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There are many options available if you want to rent or buy a movie, including Vudu, which I’ll be delving into in this review. Although Vudu offers more than 150,000 on-demand movies and TV shows, it is up against tough competition from Google Play, Amazon Video, and iTunes. What does it compare to?
Not all content is appropriate for all video streaming services. While some businesses will gladly let you watch their programs for free online, others will keep their movie paywalls up as long as they can. Given this reality, Vudu asks, “Why not both?” Not only can you watch a variety of ad-supported films and television programs, but you can also rent or buy the biggest successes. Although the user interface could be improved and there aren’t any intriguing exclusives, Vudu is still a desirable service all around.
What You Can Watch on Vudu
Technically, adding a movie to your permanent Vudu collection doesn’t always require that you purchase it from the service. The reason for this is that the service provides a “Disc to Digital” program. It allows users to scan physical movies using their mobile device and, depending on the format, turn such movies into digital copies for $2 or $5.
However, I discovered that Vudu offered more than simply rentals and purchases. I had access to a library of free, ad-supported video thanks to Vudu as well. Although there were some significant distinctions, it reminded me of what other competitors offer.
Expanding beyond rentals and purchases has meant providing “live TV” to certain other services, such Redbox. However, Vudu doesn’t offer any live channels. Vudu is continuing to just offer on-demand movies and TV series as both free and paid content, at least for the time being. The only similarities between live TV and Vudu’s free programming are the commercial interruptions.
So there you have it: Vudu only offers on-demand entertainment. But what types of movies are available on Vudu? I discovered everything, from well-known movies that are still playing in theaters to obscure films that I had no idea existed. The Avengers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Trolls World Tour were among the movies I saw when I filtered the movies category by “most-watched” viewers.
Vudu Movie content
You should typically presume that renting or purchasing movies like this will cost you money. But how about business? Every platform like Vudu includes a category for customers who wish to buy movies and TV series at a discount. James Bond flicks, “vintage kids movies and TV series,” as well as my personal favorite, “No-Shave November,” were all on cheap when I tested Vudu.
Yes, someone at Vudu put together a list of movies depending on whether or not the actors have facial hair. The Big Lebowski, Borat, and No Country for Old Men are a few examples. Personally, the first thing that comes to mind whenever I think about No Country for Old Men is, “Man, someone give those people a razor!”
Vudu features more than simply movies; it also has TV series. On the Vudu app, I discovered complete seasons of shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Game of Thrones, and South Park. You’ll be glad to know that episodes can also be bought separately if you’d like to just buy one or two seasons of a specific show. Also available for free streaming are ad-supported programs like Hell’s Kitchen, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and The Big Comfy Couch.
How It Felt to Use Vudu
Although the Vudu apps are all quite simple, I don’t believe they are all made equally. During my testing, I discovered that using Vudu on the Roku platform was preferable to doing it using a web browser.
To be fair, a portion of the cause was the size of the screen: Since the screen on my TV is bigger than the one on my laptop, I was able to view several titles at once. Still, I thought Vudu’s interface wasn’t always optimized to fit the best on various screen sizes.
The set-up of Vudu’s apps is similar on all platforms: The home screen contains a sampling of featured titles to scroll through, and I could scroll to the top and click on a category to explore further.
Watching Trolls on Vudu
Finding various categories was a little bit simpler with the Vudu Roku app, mostly because the top menus were simpler to access. I had to use a pull-down menu on the online interface to thoroughly sort through my alternatives. However, the web version made it simple to select by criteria such as year and MPAA rating. I found the ability to filter by a movie or TV show’s Rotten Tomatoes rating to be quite useful. I believe you will, particularly if you like to read reviews before pressing the start button.
One thing that was missing from Vudu’s app on every platform I tried was any way to sort titles by price. I could view just the free titles in each category, but that was the only price-related control — I couldn’t set a maximum price of $3 or $5, for example.
The “Deals” category had a selection of movies available to buy for $5.99 or less, which made the lack of price filtering a little less frustrating, but I still wished that I had more ways to sort and sift the content by price. The prices on Vudu vary significantly, even within the “Deals” category, partly because the deals were sometimes for multiple movies bundled together in packages.
Vudu – My Movies
All services like this have rules regarding how long you can wait to start watching a rented movie and how long you’ll have it after you hit “play.” With Vudu, I got 30 days to start watching something. In my experience, that’s the industry standard, so I had no complaints about that part.
But the actual viewing window disappointed me: With most rentals on Vudu, I got only 24 hours with a film starting from the time I began watching. The standard on services like Redbox and Amazon Prime Video seems to be 48 hours, so Vudu came up short here.
Again, this was most titles, not all of them: There’s a category of movie rentals that last 3 days, which is nice. But most of them seemed to be Disney titles, and I can stream those anytime I want through my Disney+ subscription. All of the films I rented when testing this service gave me just 24 hours to finish once I’d started, and that didn’t impress me.
Of course, the rules are different when purchasing a movie. At that point, it’s in your personal library forever, or at least for as long as Vudu exists. Vudu also makes it easy to find purchased movies; all you have to do is navigate to the “My Vudu” section. I could even add movies to my wishlist for later.
Finally, I should mention this: I had to sign in to watch anything on Vudu, including free content. I created a free Vudu account, but if you don’t want to do that, you can also log in using a pre-existing Facebook or Walmart account.
Vudu Features and Streaming Quality
Vudu has an exclusive type of HD known as “HDX.” HDX streams in 1080p at 24 frames per second, which is similar to HD titles on other services. But Vudu says its quality is better because, among other things, it encodes videos at a higher bitrate. When I watched HDX on the app, I did notice that the video quality was nice and crisp — especially considering that, by the numbers, 24 FPS is not all that impressive.
If HDX doesn’t sound appealing, Vudu also contains an impressive selection of 4K Ultra HD rentals. I found at least 300 titles in that format. For comparison’s sake, services like Redbox don’t have any digital titles available in 4K. If you’re interested in watching movies in the highest available picture quality, then Vudu is definitely worth a look. Vudu’s 4K selection includes everything from Home Alone to Deadpool.
Vudu Platform Support
Vudu promises that its service “plays on all your favorite devices.” That sounds nice, but there are some major gaps. First, let’s talk about smart TVs: Vudu is compatible with Vizio, Samsung and LG. It also works with Sony, Samsung, and LG Blu-Ray players.
For streaming devices, you can choose from Roku, Chromecast, or TiVo. If something seems missing, that’s because it is: Vudu is not compatible with either Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV. For that, you can probably blame Walmart. Walmart doesn’t own Vudu anymore, but they did until pretty recently. Amazon and Walmart are fierce competitors, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t exactly be buddies.
What about video game consoles? Vudu works with Playstation, Xbox, and the Android TV-based Nvidia Shield TV. If you’re out and about, you can watch Vudu on both Android and iOS devices.
Finally, there are computers. You can watch Vudu on both Macs and PCs. If you want to watch in Vudu’s special HD format, “HDX,” then you’ll need to use Safari or Edge. If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, you’ll only be able to watch SD.
I tested Vudu with Roku, iOS, and the Chrome browser.
There’s no monthly subscription cost to Vudu. Instead, you pay as you go. For instance, if I wanted to buy a new release like Mulan, I could expect to pay $19.99. That’s a typical price point for buying a movie through Vudu. What if I wanted to rent Mulan? I couldn’t, at least not as of this writing.
But most of the movies are available to rent as well as buy. For renting, the most common price point seems to be $3.99, which is in line with similar services like Redbox. Some titles are as cheap as $1.99, while newer titles will cost $5.99 to rent. All those prices are similar to what I’ve seen on other services. I was expecting to pay more for 4K titles, so I liked that you could get a movie for the same price regardless of format. In other words, if a movie costs $5.99 to rent in SD, it will also cost $5.99 in “HDX” and 4K.
What about the free titles? It seems to me like you get what you pay for there, which is nothing. The only free titles I really recognized were the films Kate and Leopold, Sin City, and The Boondock Saints. And when I watched some of Kate and Leopold, I found that the ad breaks weren’t exactly natural. The first ad break started immediately after Hugh Jackman’s Leopold started chasing a guy on horseback. To be clear, it didn’t feel like a cliffhanger, as some abrupt commercial breaks do on cable. Instead, it felt like Vudu was inserting ads on a specific schedule, regardless of how it affected the viewing experience.
Vudu Review: Our Verdict
Vudu gets points for its high-definition options, but it loses points for its short rental window. This service may be right for streamers who have 4K TVs, but I have a hard time getting over the fact that Vudu makes viewers finish most films in just 24 hours — half the time that high-profile competitors like Amazon Video and Redbox typically offer.
Vudu is not a good fit if it sometimes takes you a couple of days to watch a movie in its entirety. Sometimes I turn on a movie and get sleepy or decide I’d rather watch a live football game, so I like the flexibility of those longer windows.
If you do as well, you can look at the 3-day rentals on Vudu. But if you want a service where 48 hours is the norm, head to Redbox or Amazon Prime Video. Ultimately, Vudu’s problem is that there are some other services out there that offer the exact same services — and do a slightly better job of it.