Friday, September 04, 2009

Mitsubishi HDTVs Will Have VUDU Service Built In

The number of HDTV sets with an Internet-based movie service increased Thursday with Mitsubishi's announcement that two of its new TVs will feature the VUDU service. The announcement follows a series of similar moves from other TV manufacturers and online video services.

The models are the Unisen Diamond LT-46249 and LT-52249, both 1080p flat-panel HDTVs with a 16-speaker sound system and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound. Both come with an Ethernet port for high-speed Internet. Beach Destinations

Two Months Included

The VUDU service is part of the circuitry and software, and Mitsubishi is including a two-month subscription to the service. VUDU has more than 2,200 HD movies in a library of about 16,000 titles, and will also offer access to YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Pandora and more than 80 channels of on-demand TV.

Mitsubishi's announcement comes as VUDU has been redefining itself, with a strategic announcement in July focusing on its second-generation platform that is "optimized for Internet-capable smart TVs."

The first participating consumer electronics company was LG, which embedded the VUDU BX100 set-top box into its Netcast models. The platform includes instant fast forward and rewind, instant start, and a redefined user interface.

The emphasis on platform is redirecting VUDU's efforts toward offering its embedded service through consumer devices, rather than its stand-alone set-top boxes, to get the company back on a solid path. In January, the company laid off 15 percent of its staff on top of a 15 percent reduction last fall.

In May, VUDU said its BX100 functionality would be added to Entone set-top boxes and VCRs via a software upgrade. The Entone box is used by smaller video providers, such as regional phone companies.

Netflix has also announced that its online service will be added to TVs from such manufacturers as Sony, and Samsung has a similar deal with Blockbuster.

iPod Superstore w/ Engraving

'Isn't Surprising'

Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at research firm NPD, said the Mitsubishi-VUDU deal "isn't surprising," since Mitsubishi was already bundling a VUDU set-top box with its TVs. TV manufacturers, he said, are looking to have "a range of connected video services," and both TV makers and VUDU are looking to differentiate themselves.

Forrester's James McQuivey said the difference between Netflix, "arguably the most successful online video service in operation today," and VUDU is that "Netflix content is not as complete as what VUDU offers."

"If you want to watch the latest movies, you can't do that on Netflix, but you can on VUDU, in streamed HD," he said. In that sense, he noted, "they're not competitive with each other, which is why the ideal television will offer both services, as LG's TVs do."

McQuivey added that he expects there will be some kind of on-demand video service through all Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, "whether it's VUDU, Blockbuster or Amazon."

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