In what appears to be a test to see how well the set-top movie rental box can sell in a mainstream retail store, Best Buy is now selling Vudu in 24 of its California locations, according to Video Business.
The goal is to raise mainstream interest for Vudu, say sources, which is currently at a disadvantage to bigger-branded rival Apple TV…
…At some of the Best Buy locations, the two products appear to be merchandised distinctly from one another. Vudu boxes are being merchandised in four different locations: within Best Buy’s TV sections, in its high-end Magnolia theater rooms, in DVR/new technology displays and near DVD racks. In contrast, Apple TV can be generally found once, near Apple media products.
At $295, Vudu is more expensive than the starting price of $229 for Apple TV and Vudu only handles movies, not music or photos. However, Vudu does 1080p versus Apple TV’s 720p and has a 250GB hard drive versus Apple TV’s 40GB or 160GB drives. Playback time on a purchased or rented movie using Vudu is instant, too. It’s very fast.
I’ve been testing a Vudu box for the past month or so and it’s a great device with a dead-simple interface. It’s great for people who love movies and aren’t necessarily all that technically inclined. It faces stiff competition from Apple TV and, to a certain extent, On-Demand cable programming, but I think that if it’s marketed as a higher end product for a segment of consumers that just wants to watch movies using a box that works right out of the gate, it could have a bright future.