Microsoft and Sony are in the midst of a video feature war on their respective game consoles. The Xbox 360 was first to get Netflix streaming. The Playstation 3 followed, and now includes access to Hulu Plus as well. Sony got into live sports with baseball and hockey. Microsoft tacked on ESPN3. The Xbox 360 got streaming video on demand from the Zune Marketplace, and now, Vudu is doing the same for the PS3.
On November 23, Vudu will be available as a free app from the Playstation Network. The service has over 4,000 HD movies for rent or purchase, streamed instantly, including its own HDX format for 1080p video. The PS3 app will support Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, and owners of the Playstation Move motion controller can use it as a pointer for Vudu’s interface. Rentals on Vudu cost between $1 (for some standard-def movies) and $6, and purchases cost $5 to $25.
Vudu started out as a hardware company, whose set-top boxes were a vessel for its movie delivery service. After ditching the hardware and getting gobbled up by Wal-Mart, Vudu focused on getting onto other manufacturers’ set-top boxes and HDTVs. The company’s last big move was a partnership with Boxee, including an app on the desktop software and D-Link’s Boxee Box.
Sony will still offer its own video service, which requires you to download each movie to the PS3′s hard drive. Because Vudu deals only in movies, Sony’s store will still be necessary for television episodes, and it might also make more sense for purchases — unless you own multiple Vudu-enabled devices.
Still, Sony is bound to lose some customers from its own store who switch to Vudu. Consider it a testament to the appeal of streaming video over downloads, and the need for Sony to stay competitive as the console wars become as much about video as video games.
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