It’s been well over a year since Walmart purchased movie streaming giant VUDU, and until now, the corporate take-over was hardly noticeable. Nothing on VUDU's site mentioned Walmart, and nothing on Walmart’s mentioned VUDU. But as of this past week, Walmart has started using the VUDU system to allow their customers — your regular everyday Walmart shoppers — to rent or buy movie downloads directly from Walmart.com. Just as easily as you might go online and order a bag of kitty litter, you can click away and start watching a movie, sometimes the very same day it’s been released on DVD. Take that, Netflix. No subscriptions necessary.
Now, most of our loyal readers have already been clued in on just how cool it is to download a movie right to your computer or Internet-connected device. But, sadly, most Americans have no idea how easy and convenient it is to do. Right now, I’m in a hotel in the middle of southern Utah - the nearest movie theater is over 3 hours away, and the local cable offerings are pretty lacking. But, I can download True Grit or Arthur right here, right now. Nice. Now the rest of America can take advantage of that same convenience.
The Walmart interface is simple to use. Customers browsing online can select a streaming option as easily as they can add a Blu-ray or DVD to their online shopping cart. The prices range from $0.99 to $5.99 for 24-hour rentals, or $4.99 to $24.99 for purchases, in up to 1080p. There is one small catch, though. Due to studio restrictions, standard def is the only option if you’re downloading to a computer. For higher-def viewing, you have to be connected to an Internet-connected TV, Blu-ray player, or PlayStation 3. Bummer. However, given the choices here in Utah, I’m starting a download . . . now!
Leslie Shapiro has been an audio engineer for 25 years, with experience in television, film, and the music industry. She is also a member of NARAS, which gives her the coveted privilege of voting for the Grammy Awards.
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