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Vudu: Another set-top box offering movies on-demand

Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before: there's yet another startup venture offering a box that you connect to your TV so you can watch movies on-demand. Vudu scored a breathless write-up in the New York Times today for a new movie download service they'll be offering something this summer that is long on overblown claims and hyperbole ("This is something that is going to alter the landscape. We are rewriting economics.") and short on realistic analysis of how resistant consumers have been to paying to download movies over the internet. Vudu does have a few things going for it -- they've signed up most of the major studios and have some novel P2P stuff that helps them save on bandwidth costs and makes it possible for users to start watching a film more or less as soon as they've selected it (rather than have to wait for it to completely download) -- but that may not be enough to stand out, especially since they're planning to charge around $300 just for the box itself (which as you can guess, is laden with DRM and doesn't allow transfer to a portable device). Besides, it's already sort of a crowded market when you think about it. Most cable users have been able to get movies on-demand for years, and it's also possible to get paid movie downloads via your Xbox 360, Apple TV, TiVo (via Amazon's Unbox service), and Akimbo, to name a few. They definitely have their work cut out for them, the landscape is littered with companies (Moviebeam, anyone?) that have tried to convince consumers that they need yet another box connected to their TV and failed miserably in the process.