Print 45 comment(s) - last by Moishe.. on Nov 26 at 1:04 PM

Blockbuster 2Wire Set-top Box  (Source: Blockbuster)
Blockbuster has teamed up with 2Wire for streaming MediaPoint player

Movie rental services are slowly transitioning from the DVD rentals that launched the market to streaming rentals. The streaming rental services are becoming more and more popular as movies are available on the first day of release and people become accustomed to watching films with set-top boxes.

Blockbuster and 2Wire announced today that they have teamed up to offer a new digital media player that allows streaming of rental movies from Blockbuster. The player is an on-demand video solution that offers connectivity options like HDMI, component, and composite.

Audio output is via Toslink and the system ships with a remote control. Physically the MediaPoint player is small at 8-inches x 8-inches x 1-inch making it roughly the size of the Apple TV hardware. Network connectivity options include Ethernet and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity.

Blockbuster says that the image is DVD quality and Blockbuster says that HD video content is supported as well. The device downloads films that can be watched immediately or saved to watch later. Full control over films is features with fast forward, rewind, and pause.

"The MediaPoint digital player, featuring BLOCKBUSTER ONDEMAND, is entertainment made easy. We are bringing Blockbuster, and the thousands of movies in our digital library, straight to customers' televisions," said Jim Keyes, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO. "The player is simple to use, delivers DVD quality video, and there's no monthly subscription commitment. We are delighted to team with 2Wire to give consumers this great entertainment product."

Perhaps the best news about the device is the price. The Blockbuster player is free, but users have to buy 25 movie rentals up front at $99. After the 25 movies have been viewed, additional rentals start at $1.99. New release movies are promised to hit the device in about 30 days, which will be the biggest issue many movie fans have with the player.

Apple offers many movies on its Apple TV rental service on the day they launch. Blockbuster is no doubt worried about cannibalizing its in store rental service. The Blockbuster device will also compete directly with the Netflix Roku set-top box introduced in May 2008.

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Wrong choice for blockbuster
By SunAngel on 11/25/2008 2:22:30 PM , Rating: 5
... and there's no monthly subscription commitment

What makes Netflix WatchNow so popular is its all-you-can-eat plan for a set price. For the life of you and me I can not understand why Blockbuster continues to ignore this.

I wish Blockbuste all the success due to them but they just keep shooting themselves in the foot.

Don't you agree?

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By Yames on 11/25/2008 2:40:43 PM , Rating: 2
I depends on how much you will use it. Without doing the exact math, Netflix seems to to be a better deal for customers who watch more than 8-10 movies a month.

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By Spivonious on 11/25/2008 3:07:40 PM , Rating: 5
Netflix costs $9/month.

Blockbuster on demand will cost $2/movie. If you watch more than 4 movies, you're ahead with Netflix.

The great thing about Netflix's streaming service is that I can watch a movie for 20 minutes, decide it stinks, and go watch another movie. With the Blockbuster system as described, I'd have spent $2 for a movie I didn't like.

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By therealnickdanger on 11/25/2008 3:23:48 PM , Rating: 3
I pay $9.99/month (8.99 plan + $1 Blu-Ray upgrade). I get one DVD or Blu-Ray (of available) at a time plus all the movies and TV shows I can stream (including HD-streaming on my 360).

Blockbuster's plan is terrible. I refuse.

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By Spivonious on 11/25/2008 3:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. The only thing BB had going for it was the return-to-the-store-and-get-a-free-rental. Once we moved to where there wasn't a BB down the street that stopped adding value. We switched to Netflix, saved $1/month, and get instant streaming too (not to mention a vastly larger selection of titles).

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By UNHchabo on 11/25/2008 7:09:51 PM , Rating: 3
Personally, I just get my movies from the library; that way I don't pay a dime for them.

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By feraltoad on 11/26/2008 5:33:49 AM , Rating: 1
I hope you don't use the same strategy for your porn. :)

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By CZroe on 11/25/2008 3:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
You're forgetting a usage scenario where we don't have enough info to make a call. When I rent a movie, I might watch it a couple times before I take it back or I might call a friend over to watch again if I thought they would enjoy it. This device "preloads" the video so that it can be watched when you want, so I assume there is a time period during which you can re-watch the video (24hrs perhaps?). If not, then the NetFlix model is the only way to go...

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By kattanna on 11/25/2008 3:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
actually i think it is the perfect choice for them

but then again, im not overly fond of them.

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By AlexWade on 11/25/2008 9:03:28 PM , Rating: 2
I wish Blockbuster NO success. I still have to forgive them for charging me a late fee for being 1 minute late.

But since Blockbuster is dying at the right time, maybe they can get a bailout.

RE: Wrong choice for blockbuster
By djc208 on 11/26/2008 8:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
I imagine they'll eventually offer a similar plan.

The advantage here is that it takes the sting out of the purchase. It's not viewed as $99 for the player plus a subscription. It's 25 rentals for $99 and the player is free. Works for cell phones, I imagine you'll get people going for it for the same reason.

The bad part is the 30-day delay for new releases. I can't see how this is a issue with the store rentals, I don't think this would steal those rentals. The people who are using these services are probably being stolen from the cable or satalite rental programs vice store rental.

I must be old...
By Motoman on 11/25/2008 3:28:16 PM , Rating: 4 know, I just can't get into the mood of this kind of thing. When I want a movie, I buy it on DVD. Usually when it's less than $15. Then I *own* it, and I can re-watch it as many times as I want.

I don't know...I guess I just like owning the disk and having it physically in my posession. Paying even $2 for a single showing almost seems like a waste of money.

RE: I must be old...
By MScrip on 11/25/2008 4:02:20 PM , Rating: 1

Paying even $2 for a single showing almost seems like a waste of money.

Where have you been in the last 20 years? That's called renting! So you only buy movies in order to watch them? You never rent? Damn! That must get expensive... or else you don't watch many.

I pay $20 a month for Netflix. And let's say I get 12 movies a month. I watch them and return them. That's how rentals work. If I had paid $10 for each, it would be $120.

I like renting... I use Netflix for back-catalog and TV shows.. and Redbox for new releases. Redbox is only a dollar, and I can reserve it and pick it up in the store.

RE: I must be old...
By Motoman on 11/25/2008 10:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
...actually, yes - I never rent anything. And my DVD collection isn't huge...I guess I'm kind of picky. And I watch my movies many times...a couple years go by, and I think "I should watch <whatever> again."

RE: I must be old...
By Vinny141 on 11/25/2008 4:11:13 PM , Rating: 1
by Motoman on November 25, 2008 at 3:28 PM
... When I want a movie, I buy it on DVD. Usually when it's less than $15. Then I *own* it, and I can re-watch it as many times as I want......

which, for 95% of the DVD's i buy, IS NEVER AGAIN. Renting and Video on Demand is the way to go for me.

Also, don't forget that all the DVDs you buy will be obsolete in foreseeable future. ever heard of Blu-ray and HD?

RE: I must be old...
By TheSpaniard on 11/25/2008 4:26:59 PM , Rating: 4
really? last time I put a DVD into my blu-ray player it started the movie just fine...

RE: I must be old...
By Motoman on 11/25/2008 10:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding. I may upgrade to Blu-Ray at some point - but right now, I don't think there is a point.

RE: I must be old...
By therealnickdanger on 11/25/2008 11:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
I would invite you over to my home theater to SHOW you why Blu-Ray roxxorz... but that's just creepy.

Blu-Ray + 1080p display + HD-audio receiver + great speakers = technorgasm.

DVD looks and sounds like VHS now...

RE: I must be old...
By Motoman on 11/26/2008 12:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
I have a Pioneer Elite DVD changer, a Pioneer Elite HD reciever, a 7.1 Klipsch speaker setup, and a 55" Mitsubishi Platinum projection TV...1080i. Frankly, I can't imagine it getting any better...certainly not better enough for me to plop down $150 for a new Blu-Ray player and 2x as much money for the movies I want. Watching movies on my setup is mind-blowing as it is...I have no faith that B-R would be appreciably different.

RE: I must be old...
By afkrotch on 11/26/2008 8:32:16 AM , Rating: 2
Have the same crap going on. DVD still looks fine, so does blu-ray. I still buy both and would hardly say that dvd looks like vhs now.

RE: I must be old...
By Darkk on 11/26/2008 12:34:25 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, same here. I too buy movies on average two a month. Usually on Blu-Ray if it's on sale otherwise I get em on regular DVDs since my PS3 up-converts them to HQ.

I am concerned though the physical media might be a dying breed as more and more people are getting or have broadband connections. If Comcast continues their download cap it will choke digital streaming for awhile.

Right now I like to own a DVD/Blu-Ray and add them to my vast library collection so this is the best option for me.

RE: I must be old...
By Moishe on 11/26/2008 1:04:34 PM , Rating: 2
wow, and blu-ray discs are so expensive. Makes renting all the better for getting entertainment for cheap.

RE: I must be old...
By Moishe on 11/26/2008 1:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
at $2 I'd have to rent a movie 5+ times to have the purchase be economical.

I RARELY watch anything 5+ times, which means I only buy movies I consider to be really, really good.

On top of that, Netflix or some rent@Home plan is perfectly convenient and cheap. I know some people like having the movie, but I don't care as long as I can watch it. by far the vast majority of movies are not worth watching more than once.

By dreddly on 11/25/2008 2:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
I am already maxing out my limit on bandwidth with heavy browsing and very careful downloading - how will this work with ever-more restrictive ISP's?

RE: Bandwidth
By Screwballl on 11/25/2008 3:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
It won't... the ISPs with restrictions do not care, they want more of your money, even if you use your connection for 100% legal purposes.

So your choice would be to get a business connection with no limit, or use Blockbuster/Netflix to watch movies the old fashioned way: by mail or brick and mortar stores.

RE: Bandwidth
By arazok on 11/25/2008 3:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that these VOD systems have not hit a critical mass. Once the masses get into VOD, competition will force ISP’s to upgrade their networks and lift the caps.

Until then, it’s more profitable to ignore the 5% of your customers demanding better service then it is to upgrade your network to handle them.

RE: Bandwidth
By EntreHoras on 11/25/2008 5:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that these VOD systems have not hit a critical mass. Once the masses get into VOD, competition will force ISP’s to upgrade their networks and lift the caps

Ahhhh... Wishful Thinking!

RE: Bandwidth
By Jovec on 11/25/2008 7:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, definitely. ISPs want a piece of your (ever increasing) content money we spend online, not connection money.

RE: Bandwidth
By StevoLincolnite on 11/25/2008 10:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
In Australia which is the "home" of restrictive ISP's where generally such services are recognized by an ISP and added as "Free Quota" in a "Freezone" iiNet does this with Xbox Live! and Youtube plus Gaming Servers etc, thus your not limited to a "Business" connection, but you have to "Shop around" for a good deal that suits your needs, if you want to change providers, just churn.

By Murloc on 11/25/2008 3:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
nice but can it play crysis?

Anyway, I don't think wireless connection is a good deal for such devices, it's far too unstable to watch television, and quality deteriorates imho, because some squares appear when there's some lag.

RE: Wireless
By Spivonious on 11/25/2008 3:11:30 PM , Rating: 3
From the article it sounds like the device will download any queued movies so they are ready to watch later. I don't think very many people have enough bandwidth to stream an HD movie, even with H.264 compression.

RE: Wireless
By therealnickdanger on 11/25/2008 3:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
Eh? I stream HD movies and TV shows all the time as do many people. Those are highly-compressed 720p. Most people don't have the bandwidth to stream 1080p Blu-Ray-quality HD - that's true - but there isn't even a service for that at the moment anyway.

RE: Wireless
By Spivonious on 11/25/2008 3:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
I was basing my statement off the default bitrate for H.264 (1.5Mbps). 768Kbps DSL and below are all not enough for streaming HD. I assume that most people don't have the bandwidth.

another box
By tallredeye on 11/25/2008 4:40:02 PM , Rating: 2
Yet another box. My TV ran out of input connectors long ago.

RE: another box
By StevoLincolnite on 11/25/2008 10:46:42 PM , Rating: 2
You can buy devices which you plug into the back of your Television, which will support several devices to be plugged into it, then by flipping the switch on the device your changing which device is in focus on your Television. (I forgot the name of it).

RE: another box
By afkrotch on 11/26/2008 8:20:25 AM , Rating: 2
Ya, it's on the tip of my tongue too. It like...switches the inputs going to the tv. Damn, what's it called.

Apple TV?
By novacthall on 11/25/2008 2:13:02 PM , Rating: 2
Is Apple TV really a factor in the marketplace at the moment? I'm not being asinine, I just hardly ever see anything about it.

RE: Apple TV?
By Motoman on 11/25/2008 3:26:26 PM , Rating: 2

re: picture quality
By joeld on 11/25/2008 2:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
Blockbuster says that the image is DVD quality and Blockbuster says that HD video content is supported as well.

Does this mean that even HD content downloaded will be converted to dvd quality? With the inclusion of an HDMI port, surely not, but I have to ask.

RE: re: picture quality
By Screwballl on 11/25/2008 3:09:16 PM , Rating: 2
I would assume so...
The netflix site says that lower bandwidth connections (I assume ones such as 1Mbps DSL) shows quality about on par with a VCR recording or good cable show versus a higher speed connection (over 3Mbps) will show it at "near-DVD" quality.
There would be no way that Blockbuster or its affiliates can promise HD quality movies over a 768Kbps DSL connection unless you wait 2 hours for it to "preload" the movie and data, and then hope it is finished by the time the movie itself is done.

Netflix Wins Again
By feraltoad on 11/26/2008 5:31:06 AM , Rating: 2
The Netflix Stream box only requires you to have a Netflix subscription. Although it does cost $99, it is the same start-up cost and then you don't have to keep paying for your movies. Plus, HD should eventually come to this little box, albeit not at an optimum quality.

Any Netflix disc mailing plan over $9 gets you unlimited streaming of almost 10,000 titles.

I think I might have to nix my current BB subscription, the immediacy of renting seems less immediate when compared to 'on demand'. I just wish you could have downloadable HD in full quality as an option, they could even have a BYOD eSata port that would let you opt in for this type of service to keep the cost of the STB down. You could queue up a few movies on a 1 TB drive, and I wouldn't mind waiting for a full-quality HD movie. I already have to wait for the mail anyway, or hope the store has a copy and that the copy is in the store. Plus, movies could preload and then unlock on the release date. However, I bet ISPs would sure mind if I was eating up all that bandwidth that I pay for!

RE: Netflix Wins Again
By afkrotch on 11/26/2008 8:29:28 AM , Rating: 2
For those with an Xbox 360 and hard drive, there's no need for a stream box. Not to mention the regular Xbox Live rentals for SD/HD movies.

I'd still stick with a regular brick and mortar rental location though. Rent a movie, rip it, then return the movie. Can't imagine either VOD being better than that.

let us step into the way back machine
By the goat on 11/25/2008 2:55:36 PM , Rating: 3
Movie rental services are slowly transitioning from the DVD rentals that launched the market. . .

The movie rental business was launched with DVD's? What are you smoking? BetaMax, VHS and Laserdisc were all huge in the rental business. Personally in my lifetime I have rented more VHS tapes and more Laserdiscs then DVD's.

By gochichi on 11/25/2008 4:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
DVD players!

What's with the incessant desire to keep finding ways to kill DVD players without actually besting them?

I hope Sony wises up and seeks new partners for Blu-ray rentals. Blu-ray rentals should be about $2.00 and readily available. Blu-ray needs to be an even swap for DVD technology. The players are now $200 or below and the main problem now is the rental distribution. There are even getting to be some decent bargains for buying the disks.

With everything else being "DVD quality" (or less) I very much doubt that Blu-ray disks will become obsolete for years and years.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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