New to VUDU: Week of October 16th, 2011

When I was writing up yesterday’s Blu-ray update post, I failed to highlight a few titles that may not have struck me as purchase material, but certainly seem like good rental fodder. Fortunately, VUDU also offers them for high-quality streaming.

The following titles enter the VUDU stream this week:

  • ‘The Anniversary at Shallow Creek’ (10/18)
  • ‘A Better Life’ (10/18)
  • ‘Baaria’ (10/18)
  • ‘Batman: Year One’ (10/18)
  • ‘Bread Crumbs’ (10/18)
  • ‘Cape Fear’ (10/18)
  • ‘Chick Magnet’ (10/18)
  • ‘Dawning’ (10/18)
  • ‘Evidence of a Haunting’ (10/18)
  • ‘Hellraiser: Revelations’ (10/18)
  • ‘The Howling: Reborn’ ()
  • ‘Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt’ (10/18)
  • ‘The Last Circus’ (10/18)
  • ‘Margin Call’ (10/21)
  • ‘Monte Carlo’ (10/18)
  • ‘The Names of Love’ (10/18)
  • ‘Occupant’ (10/18)
  • ‘Page One: Inside the New York Times’ (10/18)
  • ‘The Reunion’ (10/21)
  • ‘The Robber’ (10/18)
  • ‘The Trap Door’ (10/18)

While I’ve heard mixed things about the Spanish cult film ‘The Last Circus‘, its trailer sure is fabulously weird and visually striking. Seriously, look at this:

I don’t think I’d risk a Blu-ray purchase, but a streaming rental might fill the bill nicely.

After the failure of ‘The Golden Compass‘ and a bad experience making ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon‘, director Chris Weitz swore that his next film (then titled ‘The Gardener’) would be his last. Weitz eventually backed off those claims, even though the immigrant drama (released under the new title ‘A Better Life‘) received some middling reviews and failed at the box office. The trailer looks pretty mawkish, and I didn’t care much for ‘The Golden Compass’ (and can’t bring myself to watch that ‘Twilight’ mess), but I’m still inclined to give the director of ‘About a Boy’ the benefit of the doubt… for a rental, at least.

Fans of DC Animation will want to take note of the latest DTV epic, ‘Batman: Year One‘. Meanwhile, fans of crappy horror movies might enjoy laughing at the latest shitfest sequels in the ‘Hellraiser‘ and ‘Howling‘ franchises.

Starting today, VUDU also offers ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides‘ for purchase in either 2D or 3D formats, both with 7.1 audio (a first for any streaming service). However, the movie will not be available for rental until November 15th.

All dates provided refer specifically to rental availability. Check VUDU for sell-through availability, if interested. Be sure to also check for VUDU’s $0.99 Movie of the Day offers, which are announced each day on the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


    • Drew

      I think the same thing every time Josh puts up another one of these Vudu posts. I’ve never been happy with streaming. Both the video and audio quality are shit, when compared to the A/V quality of blu-ray.

      I’ve even tried Vudu’s HD options, and as good as Vudu is in comparison to other streaming services, the quality still leaves a lot to be desired.

      On top of that, you have to deal with buffering issues and other problems that you would never have to deal with when watching a blu-ray, no matter how good/fast your internet service is. I know that for a fact, because my service is as fast as you can possibly get anywhere.

      Netflixing blu-rays is just a better option all around.

      • Josh Zyber

        VUDU’s “HD” files are 720p and, admittedly, about the same quality as Netflix. The “HDX” files are 1080p and much closer to Blu-ray. It’s still not entirely Blu-ray quality, but about 85-90% there, depending on the title.

        I have never had a buffering issue with VUDU. I think that’s possibly an internet provider issue or an IP/Proxy setting issue.

        • I agree – Vudu is dramatically better than Netflix (especially the HDX stuff), and I have never had buffering issues. If you are getting them, then you either need a faster internet connection, or to call your ISP and have them do line tests. Of course, I would say the same if you are getting buffering issues with Netflix or Hulu.

          Keep in mind that the bitrate of Netflix is higher than Hulu (I think its 4.5Mbps compared to 2Mbps, but could be wrong), and Vudu is even higher. I was reading on the support forums that their HD movies are about 4 gig for a 2 hour 720p movie and about 8 gig for a 2 hour 1080p movie. So, yeah, not Blu-Ray quality, but should be better than a lot of cable and satelite providers offer. And then do the math as to how long it takes you to download 8 gig. It takes me roughly 20 minutes to pull 8 gig, so I can start watching my movie on Vudu usually within a few seconds of starting the download without any buffering issues.

          Be sure, if you are a heavy Vudu user, to make sure your ISP doesn’t cap your transfers.

          • BTW, that means that Vudu has a bitrate of roughly 9Mbps, but its variable. So if you have an internet connection of less than 10Mbps, yeah, you are going to get buffering issues. In fact, I would recommend at least 15 Mbps, because actual internet speeds are usually not what the ISPs actually advertise.

          • Drew

            Why are you arguing that Vudu’s streaming quality is better than that of Netflix? Nobody was ever talking about Netflix streaming. Jane and I were saying that if Josh watches a lot of movies, renting blu-rays from Netflix would be a more prudent option. When you talk about which streaming service is superior, the point is moot. We all agree that Vudu’s streaming service is better, but even the HDX titles are still vastly inferior to blu-ray quality. Josh said that they are 85-90% the quality of blu-ray. I would say that the figure is closer to 75%. Especially when you consider the lack of lossless audio.

          • Drew

            My speed is over 40mbps, so I know that has nothing to do with it. My buffering issues more likely have something to do with the fact that I stream wirelessly. However, in my setup, there’s just no feasible way to connect with an ethernet cable.

            Either way, streaming will simply never deliver the quality of a physical blu-ray. I doubt that we will ever see losless audio streaming, and the video will never come closer than 90%. I’m really surprised that someone like Josh would find streaming quality acceptable. Even if the HDX service is 80% of blu-ray quality, that means it is still lacking quite a bit when compared to the quality he could get by renting blu-rays from Netflix.

          • Josh Zyber

            VUDU is sufficient for my rental needs. I can make do without lossless audio on a rental. Netflix streaming falls too far below my quality standards for both video and audio.

            If I want to own a movie, I’ll go with Blu-ray every time. But the inconvenience of renting a physical disc is more hassle than I want to deal with. Your mileage may vary.

            Also, VUDU has a large catalog of HDX titles that are not available on Blu-ray at all.

            If you’re connected wirelessly, that is very likely the cause of your buffering issues. I sympathize with your inability use a wired connection. I was fortunately able to arrange my hardware rack near my router, but I know that not everyone has that option. I can see why renting Blu-ray discs from Netflix would be a better option for you.

        • Drew

          The HDX titles might be 75-80% there. Don’t overestimate them. Regardless, I’ve always assumed that you are more of a videophile/audiophile and that the absolute best possible video and audio quality would be more important to you. Renting blu-rays from Netflix is just a better option all around for those people that watch a lot of movies.

          • Jane Morgan

            I watched ‘Transformers 3’ in HDX the day it came out.

            The video quality was better than 90% of the blu-rays I’ve netflixed.

            But it still looked like a significant drop in quality from the T3 blu-ray.

            Vudu is competitive because so many blu-rays have 3-Star transfers.

            I can understand why HDX is ideal for Josh’s rental needs.

            He’s purchasing convenience.

          • Drew

            Yes, we can agree on that. I see now why HDX is ideal for Josh’s rental needs. Waiting for physical media, and having to deal with sending it back just isn’t worth it in his circumstances.

            I’ve also watched ‘Dark of the Moon’ in HDX. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the video quality was better than 90% of most blu-rays. But it was quite good, nonetheless.

            The HDX stream of ‘DOTM’ didn’t hold a candle to the blu-ray for either video quality, and especially audio quality. I’d estimate the video quality was about 65-75% of the blu-ray, and the audio quality was even less than that.

          • Jane Morgan

            Keep in mind, Josh’s screen size is very small.

            And you know what they say. The smaller the screen size, the smaller the difference between HDX and Blu-ray, in terms of fine detail/flaws.

            Add in personal imperfections of hearing and eyesight…

            65% visual quality, for you, might be the same as 90%, for him.

            Perhaps, in your entertainment receptiveness, you are genetically superior.

          • Jane Morgan

            Screen width, in inches, divided by 12, is your home theater cock size.

            4 = embarrassing

            6 = small, but workable

            8 = impressive

            10 = holy sweetness

            12+ = mother of fuck

          • Josh Zyber

            And your own screen would be what size, Jane?

            Although there are certainly owners out there who project onto huge screens, I have yet to see a home theater projector capable of projecting an image that I would consider watchable at larger than 8-feet wide. HT projectors are simply not bright enough to sustain an image more than that. You can install a really high gain screen to try to eke some additional brightness out of the image, but only at the cost of distracting sparklie artifacts and hot-spotting. These are not compromises I am willing to make.

            If we’re measuring cock size by screen size, a 12-foot screen may sound like a big cock, but it’s also a limp one.

          • Drew

            My entertainment receptiveness has been known to be quite irritating to some “regular” humans. 😉

          • Jane Morgan

            My display is a 50″ Plasma, but girls are judged by a different standard. Size 4 is Cute.

            I’m sure your screen is perfect for your D-ILA / room layout / lifestyle.

            I’ve been looking into projectors for years. But I’m waiting for wireless hdmi.

            P.S. Panasonic’s 152″ 3D 4K Plasma is not a limp cock.

          • Drew

            I wouldn’t say that a 6′ wide screen is “very small”, but it’s definitely not something that would be considered “above average.” It’s probably slightly below average in terms of HT screens.

            That’s not a bad thing. A lot of HT screens are far too large, and lead to a disappointing image, due to many of the things that Josh discusses here.

            When it comes to HT screens, size matters. And most of the time, the smaller, the better. (To a certain point of course 😉 )

          • Jane Morgan

            In fact, it’s hard to find a projector screen smaller than Josh’s.

            And it’s not like he sprung for a Stewart FilmScreen Firehawk G3.

            So calling him a videophile is a bit of a stretch.

          • Drew

            You’re absolutely right. Mine is 8′ wide, and I actually wish it were a little bit smaller, just so that I could achieve a bit better contrast and brightness.

            “And it’s not like he sprung for a Stewart FilmScreen Firehawk G3.”

            “So calling him a videophile is a bit of a stretch.”

            Well, okay, I guess I should say that he’s a wannabe videophile. I guess I’ve just always had the impression that he should be more of a videophile. You can’t deny the man’s knowledge of all things related to the utmost video quality.

          • Josh Zyber

            Jane, how about you wait until you have experience actually using some of the things you talk about before disparaging my videophile credentials. In the meantime, let’s put a pin in that, ‘kay?

            Screens 10-feet or wider bring so many visual tradeoffs, that frankly I think most people who use THOSE shouldn’t be considered videophiles. That’s the video equivalent of turning your amp up to “11.” It may be louder, but it’s certainly not better. The distortion you add undermines the impressiveness of the loudness.

            And need I really point out that my screen is larger that yours?

            At my seating distance, 6-feet is a sweet spot. If I were in a larger room with a further seating distance, I would go to 8-feet. I would not go beyond that until home theater projectors are capable of significantly more brightness than they currently are.

            I’ve tested a Firehawk and I did not feel that it was appropriate for my needs.

          • Drew

            I think that Jane is being more humorous than you give her credit for. She’s just busting your balls. You have to admit that you’re the type of person that makes doing that entertaining.

            With that said, I do have to admit that I’ve always been surprised by the screen that you use. Not by the size of it, but by the quality of it. I can’t remember the exact specs of it right now, but you’ve alluded to them a few different times in a few different posts/HD advisor columns, and the screen is definitely not something a discerning videophile would use.

            Maybe your use of that particular screen is more for practicality than anything. Perhaps you watch a lot of television on your projector, or your viewing is not always in a completely darkened environment. I don’t know. I’m just throwing ideas out there, but I just remember always thinking that someone like you would use a completely different, and much higher quality HT screen.

          • Josh Zyber

            I use a simple, straightforward matte white screen, no gain. I prefer to see what the projector is outputting, rather than let a screen color (no pun intended) the video image with its own properties. Most of the fancier, more expensive screen materials I’ve tested have brought with them a share of tradeoffs (hot-spotting, sparklies, color shift, poor viewing cone, etc.) that I didn’t care for.

            Perhaps I just haven’t found the right screen material yet. I’m not opposed to more testing. But in the meantime, I kind of think of them the same way I would the “Vivid” picture preset in a TV or “Church Hall” DSP mode in a receiver.

          • Josh Zyber

            The Vizio is not and has never been a reference display in my room. It’s simply a TV that I have off to the side for when i don’t feel like firing up my projector.

          • You can go larger than 8 feet, but if you want the image quality, you need to stop thinking about $5k projectors and start thinking about $30k projectors and up. I’ve seen them demoed at my local high-end electronics store. They had a 10 foot screen in there, and a $30k projector, and it was plenty bright. What sucked was that they were using a gray-screen, and were showing ESPNHD on it. It just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until they popped in a B&W movie that it looked good.

            Of course, the guy then tried to show me Star Wars on DVD (this was like 3 months ago). I was like, um, seriously?

            I am sure one day I will make the plunge into a screen, but at the moment, I haven’t really been happy with what I have seen. White screens tend to have those Hot-spots that Josh was talking about, and gray-screens, while they help with the hot-spot issue, then tend to affect color reproduction.

            Pretty much, it seems that every display type on the market right now has some type of drawback and then several advantages over its rivals. So the question is, what do you really want, and what are you willing to trade off for it?

          • Jane Morgan

            I started shopping for projectors when the Sony Ruby came out.

            I almost jumped in when avsforum went nuts for Da-Lite High Power.

            And now I’m waiting for 4K and wireless hdmi.

            My #1 problem, in our current condo, is room layout.

            I’m seriously considering buying a bigger house, just for a home theater.

    • Josh Zyber

      I do not find Netflix quality acceptable.

      VUDU’s video quality is decidedly better than Netflix, and the majority of titles in the catalog have 5.1 audio (unlike Netflix, which only has a handful of 5.1 soundtracks, which can only be accessed from specific devices).

      • Drew

        You’re arguing a moot point. Jane and I were never talking about Netflix streaming vs. Vudu streaming. We were talking about actually renting physical blu-ray’s from Netflix. No matter how good you think the streaming quality of Vudu’s HDX is, neither the audio or video quality compare to blu-ray at all.

    • Josh Zyber

      Jane, reading your comment again, I see that you were asking specifically about using Netflix to rent Blu-ray physical discs. That always seemed fruitless to me since I have a large stack of unwatched discs sitting here already. Also, there’s the annoyance of having to wait for the disc to become available, wait for it to be mailed to me, and then mailing it back. VUDU hits a nice sweet-spot for me, where titles (many not available on Blu-ray) can be instantly streamed on a whim and are close to Blu-ray quality.

  1. Netflix is fine for me because I’m paying $8 for a good selection of catalog titles with some newer DTV stuff added and lots of TV shows to watch, its great for that and I dont expect amazing quality for that little of a fee per month.

    I used my free credit on Vudu the other day to rent a movie in HDX format, looked and sounded awesome, I really couldnt tell the difference between that and Bluray on my 1080p Plasma, was really impressed, buffering was non existent, played that whole movie perfect with not one hiccup, if you are having issues with that its definitely your ISP or Network setup

  2. there is a huge difference to Netflix and vudu. vudu is pay per view. Netflix is more like starz encore HBO. when i order a movie on demand it is in better quality in terms of picture and sound then when it hits HBO the PQ is a notch below. now i have tried both amazon on demand and blockbuster and the PQ was fantastic and zero buffering.

    • Really? I find both Amazon and Blockbuster to be inferior to Netflix. However, the things I have watched on Amazon were mostly older TV shows, and I had some interlacing issues with Amazon and Blockbuster that I don’t have on Netflix. Maybe when I watch some HD stuff or some movies, I may change my mind.

      However, I am canceling my Netflix in a few days anyways. No use paying for something when Amazon and Dish give it to me free with other services I am already paying for.