Tags Posts tagged with "Vudu"

Vudu

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When Vudu started offering the program called Movies on Us we didn’t know what to expect. Being that Walmart owns Vudu I half expected the selection to mirror the old Walmart dollar bins of dvds. It turns out that Vudu is not pulling any punches with the offering. That while Vudu is not offering the most recent titles up for free the selection of add supported movies is very strong indeed and broken down into multiple genres. Now, are there some absolute tomatoes in the group. Yes. There is no doubt about that. But what you have to do when looking into any free movie selection in taking into account what else is available anywhere else legally for free. 

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Ryan Michael Downey

Vudu, the Wal-Mart owned on-demand digital-media service will soon be available to Chromecast users. The company released the news Vudu Picthrough its website Sunday. Vudu offers users the ability to purchase top television shows the day after they air, the ability to rent or buy movies digitally as well as access to older titles. The announcement, which can be read here, does not give a launch date for the service. Vudu will become the become the first new app to compete against Google’s in house service Google Play, a move that differs much from Apple who’s Apple TV only allows its iTunes store as an option for digital purchases, much to the chagrin of Amazon Prime Video fans.

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Ryan Michael Downey Roku‘s new firmware is available for manual download via its settings menu. the update unlocks many new features. From new looks for familiar apps to freshly integrated features  like M-Go on demand services and Roku’s news service, the update gives Roku a new shine heading in to the holiday season. New Universal Search Features The universal search now includes results from M-Go along with all of the other choices in the select group of video apps linked to the search feature. In fact the universal search feature is the only way to look for specific titles  in M-Go, which has no native search feature,

The M-Go on demand movie and TV service is now available.
The M-Go on demand movie and TV service is now available.

more on this later. Also included in the search results are Netflix, Block Buster on Demand, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Vudu, Crackle, Red Box Instant and HBO Go.  This means that despite Roku including M-Go in its main menu it is not attempting to stifle competition from other on demand apps when searching for individual titles or actors. The look of the interface gets a slightly different feel also but still remains a helpful way to find selections across a wide spectrum of the set-top box’s featured apps. Netflix Changes The visually stunning new Netflix interface brings it in line with Netflix’s cross-platform upgrade meant to give the service a uniform look across all of the devices that offer the industry-leading streaming app. Roku users will now be able to select personalized profiles before launching the app, which means no more cartoons and children’s movies taking up real-estate in mom or dad’s queue. While this feature had been available on other platforms already this marks its

The new Netlfix interface uses more of the screen to  to highlight  it features.
The new Netlfix interface uses more of the screen to to highlight it features.

debut on Roku. The personal profiles are not the only new experience. When navigating Netflix’s menus  any given selection launches a loop of pictures from the film or TV show to give viewers a sneak peek at the visual style of the feature,  like the feature art on the back of a DVD or Blu-ray disk. A description for the given selection is prominently displayed in the upper left hand corner of the screen which also includes ratings, video playback quality and length (for movies).  The app even lets users behind the curtain to know why a given selection was recommended.  Last but not least video selections load more quickly. No more similar to Feature One major omission from the functionality front is that users can no longer view selections that are similar to a given movie or TV show with the push of a button. Under the original format pressing the asterisk on the remote previously brought up a menu of selections either related thematically to the current selection or other selections featuring the stars of movie or TV show. This would link a tittle such as Batman Beyond with the Avengers because they are both comic book movies or Thor to Charlie Bartlett because Cat Denning appears in both features. It was a helpful discovery tool that will be missed by those who utilized it. Unchanged Features Not everything about the Netflix experience has changed. If you had a “My List” it will still be available as will all of the specially created niche categories based on personalized ratings and preferences. Everything from because you watched “given title” and the specifically tailored selections “Zombie Based Dark Comedies” are alive  and well. M-Go On Demand TV Shows and Movies While Roku has for years featured many ways to access newly released movies and next day viewing of television shows it has up until now given all of the platforms equal treatment. Users have had the option to add Amazon, Vudu and most recently Target Ticket at their leisure or leave them out of the equation completely. That has changed with the new firmware. Just under the “My Channels” heading in Roku’s main menu is a heading for “Movies” and a heading for “TV Shows”. Both of these selections will shuttle users to M-Go, Roku’s official partner in on demand viewing. The feature is similar to Apple TV’s integration with the iTunes store. M-Go though is not owned and operated by Roku. Because it is partnered with Roku an M-Go account can be created with the push of a button using the email registered to the your Roku account as well as the credit card used to register the device. This saves users the trouble of having to go to a website and enter all of their information before diving in to the selections. Using M-Go TV: The TV selections are broken down by Top 50 TV, New Releases, TV Deals (which is a selection of bargain prices on lots of popular content) and of course “All” which will populate all available titles. There are also separate sections for purchased content and a watch list for those who want a reminder to purchase the latest episodes of their favorites. Television shows can be purchased by the episode or by the season. Movies: Movies are set up in a similar fashion to the television section. They are broken down in to genre categories along with the “My Movie Watch List” and “My Movie Library” for purchased digital content where purchased movies will stay readily available. Not unlike Vudu and other services M-Go also includes sub sections such as “Marvel Super Heroes”. Try For Free As an added bonus M-Go will give new users two free movie selections from its catalogue Lack of Discovery Engine One drawback of the M-Go service is that it does not have a service specific search. Unlike Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and others who have a search feature embedded in to their apps, users looking for specific content on M-Go must use the Roku’s universal search. This means that M-Go titles will be populated side by side with selections from other services. Also despite its genre categorizes  selections are also not organized in any way. When searching for TV shows there is no separation based on Network affiliation nor are the selections listed in alphabetical order. This is a curious omission that almost emulates the days of the discount DVD box at a big box store. When accessing media on a device that is built on the idea of customization of media it is off-putting to search for a movie or television show in that fashion. Roku’s New News Section Roku has partnered with AOL to bring an integrated video news service on to the device. The News heading is listed under TV shows and features short video segments from categories across the spectrum. The categories include News, Entertainment, Technology, Business, Health, Travel and Weird News. The service is easy to navigate and will help users quickly catch up on the headlines of the day with a few clicks. The segments load fast in full HD and will continue from story to story until the user stops. With a selection of models starting as low as $50.00 before various holiday mark downs Roku’s continued firmware improvements and apps may well make it a big winner this Christmas.

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Ryan Downey

The Neo TV 200 (NTV200) by Netgear is a moderately priced set top box that offers solid features for new adopters of streaming media technology. Despite the name there have not been 199 previous models of this device. Netgear chose triple digit classification for a number of its products. The item is not a bad choice for those with a limited budget and little interest in a robust app selection or ecosystem.  While retailing for as much as $70.00 on Amazon  the model has been on sale for as little as $30.00 at Radio Shack. The like any product the device has strong points and weaknesses.

Apps
The NTV200 does not feature and app store but comes packed with many popular web based apps.  To many streaming fans streaming begins and ends with Netflix. Neo TV features Netflix as well as Hulu Plus for next day viewing of many popular TV shows and VUDU and Cinema Now for current video releases as well as on demand viewing of many TV shows including Game of Thrones. Also included are YouTube and popular Internet music app Pandora. There appears to be a glitch when exiting a majority of the apps. When exiting many channels you must press home instead of the return button. This was odd because its top shelf apps, Netflix and Hulu Plus did not operate in that manner.

Remote
The remote for the NTV200 is comfortable in the hand. It features quick launch buttons for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Cinema Now VUDU, Pandora and YouTube. On a negative note its main directional buttons are rubbery and feel worn after regular use. They can be a bit unresponsive when pressed in quick succession. There is also a remote app for smart phones. In the absence of a smartphone we tested it using an iPad and the iPhone app. Once downloaded the app discovered the device on the shared network. Its key feature is the option to use a keyboard, which is a real plus. There are also options for both gesture (swipe) controls and normal button based featuring up, down etc. The keyboard is abundantly helpful when searching through content menus in the various video apps.

App Performance
To get a baseline for the abilities of the device the NTV200 evaluated using the most popular of its offered video apps. Those apps were Netflix, Hulu Plus and VUDU. 

Netflix
When Netflix is booted the program loads a bit slowly. Its menu resembles a Blu-ray player Interface. There is a little too much real-estate taken up on the right panel with a description, It feels like the icons are zoomed in. Search feature is adequate but jumpy. Users are first led to a search box screen. After the search populates the titles can be searched. A right direction button click populates a new right panel provides info on the specific title. Another right click will opens the launch menu for the feature. This feature is a bit clumsy or at least can feel that way if somebody is hurriedly making way through the menus. On the plus side Netflix on the NTV200 has option for super HD streaming. Selecting a title opens the option to add movies or shows to “My List” browse more episodes (for series) rate as well as select subtitles. Video loads moderately quickly and clearly after about 10 seconds or so.

Hulu Plus
Each commercial segment loads separately which feels a little stop and go. Video quality is strong and crisp once you get past the feature commercials. There is no trouble syncing audio and Video. The app features an easy to search interface with menus laid out in an intuitive way allowing search for TV shows by title and network, movies by Title and studio. The app also provides access to user queues.

Vudu Apps
An undervalued and under reported feature of the NTV200 is Vudu Apps. Vudu Apps is a collection podcasts featuring an array of headings such as News, Arts &Entertainment, Internet, Gaming, Science, Music and Travel. Many of the apps feature full length video podcasts of popular newscasts as well as tech, entertainment and political news. There currently 32 such choices.

VUDU-VUDU is an on demand video service featuring digital access to current video releases and trailers in full HD. It features many movie and television shows in a flashy and easy to search format. Those who have chosen to drop cable can purchase their favorite shows al-a-carte so that they do not lose touch with the top serialized dramas like the Walking Dead or Falling Skies.

Hardware Problems
The device has a tendency to overheat when set flat on a surface (the way one would normally use a set top device) and used for more than a few hours. Because of this problem the device works best sitting on its side instead.

App Count
There are 93 apps currently available for the NTV200

TV

19 apps highlighted by Netflix, Hulu Plus and VUDU for on demand movies. Most content can be found between those three sources

News and Education
22 apps featuring the White house webcasts, Ted Talks PBS, CNN Fox news and others

Web TV
15 apps including YouTube, College Humor and Funny or Die  

Music and Photos
9 apps including Pandora and TuneIn Radio for music and Flickr and Picasa for pictures.

Lifestyle
27 apps featuring a hodgepodge of apps covering everything from tech news and extreme sports to clips from the Lifetime Channel. Netgear might have done well to break this category down a little more.

Games
10 casual apps No Angry Birds L.