As everybody knows , VUDU annouced her own streaming dongle – VUDU Spark just like Google Comcast and Amazon Fire TV did recently. By noticing the famous “PREFIX", you can easily find out that each dongle has a rich father stands behind it. Google has ECO system advantage, Amazon has on-line stires. How about VUDU? VUDU dongle is now available in 2400 Walmart stores because Walmart acquired VUDU in 2010. So VUDU Spark has off-line store to support it.
VUDU Spark is sold at only $25, it is the most inexpensive product in the market comparing to Comcast ($30), Amazon’s Fire TV ($40), Ruku’s streaming Stick ($50)…etc. However, VUDU Spark is also bundled with $25 credit for movie rental, so it is actually free of charge.
After you open your pack, you can also see a USB power cord and and a RF remote controller. If your TV set does not have a USB port, you can use your mobile phone adapter instead. As to the Zigbee remote controller, it is very convenient for users to control the dongle from 10 meters aways. Even the HDMI dongle is usually plugged behind the huge TV panel.
The playback style of VUDU Spark can be explained by the pciture below. At the upper left corner, you can find out the move title is “Alice in Wonderland". The control bar is placed below and the cyan bar above it is the progress bar. Since the movie almost ends, the bar is also almost full. The center area of the screen is for the (big) subnails. You can use directional keys to browse interested scenes forward or backward, when you press OK, the highlight scene will start to play from here.
At the upper right corn of the screen shot above, you can see VUDU Spark provides DDP and WIFI signal strength indicator, and HDX sign (means higher than HD quality).
Each movie title and TV show has 3 levels of qualities. It all depends how well the WIFI strength is. How do you know that? You can use the embedded Network Speed Test to measure the bit rate from your TV to VUDU servers. Just like it shown in the pciture below.
Then ,what happened if the WIFI quality becomes worse during the playback? In this case, VUDU Spark will try to rebuffering enough data for about 3 times. If it fails too often, system will recommend you to try lower bit rates. The selection button of video quality is the 3rd icon (from left side) of the control bar in the previous picture.
Of course, VUDU Spark is not the only dongle in the market. and VUDU is not exclusively existed in SPARK. But the number of HDMI port of a TV is limited, if user gets used to play VUDU Spark, it will occupy one HDMI port for a long time. That will be good to VUDU. Otherwise, users may also broswse some Netflix, some HULU+, some Youtube,…, this kind of thinking may explain why VUDU is willing to sell this VUDU Spark for “free".
1. Walmart’s $25 Vudu Spark streaming stick is now available to the masses