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post #2041 of 2053 Old 02-23-2015, 06:08 AM
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I've always had great experience with Vudu service. I have quite a few Movies and TV Series. Basically the only service I've used that consistently starts in HD and stays in HD. Unlike Netflix or Amazon.
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post #2042 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 05:30 AM
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I recently switched back to the TiVo platform (from Windows Media Center / XBox 360) and started looking into VUDU. I have been ripping my own movies and using Plex Media Server and XBMC for quite a while now, but after one of my hard drives failed several months ago I started to wonder if there was any way that switching to a Cloud source could work for me. The combo of high costs and lack of a universal standard (UltraViolet won't work on my Apple TV and iTunes movies won't work anywhere *but* on Apple products) made the options unappealing to me, but after looking into TiVo/VUDU a bit more, and discovering their at-home disc-to-digital feature, I became intrigued.

One thing led to another and over this past weekend I found myself using the D2D app to convert 30 movies (and adding a few more via codes I had available). The TiVo flavor of VUDU was especially interesting to me since it supports the holy grails of 24p and a possible one-device/input solution for all of my needs.

Of course, when things look too good to be true, you know how that usually turns out. A few issues I've discovered along the way:
- D2D doesn't work for Disney/Marvel movies, some MGM movies, etc.
- D2D doesn't always work for some movies that their D2D web page indicates *should* work.
- Way too many movies listed as being stereo only.
- No indication of aspect ratio on their website and a thread in the VUDU forums suggests that there are, indeed, several movies that severely sway from the original aspect ratio (OAR).

The issues above wouldn't be so awful if there was a clear message from VUDU that these issues are indeed unacceptable issues that they are looking to correct, but the vibe I'm getting from reading their forums is that the company doesn't seem to care.

I discovered the issues above after I spent my first $25 on my first 10 D2D conversions, and those issues didn't stop me from spending another $50 for another 20 conversions, but I'm taking a short break to mull over whether I'm making the right decision to head down this path.

After converting my first batch of movies, I did a couple of brief tests to look at the picture quality. I'm more of a videophile than an audiophile, so I can live with 5.1 audio, but really want very good PQ, OAR, and 24p. I should note that my living room has an Epson 8350 front projector and a very large 2.35:1 screen. It way daytime, so I tested them on my bedroom LCD. As I expected, PQ wasn't up to Blu-ray standards, but it seemed decent, and I was still holding out hope that the convenience factor would make it all worthwhile.

Last night I finally watched my first full movie. It was the "The Mask of Zorro" (1998). This was an older movie, so I wasn't expecting perfect PQ, and was mostly satisfied with the PQ, but I did encounter the following:
- There were a few scenes where things seemed soft and out of focus, but I'm going to try to compare those same scenes against my DVD (standard def only) because I'm thinking/hoping that it was actually a filming issue.
- At two points (one very early on and another closer to the mid point) the audio dropped out *very* briefly. My wife and daughter didn't comment on it, so it wasn't enough to be bothersome to anyone but me.
- The moment I started up the movie it looked like the black/gray levels weren't right. This was a 2.35:1 movie, so it completely filled my screen, with the black bars and transport controls displaying on the black drop cloth I have. The black bars looked gray.

This last one bothered me from the beginning of playback and I kept thinking about it throughout the movie. Again, my wife and daughter were unfazed by it. I was hoping that it might be due to the transfer being old, so when the movie was over I fired up the first Lord of the Rings movie and it appeared to be an issue there as well.

There's still a chance that it was just my imagination or I somehow had my projector settings out of whack, so tonight I'm going to try to compare the Blu-ray version of a recent 2.35:1 movie with the VUDU version. If I see grayer bars on the VUDU version, there's still another possibility before I panic: Perhaps the problem is not with the VUDU movie itself, but with the TiVo Mini and/or TiVo Mini VUDU implementation. I can then compare the TiVo Mini VUDU playback against my TiVo Roamio VUDU playback and VUDU on some other players I may have available (e.g., my Blu-ray player).

I did some Googling on the subject of VUDU and black levels, but didn't come up with much.

Scott R
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I'd much rather watch a great movie in B&W at 240 lines of resolution than a lousy movie in 1080p with lossless audio.
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post #2043 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 06:01 AM
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Thanks for the very thorough and thoughtful post, Scott. It made me think how important physical media remains for us videophiles. I stream movies for convenience, but stii buy the occasional disc if a film is a favorite of mine.

I'm looking forward to trying out 4k streaming here over the next few weeks after my 4k Sony arrives.
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post #2044 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 06:14 AM
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Here's hoping that Vudu makes the Jump to 4k and that they or UVVU gives an option to upgrade our library. ...I have over 400 hdx movies and 100s of TV episodes, I am a huge fan of the whole system of UVVU, Vudu, CinemaNow,Mgo,Flixster and all the Studios that are participating in the UVVU digital locker...has anyone ever heard anything about them getting together with a plan or model for upgrading our libraries to higher resolution?
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post #2045 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 08:13 AM
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With the exception of Tivo, you and I are in similar situations. After about a year, I'm approaching about 1000 HDX movies, most of which were purchased via D2D. In my theater I'm steaming from the most recent version of the Vudu app. on a Samsung BD player @ 1080p, projecting to a 100" screen with 7.1 sound setup. I've made the following observations:

  • Black levels from the setup above are very close to the BD image from my Oppo BD player.
  • FWIW, Black levels streaming from an older Vudu app. through the "SmartTv" feature on a Samsung UHDTV are "higher" and necessitate different calibration than the image from a BD player hooked up to the same display.
  • From the pricing you mentioned, it appears you're upgrading from DVDs to HDX. (Hopefully you're aware that 10 or more conversions gets you 50% off.) I have found that many older films at Vudu labeled HDX appear to be "up-rez'd" 480, and look no better than the DVD, and maybe worse depending on the quality of your DVD players up-rez'd. image.
  • I've had little or no problems with dropouts, or buffering either. I cannot say the same for Flixter, Cinema Now or Amazon.
  • When a newer encode becomes available to Vudu (to correct OAR, sound, etc.), if you've purchased the HDX version your older version is typically replaced with the newer one. The Fifth Element comes to mind as an example.
  • HDX encodes are capable of looking and sounding (w/DD+) very good. Not quite BD quality, but IMO, more than adequate given the convenience of steaming your collection form anywhere. Interstellar, Oblivion, Guardians of the Galaxy are good examples.
I think one thing to remember is that Vudu doesn't do the encodes, they simply sell what the studios give them. In my experience however, Vudu doesn't do too much to solicit "better" encodes despite complaints. Even with it's flaws though, I feel Vudu is the best quality streaming service out there, and certainly the least expensive when it comes to D2D conversions. As you've said, their in home D2D isn't perfect at recognizing all discs, but in those cases I've used their in store service with great success, though not everyone has the same experience. Anyway, I hope this helps!
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post #2046 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 10:09 AM
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mjmbond,

Thanks for the comments. Glad to hear that you're finding black levels to be acceptable via alternate streaming platforms. Worst case scenario, I can utilize a 2nd/different device in my living room when watching movies on the projection setup, and can live with lighter blacks (if necessary) via the single TiVo in our bedroom.

Yes, I'm aware of the D2D promo and have been converting my movies 10 at a time to take advantage of it. I wanted to focus on my DVDs first, since I have a lot of those where I lack an HD copy, whereas I figured I'd do the Blu-ray conversions later since I either have a ripped copy (playable via Plex or XBMC) or can simply load up the disc if I wanted to watch it.

Can you provide me some examples of movies that look like upscaled 480p? If I happen to have any of those I might want to take a look myself. I don't remember seeing a thread in the VUDU forums about that sort of issue.

One thread I do remember seeing pertained to the issues with converting movies in-store. Supposedly Walmart's newer system has broken their ability to do that. Can you comment on that?

One last note: I joined their forums on Friday and started up a new post as well as replied to an existing post. I received a message that the mods needed to approve my messages (presumably because I had just joined) but they still haven't shown up, so that sucks.

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post #2047 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srauly View Post
mjmbond,

Thanks for the comments. Glad to hear that you're finding black levels to be acceptable via alternate streaming platforms. Worst case scenario, I can utilize a 2nd/different device in my living room when watching movies on the projection setup, and can live with lighter blacks (if necessary) via the single TiVo in our bedroom.

Yes, I'm aware of the D2D promo and have been converting my movies 10 at a time to take advantage of it. I wanted to focus on my DVDs first, since I have a lot of those where I lack an HD copy, whereas I figured I'd do the Blu-ray conversions later since I either have a ripped copy (playable via Plex or XBMC) or can simply load up the disc if I wanted to watch it.

Can you provide me some examples of movies that look like upscaled 480p? If I happen to have any of those I might want to take a look myself. I don't remember seeing a thread in the VUDU forums about that sort of issue.

One thread I do remember seeing pertained to the issues with converting movies in-store. Supposedly Walmart's newer system has broken their ability to do that. Can you comment on that?

One last note: I joined their forums on Friday and started up a new post as well as replied to an existing post. I received a message that the mods needed to approve my messages (presumably because I had just joined) but they still haven't shown up, so that sucks.
Recent examples (in my experience) of "HDX" that I believe are simply up-scaled 480p (or worse) that come to mind: A Simple Plan, About Schmidt & Before Sunset. There are many...

As far as in-store D2D my experience has been quite good. My local store has at least 4 employees working in their electronics area that know the drill quite well. I converted several discs just last week, so the program is still going strong, at least in my area. Some have complained that their newer "Fuji" system has messed up the ability to get discs converted. I asked about this at my store and they were not sure what I was talking about. They said that they use a Fuji system in the photo area, but my D2Ds are being converted at a workstation in the electronics area.
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post #2048 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjmbond View Post
As far as in-store D2D my experience has been quite good.
...
They said that they use a Fuji system in the photo area, but my D2Ds are being converted at a workstation in the electronics area.
Good to know. I'll have to check with the people in the electronics department of my local Walmart to see what they know about the process. Can you tell me more about the discs that you've been unable to convert at home but successfully able to convert in-store? I've found that if you go to the D2D page on VUDU and start to type in a title name, it should only auto-complete titles which are eligible for D2D (as opposed to every movie they have available to rent/buy from VUDU). I've only run across three discs so far that showed up in that D2D search box but would not work via the app: Gladiator, Far and Away, and Schindler's List (all are DVDs). And I suspect that the problem may be due to there being multiple versions of those movies out in the wild, so they may not have every variation in their system.

I assume that you've *not* been successful in getting movies converted in-store which were *not* showing up in that D2D page search box. Because I have quite a few of those which I'm assuming I simply won't be able to convert and would need to purchase the title at full price via the VUDU site (or by getting a hold of a digital copy code).

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post #2049 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by srauly View Post
Good to know. I'll have to check with the people in the electronics department of my local Walmart to see what they know about the process. Can you tell me more about the discs that you've been unable to convert at home but successfully able to convert in-store? I've found that if you go to the D2D page on VUDU and start to type in a title name, it should only auto-complete titles which are eligible for D2D (as opposed to every movie they have available to rent/buy from VUDU). I've only run across three discs so far that showed up in that D2D search box but would not work via the app: Gladiator, Far and Away, and Schindler's List (all are DVDs). And I suspect that the problem may be due to there being multiple versions of those movies out in the wild, so they may not have every variation in their system.

I assume that you've *not* been successful in getting movies converted in-store which were *not* showing up in that D2D page search box. Because I have quite a few of those which I'm assuming I simply won't be able to convert and would need to purchase the title at full price via the VUDU site (or by getting a hold of a digital copy code).
My MO is to print up a D2D list from Vudu's in-store conversion website and take that into the store. When you save discs on that site after logging in, the list appears on the employee login at Walmart, thereby making the conversion(s) very fast. They'll simply verify the discs physically and you're good to go.

The system is a bit buggy, but generally, if you can create a list online with the title on it you'll have no trouble converting it in-store. Remember, D2D titles must be UV compatible. Not all titles Vudu sells are UV compatible. There are many titles that are D2D compatible but don't work with the in-home app., so get used to that, and remember that it's nice to have an in-store option when in-home conversion doesn't work. CinemaNow & Flixter also have in-home apps where some titles that Vudu doesn't recognize can be converted, but those retailer usually cost more. Also, sometimes the other retailers allow for conversion on UV titles where Vudu doesn't. Cloud Atlas was D2D w/Flixter, but not Vudu.

Last edited by mjmbond; 03-23-2015 at 06:06 PM. Reason: Clarity
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post #2050 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 03:07 PM
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My MO is to print up a D2D list from Vudu's in-store website and take that into the store.
Not sure if this was a typo or if I'm misunderstanding. What do you mean by "Vudu's in-store website"?

Scott R
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I'd much rather watch a great movie in B&W at 240 lines of resolution than a lousy movie in 1080p with lossless audio.
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post #2051 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 05:33 PM
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Not sure if this was a typo or if I'm misunderstanding. What do you mean by "Vudu's in-store website"?
It's a site they've created for the purpose of converting in-store. Here's the link:

http://www.vudu.com/disc_to_digital.html
  • Login
  • Search for eligible D2D titles
  • Add your titles to the list
  • Print the list
  • Take your discs and your list to the store
FYI, the 50% off discount doesn't apply to in-store purchases.
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post #2052 of 2053 Old 03-23-2015, 06:50 PM
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It's a site they've created for the purpose of converting in-store. Here's the link:

http://www.vudu.com/disc_to_digital.html
Ooh, thanks. I didn't know about that page.

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post #2053 of 2053 Unread Today, 10:47 PM
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HDX rental prices are now the same as other services, ie, 5.99 for major new releases. Was surprised it took this long!
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