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Vudu Ships 1TB Box, Adds Update

3/05/2008 10:46:00 AM Eastern

Santa Clara, Calif. — Internet video download service Vudu said it starts shipping today a 1 TB version of its Vudu set-top box that will store up to 500 standard-definition movies, and announced a software update for all of its boxes that will enable users to archive purchased movies on Vudu servers.

The company said the software update — called v1.3 or Vudu Vault (beta) — will provide a secure storage area for purchased movies off the hard drive of the box onto Vudu servers and allow the deletion of content from the local hard drive. This will help users free up space for additional movie downloads.

Archived titles will still appear in the My Movies portion of the Vudu menu and may be downloaded again at any time with no additional charge, the company said. The function is available only for movies from select studios and all TV shows, the company said.

Users now can also easily permanently delete purchased movies without transferring them to the Vudu Vault, although this would require the user to pay again to view the title in the future.

Movie archiving and deletion are accessed through the My Movies screen. If a title is not eligible for archiving, deletion will be the only available option, Vudu explained. If a title can be archived, then users are given that option. Once archived, the title may be deleted.

Vudu offers a download-to-own or download-to-rent Internet-based video distribution service tied to its special Vudu set-top boxes. No subscription fee is required; users pay to purchase or rent titles as they go.

To speed the delivery of titles to users, Vudu has developed a “distributed network” system that functions in a similar way to peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Movies are delivered in parts from other users’ set-top boxes on the network as well as from Vudu’s servers.

Distribution of hardware is handled direct from the Vudu Web site and through “reseller partners” including Amazon.com, various Magnolia locations and select A/V specialty accounts.

The new Vudu XL, 1TB box ($999 suggested retail) will include new integration options with IP-based home control systems, the company said. In addition an IR receiver kit ($39) will allow both the Vudu and Vudu XL to operate the service using approved programmable remotes.

Other changes include a revised sort functionality that enables Vudu users to have two additional categories by which they may sort the results of movie searches.

Most Watched sorts titles in order of their popularity with Vudu users. Top Picks are determined editorially by Vudu.

Vudu users also can now move from one episode of a TV series to the previous or following episode without navigating back to the season heading, the company said. For example, once on the episode details page for “24” season two/episode three, users will be presented with the buttons “next” or “previous” to go directly to neighboring episodes.