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Vudu Set-Top Box Weds Legal P2P and HD Movies 121

Posted by Zonk
from the smells-like-money dept.
prostoalex writes "The New York Times is running a story on a Silicon Valley company that is planning to revolutionize the movie business. It's no secret that the movie-going experience has been deteriorating, while the number of HDTVs sold has been rising steadily. A company called Vudu, run by a guy who started TiVo, is now building a box for peer-to-peer download of movies straight from the studios. That could enables the movie studios to make movies securely available to viewers on the day of release, and improves on the download experience offered by other shops, like Amazon Unbox, MovieLink and others: 'DVD sales began to stagnate because studios had finally plowed through their entire backlog of movies that could be released on the shiny discs. The success of iTunes was also proving that the digital transition was inevitable and that one powerful player, Apple, could control the market if Hollywood did not find other viable partners. And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.'"
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Vudu Set-Top Box Weds Legal P2P and HD Movies

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  • Can somebody tell me how long will it take to hack into this box and reuse the code in some PC apps?
    I don't think film studios are going to be particularly happy and enthusiastic about it. Plus of course it will need to use DRM. Which one? Most of them are already broken, or will be in not-so-long time. And royalties will need to go to someone.

    As always, idea is brilliant, but there's a chance that MPIA will block it before it actually starts. They're just too scared of any new technologies...

    Just my 2c.
  • Bad copy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baricom (763970) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:26AM (#18917711)
    Vudu seems to be a copy of Apple TV. It has a similar-sized box with a similar aesthetic, and an equally sparse remote. What it adds over the Apple TV seems to be direct download without a computer, and a composite video out. There's also no mention of podcast support, which is the real innovation from the Apple TV, in my mind.

    Am I missing something? Is this really revolutionary? (Not that the Apple TV is either, but it's probably the best-known set-top box with podcast support.)
    • by Baricom (763970)
      Oh, and the peer-to-peer dimension of this box is merely a marketing and implementation detail--people equate "P2P" with "free," but the average movie lover could care less that the Vudu does P2P, unless their broadband is metered and they get a nasty surprise at the end of the month.
    • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <{elmuerte} {at} {drunksnipers.com}> on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:50AM (#18917803) Homepage
      It's revolutionary because this time the DRM is going to work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        The DRM is going to work because it's implemented in a closed system?
        Wow, you better run out and tell Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony!
        All of them have put closed hardware in peoples living rooms and NONE of them have been hacked!

        </sarcasm>
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by romland (192158)
          Hmm. Referring to your sarcasm here, I don't know what you mean when you say "hacked". In Microsoft's case I dare say it's been successful. Sure, you can run pirated games on it, but it's far from a "hack once, run everywhere" trick. And it does seem like Microsoft could care less about the DVD-drive hack. What they *do* care about is the integrity of the box, they want it to remain closed and I think they have been damn successful in doing that.

          Sure, there was a hole which enabled people to run unsigned co
      • Re:Bad copy? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mgv (198488) <Nospam.01.slash2 ... Aorg minus punct> on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:07AM (#18918097) Homepage Journal
        It's revolutionary because this time the DRM is going to work.

        See my .sig

        Michael
        • by Kjella (173770)
          In cryptography, the statement has no meaning. If Alice wants to send a message to Bob but Bob is also the attacker, he doesn't have to do anything. Unfortunately, the problem description isn't right because if it was, there'd be no need to break DRM, would there? Let us introduce Charlie. Charlie is Alice's trusted friend, however he's also tetraplegic (paralyzed). Bob is Charlie's caretaker, he brings messages from Alice and has pretty much total access and control over Charlie. In her messages, Alice sen
          • by mgv (198488)

            If Alice wants to send a message to Bob but Bob is also the attacker, he doesn't have to do anything. Unfortunately, the problem description isn't right because if it was, there'd be no need to break DRM, would there? Let us introduce Charlie.
            .
            - ... EDITED OUT ...
            -
            .
            If you've followed me so far, you'll see that you're not Charlie.

            Firstly, thanks for the post. Its clear that you know alot more about cryptography than me. I actually have some problems with the use of Alice, Bob and Charlie, it makes it harde

          • Your description of a problem is also inaccurate.

            Charlie in your case, to make it analogous to the DRM scenario, is not a "paraplegic living in Bob's house", it is a device to which Bob can apply any technique, including destroying it, in his efforts to compromise it it, at will. Unlike Charlie, torture and piece-by-piece decomposition of whom would be, we hope, out of range of the "attacks" Bob can employ. Your liking of the Bob "attacks" to "rummaging through Charlie's quaters" is purposefuly designed to

            • It is akin to stating that an equation of 1 = 1 + ( 1 / 1 ) is not the same as 1 = 1.

              Which is obviously a true statement, since 1 + (1/1) = 2, thus the first equation doesn't hold, while the second one trivially does.
              • Which is obviously a true statement,
                A result of rush typing. I corrected that immediately afterwards in a separate post. You probably missed it.
          • Opps.

            That example equation in my previous reply was supposed to read: "1 = 1 + ( 1 - 1 )"

          • To further the argument, another angle has to be considered: the fact that Bob is in fact both the recipient and the attacker after the message has already passed out of the DRM device.

            In this scenario, the message for Bob has to be composed in such a way that Bob is able to understand it, in case of a TV signal this means human-readable image and sound, which message in that form is now widely open to rebroadcast to yet another party, James, who was not an intended recipient of Alice's message.

    • What it adds over the Apple TV seems to be direct download without a computer

      You've answered your own question genius! People want their device to just work, not have to fuck round setting up a PC for it to hook into.
      • by rm69990 (885744)
        To be fair, I don't expect people who don't already own a PC/Mac to purchase the AppleTV (or even know it exists for that matter), and likewise, I also see a similar result for people who don't know how to setup iTunes (it comes preinstalled on a Mac, and some of the most blatantly computer-illiterate people I know have installed iTunes on Windows just fine).

        I still think the AppleTV is poor value for money though.
    • by crumley (12964) *

      There's also no mention of podcast support, which is the real innovation from the Apple TV, in my mind.
      What is revolutionary about podcast support? TiVo has had it for years?
    • by tji (74570)
      AppleTV does have a component video out, in addition to the HDMI output.

      But, the AppleTV is by no means perfect. It seems to be underpowered for much HDTV content. Their specs limit HD to 720p @ 24fps at up to 5Mbps. That is not enough to be very flexible with HD. But, it's still hard to say how good it will be, because Apple doesn't have any HD content available.

      Hopefully the Vudu has a more capable video chip, which offloads more of the decoding process. Those chips are available, I'm surprised Ap
  • Costs for the user? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maubp (303462) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:35AM (#18917749)
    According to market analysist Nicholas Donatiello Jr quoted in the article, the ball park could be $300 for the box and between $6 adn $10 per movie. But they didn't touch on the bandwidth/data costs to the user - and as they are going with a peer-to-peer system, each customer will be donating some of their upload bandwidth too (possibly even when not watching a movie).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Simonetta (207550)
      A better idea would be to put a high speed downloading machine into the local video rental store. The store could download the top ten Hollywood movies in high res (or get a shipment of disks). Then the home movie viewer/renter could bring a hard disk or iPod-like device to the local video rental store and download the movie into the device. Then plug it into the home theater for viewing. That way they don't have to tie up their movie machine for hours downloading a single copy of the movie.
      • by gozu (541069)
        Who the hell modded this informative? This poster has obviously not RTFA and is just trolling. The post is factually incorrect. And by the way, Do you know how long it takes to copy gigabytes of redundant movie data to an iPod? I believe most of broadband users have download speeds of 1.5Mbps or more. That's more than enough to comfortably stream a 480p movie using an mpeg4 codec (h264 if the box is able, XviD equivalent if not). There is absolutely no reason the movie couldn't start playing within 10 sec
      • Who the hell modded this informative? This poster has obviously not RTFA and is just trolling. The post is factually incorrect.

        And by the way, Do you know how long it takes to copy gigabytes of redundant movie data to an iPod?

        I believe most of broadband users have download speeds of 1.5Mbps or more. That's more than enough to comfortably stream a 480p movie using an mpeg4 codec (h264 if the box is able, XviD equivalent if not). There is absolutely no reason the movie couldn't start playing within 10 seconds
      • by rm69990 (885744)
        Who says the movie has to finish downloading before you start to watch it? Joost uses Bittorrent, and there is a delay of.....15 seconds before a show starts playing. It continues downloading in the background while you watch the parts already downloaded (this is called..."streaming"...btw).
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:39AM (#18917761) Journal

    The box's biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection.
    Either this is going to be limited in which areas it is deployed or else this is hyperbole of the extreme. I doubt it will be able to deliver instantaneous playing straight for people no matter where they are in America as there are many places that do not have broadband.

    If Vudu succeeds, it may mean goodbye to laborious computer downloads, sticky-floored movie theaters and cable companies' much narrower video-on-demand offerings.
    Good luck with that. However the technology to release movies simultaneously with theatre releases has existed for some time (VHS), and every major studio released their stuff on VHS, but somehow managed to delay the VHS release until after the theatre release in most cases. I don't see anything in Vudu's offering that is likely to change this. Also if this requires I have an internet connection (it was a little light on that detail) then it won't do very well as people typically do not want their internet connection slowing to a halt because little billy wants to 101 Dalmatians. Also it doesn't mention if I will be able to burn my movie onto a DVD. If I can then what sort of DRM am I going to get encumbered with? If not, then I don't see these replacing DVDs (or Bluray/HDDVD). People like to be able to take a movie to their friends place without their friend needing to have a Vudu. Now unless Vudu quickly becomes cheaper then DVDs, I see this being too large a hurdle for it to overcome.
    • How many people can afford to have a room in their house that could come close to the quality that one can get at a theater? The size to the screen and quality of the sound would set someone back in the 10's of thousand of dollars. This is just like sports. It use to be that the average person could afford to go to a sporting event. Now one has to be in the top 25% at least to be able to afford a ticket. It seems that with television revenue it is enough revenue since they have yet to close any teams.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ahnteis (746045)
        When you sit closer to the screen, you don't WANT a screen the same size as a theatre. (Ever sat on the front row? Too close/big!)

        I have a simple 800X600 projector (so movies are standard def) showing on a 7' diagonal screen, and it's nearly as enjoyable as going to the theatre. I can enjoy much better seating, all the treats I want, and not have to worry about random people ruining the experience. If I had the money for a nicer (1080p) projector and high definition movies, I can see going to theatres e
        • Same situation, but 1280x720 resolution (sanyo Z1), and a 'free with projector' 100 inch screen, for $1200.

          This stuff really isn't that difficult to set up. These days I can even run it from my macbook pro, if you don't want to have a dedicated computer in the room.
        • Ever sat on the front row?
          Yes, I always do when I go alone. Well, the second row, anyway; I like to scoot down and rest my knees on the backs of the front row. For the last few Harry Potter and Star Wars movies, I've gone with my wife shortly after it opened, and then again by myself a week or two later -- usually on a Sunday morning before she's awake.
      • by rm69990 (885744)
        Yes, awesome theatre quality!! I get to hear random cell phones ringing, kids (and some adults) talking, occasional people fighting, my shoes fused to the floor by fermenting drinks, etc etc.

        Oh, and let's not forget not being able to go to the bathroom for the entire movie without missing some of it.

        I'd take a 42" LCD TV over the theatre any day of the week.

        Oh, and btw, there's a reason the front 3 rows of the theatre are rarely taken. The reason for that is because when you have a screen that huge, you don
    • Presumably, with the limited amount of movies which sit in the box office at any given time, this could be done pretty easily.

      You begin precaching chapters of the movie at the same time they get sent off to reproduction for theater distribution, and push them over the course of 6 to 8 weeks to all of the set-top boxes.

      Even at the worst broadband speeds, a high definition movie could be easily streamed to one of these boxes.

      Throw a cheap 1 tb RAID0 in the machine and you've got enough space to store 20 fu
  • Do people care? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:43AM (#18917777) Journal
    while the number of HDTVs sold has been rising steadily.

    I see statements like that and wonder if it is truely rising or if it's just that HDTVs are comming down steadily in price and so rather than wanting a HDTV they just buy the best set of features (aka what the sales guy says) which happens to be the latest TV. This would explain why more HDTVs are slowly being sold while the interest level (as far as I can see) is very low even among people with HDTV consoles which would benefit from them.

    But I suppose HDTV is much like Vista. We have no real control over the market, we have a market for both (HDTV and normal TVs/Vista and XP) until the makers decide the pull the plug and we're forced to one option even if we hate it.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Bingo!

      HDTV's are getting affordable and people are buying them. Problem is they ignore the other facts.

      1 - SD tv from your cable company looks incredibly bad on a HDTV. All that blockyness was smudged into an acceptable picture on your 32" Tube TV set. that nice crisp 720P display shows all the digital cable glory of blocks and artifacts. The HD channels that they do get and their DVD's look better, but the 90% of the channels they watch look crappier now.

      Oh they also notice their Tivo looks crappy and
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by jZnat (793348) *

        All that blockyness was smudged into an acceptable picture on your 32" Tube TV set. that nice crisp 720P display shows all the digital cable glory of blocks and artifacts.

        Maybe you never watch cartoons, but I can see the artifacts all the time on my 20-something inch standard-definition TV in my room over here. We have Dish Network, but I've seen worse (e.g., Comcast Digital Cable). I blame the fact that they're still using MPEG-2 video encoding; they could up the quality quite a bit and still save bandwidth if they were using MPEG-4 ASP or AVC, VC1, Theora (VP3), or VP7 to name a few modern video codecs.

        It's like the people that claim that XM and Sirius sounds as good as a CD... These people must be blind as the sattelite radio people must be deaf.

        Maybe you haven't listened to XM or Sirius on a car stereo, but I d

      • by toddestan (632714)
        1 - SD tv from your cable company looks incredibly bad on a HDTV. All that blockyness was smudged into an acceptable picture on your 32" Tube TV set. that nice crisp 720P display shows all the digital cable glory of blocks and artifacts. The HD channels that they do get and their DVD's look better, but the 90% of the channels they watch look crappier now.

        Oh they also notice their Tivo looks crappy and the 40 hour unit become a 8 hour unit as they have to up the record quality to maximum to not get disgusted
  • So.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kjella (173770) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:51AM (#18917809) Homepage
    Their box is planning to upload HDTV vids through average people's internet connection? Most people have enough downloading, thank you. Something tells me QoS routers will get very popular if this catches on. P2P is a great way to "chip in" your bandwidth without actually setting up a central system. If you've set up a central system already, bandwidth is much cheaper and more available centrally than it is for me. With my DSL line I'm basicly capped at whatever they are able to deliver, and I hardly think I'm alone in that. The marginal price for me to have another Mbit of upload capacity is ca. infinite, or at least some ungodly expensive business connection. Easynews offers 20GB download for $10, which is about the same infrastructure Vudu would need to have. I'd easily rather pay 10$ to Vudu than upload 20GB over my connection.
  • by Underbruin (979259) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:59AM (#18917833)
    From TFA: "It has built a small Internet-ready movie box that connects to the television and allows couch potatoes to rent or buy any of the 5,000 films now in Vudu's growing collection. The box's biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection." Two points. One, the article also makes note of the rise in HDTV sets - if that's indeed the case, wouldn't one selling point be the opportunity to offer movies in some fairly high-definition format (at LEAST DVD-quality)? Even for folks with broadband, most won't have the bandwith to pull down a DVD-or-better quality movie quickly enough to watch in real-time. The other point is the "rent or buy" verbiage - what defines 'renting' or 'buying' (normally I'd only have to ask what defines renting, but considering how the major movie/music studios have handled DRM, one must include buying in that request)? When the article says renting, do they mean along similar lines to what you might receive from a movie store, 3 days and then it goes away? Or do they mean something like purchasing a single viewing, along the lines of what you'd get in a movie theater - if the latter's the case, why the heck would I want to "rent" a new movie for almost the same price as going to see it in theaters? Even the best home setups really just can't compare to watching a movie at the theater, especially with some films being available at IMAX theaters and the like. This brings to light the question of the pricing scheme - new movies more costly than old? More popular movies have floating costs that increment with every X number of downloads? These are things I wouldn't put it past the MPAA to try and implement, and they'd spell a DOA right out of the gate for a service that's trying to supplant internet piracy. After all, you still just can't beat $Free.99 for price.
    • by mrbcs (737902) *
      No shit eh? Will these guys ever learn? I have a p3 733 that cost me about $100 3 years ago. I added a 128 meg video card and a dvd player. I can play anything on that to my basic tv. Looks fine, works great especially with vnc!

      I rip all my kids shows and put em on a server so I don't have to replace dvds every year.

      The only movies that we buy are kids shows. I don't watch movies repeatedly but the kids sure do. Even if we do, the prices should be a LOT less. $10? American money? They're nuckin futs! Stil

    • by Kjella (173770)
      Even the best home setups really just can't compare to watching a movie at the theater

      On the best screens. Movies like Pan's Labyrinth and Serenity that go on the side screens are completely underwhelming. A decent projector and a decent surrond system, and you're pretty much there.
  • Deteriorating? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:02AM (#18917847)

    It's no secret that the movie-going experience has been deteriorating

    How so? What has changed? Are the seats less comfy? Is the pop corn less crunchy? Is the sound less ugh-please-turn-the-bass-down-or-i-am-going-to-bar fy? Or is it that the home theater experience is improving with respect to the real theater experience so it makes you say it's deteriorating?

    • by joe_adk (589355)
      Well, I know it is deteriorating.

      When I was younger me and my friends would go to the theater and watch a few movies. Sure we would talk sometimes, but it was always humorous and appropriate.

      These days all the punk kids just sit around the theater talking and ruining my movie. Don't even get me started on the ones on my lawn (kids, not movies).

      See, I showed you how the movie-going experience has been deteriorated and the audience has gotten ruder (ruder? more rude?).
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        These days all the punk kids just sit around the theater talking and ruining my movie.

        Well, I never got that. Maybe because of the area I'm from, and I'm sure it's not a global trend. Is it? Are kids globally worse behaved than before?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Or perhaps our perception and tolerance has changed.
          As kids we didn't care or did it ourself. As adults, who can't go everyday or to every move and who don't have two months of summer vacation, we just want to watch the movie and not be annoyed by bored kids.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by jZnat (793348) *
        Well, there's this one theatre I went to recently that has a strict policy for R-rated films (they get their own hall, and you need both a stamp and your ticket to get in, and they check for ID), and even though there were probably at least 50 kids at the theatre, none of them were in the R-rated films. So, in order to enjoy your movie-going experience, it's best to enjoy crude humour (e.g., Aqua Teen Hunger Force), explosions, gratuitous violence, and sex. Or enjoy films that the kids wouldn't like anyho
    • Re:Deteriorating? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Councilor Hart (673770) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:07AM (#18918105)
      • People chatting instead of watching the movie. The entire length. (happend to me more than once)
      • Whining kids.
      • Doors not closing automatically when the movie starts, so either you try to ignore the outside glare (really great if the opening scene is quite dark) or you get up and close the door yourself. Which is usually reopened a few minutes later by late people who are looking for a seat. They do this either chatting, either blocking your field of view. Or even worse, they ask you to move from your seat which you have occupied for the last half hour because you were in time and wanted to have a decent position in the theater (relative to the screen) in a chair that is not falling apart.
      • One of the sound boxes fails half way, and keeps churning throughout the remainder.
      • They start playing the wrong movie.
      • Sound system is badly adjusted. Or it's so loud, your ears ring for hours afterwards.
      • The sound from the theater above,below,right, left is seeping through the walls.
      • Misaligned picture.
      • Subtitles (with DVD I can finally turn them off)
      • Toilet fee.
      • Overpriced food and you are not allowed to bring your own.
      • Overpriced tickets. Spend a few euros more and you can buy the dvd after a few months.
      • 20 minutes of commercials, and that amount just keeps rising.
      • etc.
      You're right. Nothing has changed. It has always been crappy. But now we finally have a choice. We can watch at our home theater. I don't want to go to the theater anymore. And when I do, I go with friends. I see it then as a social event and just hope the theater experience that evening isn't too bad. Dinner, movie and bar. Most of the weeks we just skip the movie.
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Well, I've only had to complain about the two last points you provided, other than that I've hardly ever had to deal with any of that. Anyways, I agree with you, it doesn't seem like it has deteriorated, it's just that home theater is more interesting now. I'm not a movie person anyway, movies are way too long, I'm totally into series. I mean I never even found the time to watch 300 on my computer, as much as I wanna see it (in spite of its long duration).

      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I think you are going to the wrong theatre. My AMC card has almost 900 points (2 points per movie ticket) and in my entire life, I've never experienced most of those problems.

        * People chatting instead of watching the movie. The entire length. (happend to me more than once)
        Tell an employee. (Never happened to me, but then... The few times I was annoyed more than a few minutes, I told an employee and they 'fixed' the 'problem'.)
        * Whining kids.
        Tell a
        • Complain or pick another theatre. Ah, I wish.
          The country I live in has a population equal to New York city.
          We have one chain (one of the largest if not the largest in Europe) of theater. And at some point I lived near one of the largest theater complex in Europe.
          So I can go to the chain, or to the alternative movie house (more cultural, not main stream) if there is one. And sometimes I just want to see hollywood main stream.
          No, english is not my native language, so yes I have to suffer the subtitles.
          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by 4D6963 (933028)

            You guys have american movies in english an subtitled in your language? That sucks, what country do you live in? Here in France the american movie dubbing industry is huge, and every american movie is properly dubbed, and most of the time it sounds better in french than in the original version.

            • by 4D6963 (933028)

              lol, wtf, is the guy who modded this Troll is retarded? How on Earth is that trolling?

          • by Aladrin (926209)
            Then in your place, I'd vote with my wallet. I'd not go to theatres that treat me like I don't matter to them. If you continue to give them your money, you (and everyone else that goes there) are telling them that what they are doing is okay. They -know- it's okay because they are making plenty of money at it.

            So you don't have a home theatre yet. Don't use that as a reason to keep paying them money. Find something else to do for a while. Read a book, play a game, build model rockets... Anything. If
            • I'd vote with my wallet
              That's what I am doing. I only go when invited, because of the social setting. My dvd collection has expanded tremendously the last 2 years. There are also shops I don't go anymore because they treat me as a criminal. You know the routine, no backpacks allowed. Open your bags please. No, you can't take your 1200 euro laptop with you in the store. You have to leave it in the locker and no, we assume no responsibility if something happens with it.
              Books are great. My book collection
              • by Aladrin (926209)
                Well I'm preaching to the choir then. Heh.

                I thought by the name that I'd read that series, but apparently not. I'll have to find it. Thanks for the pointer.
                • martin [georgerrmartin.com]
                  It's a set of books you won't be able to put down. So If I were you, I would wait until a few weeks before the next one comes out in november before reading them. Nothing as worse as having to wait months or years before the next one.
                  • by Aladrin (926209)
                    Thanks, but I meant find as in 'purchase', not 'research'. Preferably in un-drm'd ebook, but in paperback if I have to. (I'm cheap and paperbacks have the same words.)
      • he sound from the theater above,below,right, left is seeping through the walls ..... a chair that is not falling apart ..... Toilet fee

        Is this a third world country you're talking about, or are theater operators outside the US actively attempting to kill their own business?

        Toilet fee? Please tell me what country this is in so that I may avoid it. If it's not free to urinate, it is surely going to be costly for me to ever visit.

        Maybe my experience is biased from living in a reasonably prosperous part of the USA most of my life, but the theaters are good quality, the seats are always in good maintenance and clean, the bathrooms are cl

        • Is this a third world country you're talking about, or are theater operators outside the US actively attempting to kill their own business? ha, that is funny.
          Nope, it's Belgium (11th richest country in the world). Yes, I think they are trying to kill their own business. They certainly have run me away.
          Ah, and in some theaters the floors are indeed sticky or not cleaned (well) after a bunch of bored teenagers have passed through.
          Don't get me wrong. Most of the time it's agreeable, but sometimes the exper
    • For me, the theater experience has been deteriorating because they insist on making me watch, on average, about thirty to fifty minutes of advertising before the movie starts. That often includes a slide show of one-page ads from local used car dealers and so forth. If I want that crap I can get it at home on any of the regular broadcast channels.

      Some DVDs are starting to do the same thing (unskippable adverts) and that "deteriorates" the experience for me there as well.

      I contrast that to the experien
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        You know what's the weirdest about their ads? It's that, as you pointed, they're local ads for stuff like a local comic books store, but worst part is that you see the same ad before every movie you watch at that theater for about 10 years! Which makes me think that these stores musn't pay that much money for their advertisement, with respect to the price of the ticket (often around 7 euros around here). Wouldn't they attract more people and thus make more money if they completely gave up on the ads?

        • Wouldn't they attract more people and thus make more money if they completely gave up on the ads?

          You'd think so, wouldn't you? I dunno ... but what they're doing now is definitely causing me to lose interest. And that's too bad, because there are few things I like better than to watch a good film on the big screen.
      • I've walked out a couple of times and got my money back after almost an hour of previews and ads.
        Have you tried showing up later? Around here, those slide shows are dying off, but they never went past the announced start time of the movie. Previews do, but those are more interesting.
        • A lot of us did, but then they starting randomizing the start time so you'd either see some ads or miss the start of the movie. But yeah, lately it does seem like they're starting to realize that they pissing off their customers a little too much.
    • I think the original submission was horribly written, in part because of what you state. My home theater is very nice compared to most home movie watching setups but compared to theaters local to me, it's not nearly as good.

      Maybe I've been lucky, but the few times I do go to a movie, I have had a very good experience, no phones, no babies, no (or few, but quiet) weenies talking, no sticky floors, comfortable seats in stadium arrangement.

      I don't think DVD sales began to stagnate because they cut through the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ewg (158266)
      The cinema experience isn't deteriorating; the Slashdot crowd is reaching the age where people get tired of it.
    • There are now about 30 - 60 minutes of commercials before the film? The sound is jacked up to 11 in many theaters (I've been bringing earplugs to theaters in the last year, to avoid losing my hearing in the rare case I want to go to a show.) There are a painful number of shitty previews. Cell phones now are common, and people refuse to get off of them during movies.

      On top of all that, the cost of movies (and especially concessions) has skyrocketed. I think tickets are now 10-11 in my area for a prime ti
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Have you ever noticed all the odd "dust" artifacts that appear when you watch a movie at the theatres? Even digital film has this problem. Then there's the every 11 minutes queue-up-the-next-reel-dot which is pretty annoying. And there's those "anti-piracy" dots that are specific to the theatre you're at that appear pretty randomly throughout the film in the fucking middle of the screen.

      Sound quality is still pretty damn good, but video quality could definitely improve. I believe it's an issue with the
      • by jp10558 (748604)
        That's true... I'm not a videophile by any means, but now that I think about it, the movies always look like they need to get a new reel... like the 15 year old things shown in my high school that had been watched a million times. Even on opening day.

        And I think it is all the splotches etc. At least DVD is still clean.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:45AM (#18918011)
    And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.

    Which is crap on both fronts. Peer-to-peer has hardly "consumed" the music business, last I heard they were still in business and making money. Unless he means that P2P has consumed an unreasonable amount of attorney's fees lately. I'd agree with that.

    This guy is just trying to make this appear to be a proactive solution to a problem the movie houses really aren't experiencing yet, hoping that one or more of them will jump on the bandwagon.

    The success of iTunes was also proving that the digital transition was inevitable and that one powerful player, Apple, could control the market if Hollywood did not find other viable partners.

    No, the success of iTunes has, if anything, taught the movie industry that the very last thing it wants is content distribution run by a high-powered technology company with both the money and the balls to tell the studios "here's the deal - take it or leave it."

    Both the music and the movie industries have long shown themselves to be anti-technology control freaks. Unless they can own this technology they'll never go for it, and if they did own it they'd lock it down so tightly that we would never go for it.

    I can't argue that the DVD was a phenomenal success, but that was because the average user wasn't left feeling too restricted. The reason he felt that way was because he generally just played his movies on his living room TV, and never needed to rip his data to some other format. That's changing, not to the level that music reproduction has changed but it's happening, and when enough people can't legally or practically move their movies to other devices the same problems will arise.
  • HD Downloads (Score:1, Interesting)

    by tryptych (1023927)
    I am already using a LAN based DVD player, http://www.neodigits.com/ [neodigits.com] so I can play DVDs as well as Divx etc downloads to my PC via P2P services, which it then upscales to my 1080p HD TV. The device is essentially a Linux-based dedicated PC, using a custom HTML/XML browser as a GUI. There are already quite a few products using this concept. I cannot see why the technology won't be available very soon to connect directly to a pay site. Admiteddly, one will need a pretty fast internet connection, but with a de
    • What was once considered a pipe-dream to have a complete home entertainment and communications centre is rapidly appearing over the horizon.

      True, but the only thing standing in the way of that Utopian vision is the typical massively under-provisioned ISP who couldn't even begin to handle that level of data transfer. The only thing that could make such a thing possible would be the big boys (Baby Bells, Comcast, Verizon, etc.) setting up edge caching of some kind to keep popular downloads within their res
  • by jonwil (467024) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:53AM (#18918035)
    Just as an example of some items I am unable to buy on DVD here in australia but would like to own:
    Snow White (the pre-WW2 Disney classic)
    The Real Ghostbusters (the 80s cartoon)
    Tales Of The Gun (History Channel documentary series)
    Other History Channel documentaries
    Space Above And Beyond
    Hey Dad (classic Aussie sitcom)

    Even if you account for the fact that some of them (like some of the History Channel stuff) may in fact be available if you are willing to import from America, there are still plenty of movies and TV episodes that you just plain can't get legally on DVD or from ANY download service anywhere in the world.
  • Voodoo or Snake Oil? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tjl2015 (673427) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:16AM (#18918147)
    This device sounds like a win for the MPAA/movie industry and a big loss for the consumer. Lets see how this device functions:

    1. You have to buy an expensive box. Most services like this offer the device cheap or free. Satellite boxes, cable boxes, TIVOs, all are or can be free with service plans.

    2. Peer-to-peer transfers. Sure, they say they are doing this to offer instantaneous availability of content, but it is just an excuse to shift the bandwidth cost to the end user. And, it doesn't just work exactly like BitTorrent. With BitTorrent, you are only uploading while the transfer takes place. This box uses every box as a source, all the time. If your box has a copy of a movie on it, it will upload it whenever someone else needs it. It doesn't sound like this service should be any more expensive than any other. If YouTube can afford to send me internet-quality video for the few pennies they get from my add revenues, Vudu can afford to send me DVD-quality video for the 10 bucks I'm paying them to buy their movie.

    3. End-to-end DRM, vendor lock-in. This is why they're so popular with the studios. While freeing people from the "tyranny" of the computer, they simultaneously give up their best chance at circumventing draconian controls.

    4. No DVD burner of any kind. This is the Achilles heel. They offer the option to "rent" or "purchase" downloads. For the 'rent' option, the file obviously deletes itself after a fixed amount of time. What about the movies I purchase? If it were on a computer I could make a backup copy on another hard drive or a DVD. With this, that option does not exist. The device's hard drive, however large, has a finite capacity. Once that fills up, whoops, what are you supposed to do? I guess you have to delete one of the movies you "bought." If they address this at all, they might let you re-download movies you delete. Regardless, it is at their discretion.

    5. Bandwidth. Very few people have Ethernet jacks next to their television. For many people, this will leave wireless as their only option. With wireless, I would be skeptical of its ability to cope with the massive upload/download requirements. Even if it can cope, the necessity to either lay Ethernet cables down or configure a wireless network is completely antithetical towards the plug-and-play, instant gratification consumer they're targeting. They're trying to package a computer in a format your Luddite grandmother won't recognize as a computer, while simultaneously requiring her to configure a wireless network.

    In summary, to use this system, I have to buy an expensive box, I have to pay for all the bandwidth, and I have absolutely no control over the files I download. This device is about one thing, control. Control of content and control of consumers.

    As much as I would like to see no DRM, I will admit that Apple figured out how to do DRM right with iTunes. The basic principle they applied was, "we will make the new format no more restrictive than the old format." Like CDs, FairPlay lets you burn as many CD copies as you want of files. It also lets you back up your files to multiple computers. Vudu's box ties all of my purchases to the lifetime of a single piece of hardware, offering no backup solutions, total DRM, and a system that's designed to screw over the consumer at every single turn.

    I hope this is not the way that the industry is going. I don't think the Vudu box will be a great success. However, they may still find enough people who want something that "just works" to find a market. Regardless, it will fall upon the usual legion, the modern fighters for freedom, the hackers and crackers to break the chains of DRM and vendor-lock in. It may be easier to crack something when it's on the computer, but being a stand-alone box hasn't saved the XBox, Playstations, and innumerable other devices from being opened in the same way.

    Ultimately, the studios know this. They simply want the circumvention to be so difficult that 95% of users will not attemp


    • Whether they've realized it or not, Vudu has chosen the perfect name for their insidious little device. Let's compare the Vudu box with your average Voodoo witch doctor:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie [wikipedia.org]

      1. A witch doctor surrounds himself with pseudo-mystical obfuscation and claims to raise the dead. The Vudu box surrounds itself with pseudo-mystical obfuscation and claims to do the technologically impossible.

      2. A witch doctor puts his victim in a death-like-state using a variety of poisons and ve
    • by jmichaelg (148257)

      If YouTube can afford to send me internet-quality video for the few pennies they get from my add revenues, Vudu can afford to send me DVD-quality video for the 10 bucks I'm paying them to buy their movie.

      You're ignoring some basic limitations. Say they have a million customers and they all want to watch a dvd-quality video. Assuming an average download capacity of 2 Mbs, that's 2 terabits a second you want Vudu to source. That's if they only sell a million copies of their machine. Steve Jobs was boasting about selling 100 million iPods. Sell a 100 million vudu and that 2 terabit stream just mushroomed to 200 terabits. Why should vudu shoulder that cost when the user's bandwidth isn't being used and the cos

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nonsequitor (893813)
        The one thing commercial P2P companies always seem to forget is to compensate the end user for their bandwidth. If they tracked how much you upload and "purchased" your bandwidth using store credit or something, then this might be a viable model. However, if they don't do that they'll find themselves throttled to a trickle in my house since I have better uses for the bandwidth, which I pay for, than to give it to some company which isn't even compensating me for it.
  • Does it run a proprietary DRMed Linux?
  • I feel that they are a bit myopic here. Nice that they are trying to innovate, but what if some family likes to watch several movies in a month. HD movies will not be small files by any means, and will be a natural progression of the service I'm sure even though the article does not specifically state that they will be offering HD content. What if you download/watch several movies which you legally paid for and then get your cable cut off by companies like Comcast for exceeding their "magical" and hidden d

  • > DVD sales began to stagnate because studios had finally plowed through their entire backlog
    > of movies that could be released on the shiny discs?

    Bull-f*ing-shit!!! There are hundreds -- thousands -- of movies out there that I simply cannot buy on DVD!!! Where can I buy a DVD of "Hamburger: the Motion Picture"? How about a copy of "Stewardess School"? These are a couple of the funniest movies ever made, and are in my personal top ten.

    Want to talk about copyright reform? How about a provision
    • Hmm.
      Hamburger: The Motion Picture [imdb.com], Stewardess School [imdb.com]:
      If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:

      Bikini Drive-In [imdb.com], H.O.T.S. [imdb.com], L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return to Savage Beach [imdb.com]

      Are you sure the movie companies aren't doing us all a favour by not releasing those 2 on DVD.??

      On the other hand, you do have a point about copyright. The studios are more likely to provide a 'burn on demand' system though.
      • by xjimhb (234034)
        Oh, yeah, I forgot about "H.O.T.S." which was pretty good (a couple of sequels to it came up kind of short, though). I never saw those other two you mentioned.

        I wouldn't mind "burn on demand" for obscure movies with a niche market (which might well describe the ones mentioned), it is far better than "unavailable." But it has one drawback that regularly published titles don't ... no rental market, which means I can't get a look at "Bikini Drive-in" to decide if I want to buy it or not.

        Here might be an actual
        • Here might be an actual legitimate application for DRM
          The applications of DRM are not the problem (Hell, I even would support some of them). The problem is that it can never work, and attempts to force it to work are damaging other things.
    • Part of the problem is some studios have forgotten they even own the rights to some movies. Electric Dreams [imdb.com] is one such movie, the only DVD copies being unofficial copies made from VHS releases. Some are only available in other countries and/or out of print such as Prime Risk [imdb.com]. Flash Gordon [imdb.com] has been long in need of a US re-release. And I want to see Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig in Moontrap [imdb.com] again, and have ever since the similar Virus [imdb.com] (1999) came out. I'm sure Terminal Entry [imdb.com] is as bad as I remember i
  • missing the point (Score:2, Interesting)

    by netean (549800)
    Movie studios are missing the point. DVD sales are slowing/stagnating not because their back catalogue has been released (it hasn't I'm sure) but by the overall PITA that is DVD viewing.
    Find DVD on shelf amongsth the 1000s of others
    Open box, fiddle with little plastic thingy that keeps disc secure
    Insert DVD -> wait for drive to spin up ->
    Wait for the DRM Copyright notice to go away (PITA) ->
    Watch Disc manufacturers logo ->
    (optionally sit through dozens of equally annoying, piss adverts or trail
  • I'd buy one of these boxes, the moive thereters around here are kinda sketchy, I would love to have the guys over for a party, release screening of a summer blockbuster.
  • by nanosquid (1074949) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @12:18PM (#18919155)
    My first reaction was: why should I provide free hosting for a commercial vendor of video? Let them pay for their own hosting and bandwidth.

    But, come to think of it, if a service like this legitimizes large upstream bandwidth, we all win. One of the biggest threats to the Internet is still that upstream bandwidths become limited. So, from that point of view, I'm all for commercial P2P. I can still give its traffic low priority at the router.
  • FTFS:

    And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.

    (Emphasis mine)
    OK. I'll raise the BS flag.

    Digital piracy did not consume the music business. Price gouging, crappy releases, treating customers like criminals, and failure to adapt to changing technologies harmed the music business. That is, just as with so many other businesses, the cause of problems

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