For those who may have missed the previous article on Vudu, it is a set top box that allows you to instantly select movies to rent or purchase and have them playback on your TV. And while other manufacturers go through the yearly cycle of rolling out new models with new features, Vudu has taken a different route. Instead of having to replace your original model in order to have the latest features, Vudu has designed their box to evolve as the technology improves. This ensures that your investment will always have the latest features and options available. In my previous product review for the Vudu I made the statement that the box you purchase today will not be the same that you have tomorrow. Nine months later that statement still holds true and has been validated by the numerous advancements Vudu has made.

Vudu has released a new chassis for the XL model called the XL2. This does not replace the XL, but is an alternate design option. Externally the XL2 is a slimmer version that exploits the convenience and aesthetics of mounting your equipment in a rack unit. This is a great feature that really helps address any wire management or space allocation issues. Internally the XL2 is identical to the XL.

Another new product release is Vudu’s Wireless Adapter Kit. If for any reason your Vudu is in a location that does not have convenient internet access, this is a great plug-and-play solution. All that is required is to connect one adapter to your home network and then the other to your Vudu. Since the adapters are pre-paired, there is no configuration required for the two adapters to communicate with each other. By combining this feature and the 802.11g wireless format, a secure and self-contained point to point communication is now established exclusively for your Vudu. This accessory is a great addition to ensure operation of your Vudu remains as convenient as possible.

An optional software upgrade for the Vudu XL/XL2 has been released as well. The upgrade will allow your Vudu to output resolutions of up to 1080i via the component output. This is a crucial addition when the Vudu is being used as a source in a component video based Multi-Room Video Distribution System. This feature will also allow simultaneous playback of resolutions up to 1080i from both the HDMI and component outputs. This makes it very easy to share the Vudu with two TVs.

Another Vudu innovation is the addition of their HD and HDX formats. Vudu’s HD format consists of high definition movies that are available for instant viewing. The HDX format doubles the resolution of any other Internet HD video format. This format also delivers audio at a 40% higher bit rate than a standard surround sound DVD. The HDX format also introduces Vudu’s unique TruFilm technology which optimizes the video encoding to produce superior, artifact free playback on larger TVs and Home Theater screens. The introduction of HD and HDX increases the appeal Vudu has as a standard component in Media Room or Home Theater.

Vudu has also made some improvements to their library and purchase options as well. Currently, Vudu’s library contains over 6,900 titles and over 1,100 HD titles. You can also now browse Vudu’s entire library online and choose to have your Vudu start downloading your selection even when you are away from home. This is an outstanding feature as HDX titles require advanced downloading prior to viewing. Once you rent a movie you also have the option to extend the rental period at a discounted price. And you can now rate movies you have watched and view a “User’s Rating” as well as the current “Critic’s Rating”.

With all these amazing additions, I am positive Vudu will have many more surprises in the coming months. As their library continues to increase in size and quality, and features continue to be added, Vudu solidifies itself as a must-have for anyone who craves instant access to media. As previously stated, investing in a Vudu today not only assures you some of the best current technology available, but also ensures that your investment will be just as valuable, if not greater, in the future. I will be sure to watch the development of the Vudu and put together another update in the future.

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