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Blockbuster On Demand….. Is It Really Here?

Blockbuster is coming to terms with the fact that internet video blockbusterstreaming and downloading has put video rentals stores on their way out the door.  In response, Blockbuster has a new product on the market for movie-watchers to view on their home theater systems, the MediaPoint Player.

MediaPoint makes is possible to download videos over home internet or mobile internet connection for immediate viewing.  The device is made by 2Wire Inc. and costs $99 when purchased from the website.  The first 25 movie rentals from blockbuster are free, while they run $1.99-$4.99 afterwards.  As a latecomer to the market, Blockbuster meets these other competitors who are already on the market:  Roku Netflix Player $99, Apple TV $229, and Vudu $299.

MediaPoint Player fails to compare in these ways

  1. Download time for each movie can range up to an hour, depending on connection speed.  It begins playing in the meantime, but can only play forward continuously during this time.  It cannot be stopped and resumed or fast-forwarded and rewound until the download is complete.
  2. User interface on screen and on the remote are not as user-friendly as the competitor’s products.  Image on screen can be blurry on a HDTV and the buttons on the remote have complicated and cryptic appearance.
  3. Standard definition is the format for most movies available for rental.  Some are in HD, but are not marked as such when selecting from the screen.
  4. 24 hour rental rule keeps you from being able to watch half tonight and half tomorrow night.  In this case, it would have to be downloaded and paid for a second time and you wouldn’t be able to fast-forward to the pick-up point until the download was complete.  Otherwise, you would have to complete the movie earlier in the evening before the hourglass ran out!
  5. Pricing model is not incomparable to Apple and Vudu, but is easily beaten by Netflix.  Netflix has its content licensed differently, allowing a pass off of savings to the consumer for unlimited viewing at a measly $9/mth.  Also, the library of blockbuster contains about 2,000 titles up against Netflix’ staggering 12,000 title stash.

Advantages of the MediaPoint Player

  1. Blockbuster has quicker availability for rental than Netflix, releasing them as soon as one month from the DVD public release date.  However the Roku (maker of the Netflix Player) is teaming with Amazon to offer rentals in the same fashion as Blockbuster currently is able to do.
  2. Blockbuster (along with Apple and Vudu) downloads movies instead of streaming them like Netflix, so the quality is more consistently high quality once the download is complete.

There are some positive characteristics about the MediaPoint from Blockbuster, but in this race, the first place medal is going to another runner.

As an audio video dealer we look forward to bringing you more information on topics like these

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January 19, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LG makes a splash at CES

By Joanna McDonald

logo_lgHome theater enthusiasts have some new toys to look forward to from LG to upgrade their home theater systems. At the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, LG debuted gadgetry that allows you to watch TV wirelessly. A box, placed on a TV stand or tucked discreetly out of sight, uses a 60GHz channel to send an uncompressed 1080p image to your wall-mounted flat-panel. This is great on the home theater design front too—if you install an outlet on the wall directly behind the TV, and you’ll eliminate all those impossibly messy wires for a sleek, clean look.

There was also news that will cause Netflix lovers everywhere to swoon, and likely head in droves to the nearest retailer of LG products. (Netflix, of course, is the online DVD rental king that allows subscribers to choose DVDs, receive them in the mail, and return at their convenience, sans late fees. It’s been massively popular and has been actively building partnerships with the likes of Microsoft, TiVo and Samsung.) LG will start peddling TVs with Internet connectivity that can stream any of Netflix’s 12,000 offerings. You may already be aware that one of LG’s Blu-Ray players has the Netflix-streaming capability, but who needs a Blu-Ray player when…umm…you don’t need one?

The LG-Netflix partnership does have notably stiff competition in this field of content streaming. Amazon.com and Roku announced last week that they’ll be pairing up; California-based Roku will produce a set-top box through which users will be able to buy, rent and watch the 40,000 movies and TV shows that Amazon has.

One other notable feature LG unveiled at CES was blur reduction, which they’ve coined “TruMotion.” It’s gotten mainly good reviews for helping to reduce the blur that occurs during fast motion scenes.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mine’s Thinner, Newer and More Connected than Yours

By Dawn Hatchard

cesBigger is not better this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Efficiency, internet capabilities, and portable devices have taken over the “mine’s bigger than yours” competition seen in recent years.

Meeting the demand for more energy efficient TVs, Samsung has introduced 1-inch thick TVs that reportedly use 40% less energy. Rather than fluorescent lamps, these ultra-thin TVs utilize LEDs (light-emitting diodes) as the light source.
Netflix has done it again by making its innovative online movie ordering available from your TV. LG has paired with Netflix to enable users to stream some 12,000 movies and shows right to the HD sets with no additional equipment required.

Are 12,000 titles not enough for you? Amazon has partnered up with the new players, Roku Inc., to offer 40,000 movies and shows on the $100 Roku player (www.roku.com).

Of course there is more available with these internet-friendly TVs than just the ability to stream videos. Small internet applications can be utilized alongside the program you’re watching. Couch surfing will take on a whole new meaning as you watch a movie and stay on top of messages, all on one screen. All the big names have hopped on this bandwagon, including: LG, Samsung, Pioneer, Pioneer Elite, Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic.

What will one of these broadband TVs set us back, as the consumer? It is less than you might think; only a mere $200-$300 more than standard HD sets.

Do you gotta have BLU-RAY? Want it everywhere? This portable prayer has been answered by the thoughtful folks at Panasonic. A couple of specs include: 8.9 inch LCD and VIERA CAST internet accessibility. VIERA CAST offers access to Amazon’s video-on-demand, YouTube, and other popular applications. One unfortunate condition is the 3-hour rechargeable battery, which limits the number of movies you can watch before recharging.

No pricing information is available from Panasonic, but we all know that if you want the premium quality of BLU-RAY, you must pay the premium price.

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments