Walmart Enters Streaming TV Stick Market With $25 Vudu Spark

26 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

$25 Vudu Spark is Walmart’s Chromecast Competitor.

Media streaming sticks like the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV have some more company. I suspect the Germans have a word for taking anything good and then stripping it of everything remotely joyful till it is a cold hollow shell not fit for existence.

GigaOm reports that Walmart is now selling its Vudu Spark media streaming dongle through its online store and “select Walmart locations.” The Vudu Spark, like other, similar dongles from Google and Amazon, is a $25 Wi-Fi-equipped USB device you plug into your HDTV. Since then, the video service has focused on its own mobile and set-top video streaming app … that’s landed on a whole host of set-tops and mobile platforms.

In the years since, the line between retailers and hardware makers have blurred, what with Amazon’s continued push into consumer electronics and Google getting more into the gadget act. If anything, the Vudu Spark’s release is another sign that it isn’t enough to just provide an online storefront—you need to give TV lovers an easy–and affordable—way to watch the media you sell on their big-screen TVs. Once you plug it in and get it all powered up, you’ll use a separate remote control to enter in all the necessary information for things like your home Wi-Fi network and such. In fact, there is only one service — and that’s Walmart’s own Vudu. “Vudu’s app launches automatically as soon as the device successfully connects to a Wifi network,” GigaOM reports, “and there is no mention of any way to load any additional apps.” It doesn’t seem like there will be a big market for Vudu initially; I can’t imagine anyone would buy this over a Chromecast or one of the other do-it-all streaming sticks. That cannot be correct, you are pondering, as properly you must, simply because you live in a globe of rational actors, a pre-Vudu-Sparkian age of innocence.

But in another possibly related cost cutting measure, unlike its competitors, Walmart does not include an HDMI extension cord or USB power brick should you require one. The $24.95 price for this stick isn’t just $10 less than Chromecast but it offers extra value by providing existing customers with $25 Vudu credits once they activate the device.

It is feasible that Walmart, which owns Vudu, thinks that adequate of its billions and billions of customers won’t comprehend that there are other, far better selections accessible. The rest will be familiar to existing Vudu app customers — there’s a large catalog of movie and television content available for rental or purchase, streaming at up to 1080p and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.

Purchased content is synced to one’s UltraViolet library and available to/from other platforms such as Flixter and Walmart will also gladly virtually rip our (supported) discs for content locker access. However, most of the content on the service costs something to access: Anywhere from $1-6 to rent, or up to $15 in most cases to purchase (for individual movies, that is; a TV season could set you back around $25 or so).

I got the following response from Vudu immediately after reaching out for some clarity on the circumstance: At VUDU, we’re constantly looking at new ways for our customers to expertise the motion pictures and Television shows in their VUDU library. When I asked if it would be exclusively Vudu—which, once more, the FCC documents are clear about—the spokesperson stated they’d have extra to share in a few months. Given Vudu’s availability on so many platforms, including Roku, Chromecast, and TiVo plus solid, similar offerings from Flixster and Amazon, it’s hard to justify the Spark.

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