Saturday, February 16, 2013
The Vudu that you do
So well, it makes me want to shoop shoop shoop.
I've heard of this streaming service called Vudu primarily from listening to the Filmspotting: SVU (Streaming Video Unit) podcast, in which it's frequently mentioned as one of the places you can get such-and-such a film online. But like some of the other names of streaming services I don't recognize (Crackle), I didn't know what distinguished it or how it worked, and I kind of assumed there would be something difficult about -- some obstacle that left me disinclined to try it.
And I probably -- definitely -- wouldn't have tried it if Netflix carried Mississippi Burning. See, I'm watching Alan Parker's 1988 film as part of a project I'm doing for another blog, but the bright green Save button on Netflix left me scratching my head about how I'd get it to my eyeballs.
Then I remembered the handy website www.canistream.it, which allows you to type in any movie name and get an immediate report about where the movie is available for streaming. Vudu came up when I searched for Mississippi Burning.
"How hard can it be?"
Not very, it turns out, but it did come with an annoying marketing red herring.
See, when I went to the Vudu website, I was met with an advert telling me that I'd get ten free movies when I signed up for the service. Since signing up for the service is free, I thought they must be really desperate to get people to use it. It seemed too good to be true, but I dove in and signed up as quickly as I could.
On the Mississippi Burning page, I saw that I could rent it in any of three formats: Standard for $2.99, HD for $3.99 and something called HDX (I don't know what that is, and I can't be bothered to look it up) for $4.99. I had entered my credit card number as part of the signup, and I expected there to be some indication that I could use one of my ten free movies to buy Mississippi Burning. When that clearly wasn't happening, I decided to go to the help section.
At which point I determined that it's not any ten movies, it's a specific package of ten. They could have teased me one step further by having them be ten downright awful movies, but they're really not. The biggest problem with these ten movies is that I've already seen most of them: Behind Enemy Lines, Ghost, Lethal Weapon, Never Been Kissed, Paranormal Activity, The Perfect Storm, The Producers (2005), Psycho (1998), Valentine's Day and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Of the three I haven't seen (Behind Enemy Lines, Psycho and Wrong Turn 2), it's possible I will eventually watch use Vudu to watch Psycho, but I won't be prioritizing it any time soon. I'm told that these movies change, so if you sign up for Vudu three weeks from now, you may get something different.
The real advantage Vudu has in terms of my own setup is that I can watch it easily on either of our TVs. We have an LG BluRay player in our living room and our bedroom, and both have Vudu as option. That's no given, since I think Netflix may be the only other service that appears on both players. So it worked quite nicely to fire up Mississippi Burning on Wednesday night in our bedroom, and as a measure of how gripping I found it, I didn't start to fall asleep until the very end of the two-plus-hour movie, and only then because it was approaching 11. (The comfort of the bed usually knocks me out much earlier than that. In fact, last night, I fell asleep during the opening credits of the TV show I was trying to watch.)
Verdict on Vudu? Now that I've done the "hard part" of signing up, I will definitely use it again. Sure, my first option will always be Netflix streaming, because I get that free as part of our monthly subscription. But it's refreshing to know that the streaming universe doesn't begin and end with Netflix. As I've found more and more holes in the Netflix catalogue the more I look, it's nice to know that there are other reasonably priced services out there that can fill those holes.
Next week: I see what the deal is with Crackle, because that's the only way I can watch Ishtar, the first movie in my Famous Flops series.