same quality of a DVD I can rent for $3 at the local rental store. Why would I pay more for less quality? If they do feed the actual DVD files (dual layer, not compressed like a file you might get from illegal p2p) that goes back to the problem of massive files being transfered over your internet connection and the risk of getting cut off.

This service will be dipping into the pay-per-view funds of some cable companies giving them even more incentive to drop you from their service. They want your money and will not let someone else take it from you easily. Unless the cable companies and/or ISP's get a slice of the pie, I do not see this happening. Greed kills innovation more often than poor planning from a technical standpoint.

studios ... plowed through ... entire backlog????? (1)

xjimhb (234034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918415)

> DVD sales began to stagnate because studios had finally plowed through their entire backlog
> of movies that could be released on the shiny discs?

Bull-f*ing-shit!!! There are hundreds -- thousands -- of movies out there that I simply cannot buy on DVD!!! Where can I buy a DVD of "Hamburger: the Motion Picture"? How about a copy of "Stewardess School"? These are a couple of the funniest movies ever made, and are in my personal top ten.

Want to talk about copyright reform? How about a provision that any commercial product (book, DVD, etc.) that is allowed to remain out-of-print for ten years (maybe even five) years be automatically dumped into the Public Domain. Sort of a "Use it or lose it" copyright.

I would prefer buy a legal copy of something I want, but somehow I would feel ZERO GUILT at downloading a P2P copy of something a studio is sitting on in their vaults and just REFUSES to sell me.

Re:studios ... plowed through ... entire backlog?? (0)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918687)

Hmm.
Hamburger: The Motion Picture [imdb.com] , Stewardess School [imdb.com] :
If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:

Bikini Drive-In [imdb.com] , H.O.T.S. [imdb.com] , L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return to Savage Beach [imdb.com]

Are you sure the movie companies aren't doing us all a favour by not releasing those 2 on DVD.??

On the other hand, you do have a point about copyright. The studios are more likely to provide a 'burn on demand' system though.

Re:studios ... plowed through ... entire backlog?? (1)

xjimhb (234034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919595)

Oh, yeah, I forgot about "H.O.T.S." which was pretty good (a couple of sequels to it came up kind of short, though). I never saw those other two you mentioned.

I wouldn't mind "burn on demand" for obscure movies with a niche market (which might well describe the ones mentioned), it is far better than "unavailable." But it has one drawback that regularly published titles don't ... no rental market, which means I can't get a look at "Bikini Drive-in" to decide if I want to buy it or not.

Here might be an actual legitimate application for DRM - a VERY CHEAP ($2-3) download that expired in a few days, and you can get the $2-3 applied as a credit on the price of the "burn-on-demand" copy of the same movie.

Hey, MPAA movie guys, listen up. Here's an idea that just might work. Go ahead, do it, I promise I won't sue you for using it! Really! I promise!

Re:studios ... plowed through ... entire backlog?? (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923095)

Here might be an actual legitimate application for DRM
The applications of DRM are not the problem (Hell, I even would support some of them). The problem is that it can never work, and attempts to force it to work are damaging other things.

Re:studios ... plowed through ... entire backlog?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18919993)

just because they're on imdb does not mean they were ever released on dvd.

missing the point (2, Interesting)

netean (549800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918435)

Movie studios are missing the point. DVD sales are slowing/stagnating not because their back catalogue has been released (it hasn't I'm sure) but by the overall PITA that is DVD viewing.
Find DVD on shelf amongsth the 1000s of others
Open box, fiddle with little plastic thingy that keeps disc secure
Insert DVD -> wait for drive to spin up ->
Wait for the DRM Copyright notice to go away (PITA) ->
Watch Disc manufacturers logo ->
(optionally sit through dozens of equally annoying, piss adverts or trailers that you can't skip)
Wait for piss poor "animated menus" to appear->
Press the button you want->
Watch equally pointless animated menu ->
Watch starting logo: Universal, fox, dreamworks etc. Yawn ->

Watch film, then put back in box and re-file.

Forget about the 2 or 3 other discs in the pack that give you tonnes of extras you'll never watch - forget about the DVD commentary (for all but you most treasured films) - Forget about the "great" interactive games included on the disc.

When will companies learn: people just want to watch the fucking film.

I'm in (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 7 years ago | (#18918477)

I'd buy one of these boxes, the moive thereters around here are kinda sketchy, I would love to have the guys over for a party, release screening of a summer blockbuster.

Copyability is a part of content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18919135)

When are they going to figure this out?

We don't mind paying for content. But the ability to freely copy that content is a long-standing, essential part of the whole content "experience," and enables all sorts of add-ons to our enjoyment.

Maybe for Movie X I need to make zero copies. But for Movie Y, I want a backup that I can play in my (car/other locations/whatever). And for Movie Z, I want to make 20 copies for my sewing group. And for Movie ZZ, I want to mix and mash pieces I copied with excerpts from Movie X. And on and on and on...

"Consumers" aren't this singular, pay-once-view-once entity that they're trying to make us be. They're continually building square pegs for round holes. For as long as there has been "content," much of the value of the content has derived from its copyability.

NONE of these products will succeed until the manufacturer "gets" it, and builds free copyability right into the machine.

Sort of like, ummm, the PC.

on second thought, this is good (2, Interesting)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919155)

My first reaction was: why should I provide free hosting for a commercial vendor of video? Let them pay for their own hosting and bandwidth.

But, come to think of it, if a service like this legitimizes large upstream bandwidth, we all win. One of the biggest threats to the Internet is still that upstream bandwidths become limited. So, from that point of view, I'm all for commercial P2P. I can still give its traffic low priority at the router.

Well, they've finally done it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18919545)

First they eliminated the need to manufacture and distribute an actual product, and instead distributed digital "copies" over the net - all the while charging the same amount... so you pay for the manufacturing and distribution costs even though the manufacturing cost is gone and the distribution cost almost gone.

Now they have completely eliminated the distribution cost... so are they going to pass the savings along? I doubt it.

Tell me - now that the "consumer" is literally doing the manufacture and distribution of the product, why the hell are we paying someone ELSE for the privilege?

Next you'll tell me I can't grow my own tomatoes from seeds from a grocery-store tomato. Oh wait, Monsanto is already saying that.

WHAT? (1)

Mark_in_Brazil (537925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18919647)

FTFS:

And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.
(Emphasis mine)
OK. I'll raise the BS flag.

Digital piracy did not consume the music business. Price gouging, crappy releases, treating customers like criminals, and failure to adapt to changing technologies harmed the music business. That is, just as with so many other businesses, the cause of problems in the music business was simple mismanagement.
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