Rdio surprised almost everyone last month when it launched Vdio, a new service for buying or renting digital copies of movies and TV shows. The company announced today that Vdio can now be accessed by anyone in the United States and the United Kingdom, ditching the requirement that forced every new user be a premium Rdio subscriber.
New users can sign-up using their Facebook account or a separate e-mail address, before perusing Vdio’s pretty diverse library of content. Unlike Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, there’s no monthly subscription to worry about. Movies and TV shows are priced on an individual basis, so there’s no ‘unlimited’ package or recurring bill to worry about.
Prices vary depending on the release – buying a film outright can be as high as £9.99 (roughly $15 USD), while renting can fall anywhere between £2.89 ($4.50 USD) and £4.49 ($7 USD).
Most movies and TV shows can be rented, although a quick glance shows that there’s a number of titles that can only be purchased from Vdio. These are then downloaded and dumped into the user’s library, accessible from the left-hand side of the screen, for the user to keep and watch whenever they please.
The setup is similar to iTunes, although in this case the service is entirely browser-based, rather being tied to a native app.
Movies and TV shows can also be added to a custom list, which Vdio calls Sets, for keeping track of favorites or titles that the user wants to watch next. Similar to collaborative playlists on Rdio and Spotify, users can also open up these lists so that anyone can add to them with their own suggestions.
It’s a useful tool if you’re using a single account as part of a large family, or want some new suggestions for those who are up on all of the latest releases. Collaborative lists can be limited to people that the user follows, or opened up to the wider public for some collaborative mayhem.
Although there’s an iPad app, Vdio doesn’t have anything like the same platform penetration of streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. That could change over time, but it means that for now Vdio is relying on its social features as its main differentiator.
There’s no word on yet on when Vdio will be opened up to other markets, but it can’t come soon enough. The revamped Apple TV rumors continue to circulate and this is a key period for Rdio to gain a significant foothold and presence in the market.
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Android home gaming consoles are nearly arriving for the consumer market, but one at least needs a little more time in the oven to bake. It’s the GameStick, the super portable USB-stick style device that plugs into an open HDMI port on your TV to turn it into an Android-powered gaming machine, and its release schedule is being pushed back another month until August, with a retail launch to follow after that, because of a need to gather more feedback related to the GameStick UI so that it can be refined prior to wide release.
GameStick wanted to nail the user experience strikes me as a familiar refrain; another company, Leap Motion, which also achieved lots of support from the community for a novel idea, said something very similar when it delayed its own product recently. In both cases, the apprehension about getting things right the first time around is understandable, since these are products that have few if any antecedents with demonstrated success in the wider consumer market.
The GameStick delay, though another one on top of its first ship date slip, isn’t yet one that should really raise any eyebrows – projects typically underestimate how long it will take to go to market on Kickstarter. The Ouya was also delayed from its original planned launch by three weeks, owing to “demand” on the retail side. BlueStacks’ GamePop hasn’t been delayed as of yet, but it’s targeting a more open-ended end of year launch, and that gives it some flexibility to make sure the experience is just right before putting too fine a point on things.
All of these companies are venturing into relatively uncharted territory, so delays are fine; you can’t hold them to the same standards as an Apple or a Samsung, and even those giants sometimes encounter problems shipping exactly on time. One, two, or even three small delays isn’t surprising; but once the months start to fall away and you don’t hear much, that’s when it’s time to worry.