Blockbuster OnDemand Streaming Video Player

Blockbuster has announced a streaming video player made by 2Wire.   This article in Information Week says it competes with Apple TV and NetFlix, but, unfortunately, it completely leaves out the one participant in this space that TelBitConsulting.com uses and loves:  VUDU.

No matter what, the future is clear:  Watching movies via the Internet will happen and may happen, in a big way, faster than I had originally thought.
Gathering some information on the new 2Wire player it looks like it does support HD.  Neither NetFlix nor AppleTV (as far as I understand…can support HD).   It works via a built-in wireless or wired Internet connection.
Here are some specs I grabbed from 2Wire’s Press Release:

Technical Details
In the Box

  • 2Wire MediaPoint Digital Media Player (8″ x 8″ x 1″)
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Power Adapter
  • Composite A/V cable (supports SD viewing)
  • Remote Control
  • AAA Batteries

Video and Audio Connections

  • Composite
  • Component*
  • HDMI*
  • Stereo Audio
  • Toslink (digital optical audio)*

Network Connections

  • Ethernet*
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)

*cable must be purchased separately

UPDATE:  TelBitConsulting.com asked 2Wire a few questions (thank you to 2Wire for their prompt reply):

1. What size hard drives are available?

The built-in 8GB of flash memory can store approximately 5 SD or one HD and an assortment of SD movies at a time, depending on the length of the movies.

2. Can you connect an external hard drive to add capacity?

This is not currently an option.

3. Can a person purchase a movie?  If so will it be stored on the person local hard drive?  Is there a backup or archive capability to save the movies in case the hard drive dies?

At this time, you can not purchase movies through the MediaPoint digital media player.

4. Will Blockbuster make HD movies available?  How many movies are currently on the list?  How many are HD?

There are currently over 2,000 movies available through the ONDEMAND service, including a small but growing selection of HD movies. Blockbuster continues to add SD and HD movies to the ONDEMAND library.

5. Does your unit support 1080p?

Not at this time. The 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player currently supports the following: High Definition – 1080i, High Definition – 720p, Standard Definition – 480p, and Standard Definition – 480i.

6. Does your unit support 5.1 or 7.1 audio?

The 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player delivers stereo sound and supports 5.1.

7. If I want to watch an SD movie, how long do I have to wait before it starts?  HD?

This depends on factors that include the speed of your Internet connection and the length of the movie. For example, with a 3 mbps connection, you could begin watching a standard-length SD movie within 30 seconds to one minute after beginning download.

8. What is the size of your unit?

The dimensions of MediaPoint are 8 in. x 8 in. x 1 in – about the size of a box of movie candy.

9. Do you support HDMI out put to the TV?

A composite A/V cable is provided with purchase. The player does support HDMI output, but the cable must be purchased separately. The HDMI Digital A/V output jack provides digital audio and video signals to a compatible HDTV or HD monitor.

10. Are any currently in use?  Can you tell me how many?  (If not, that is ok)

We are very pleased with the sales figures since the launch, but cannot divulge specific numbers.

11. How is the streaming handled?  From a central location only?  Peer-to-Peer?  Other?

Unlike media players that stream movies over the Internet, the 2Wire MediaPoint uses progressive download to let movie fans access high-quality videos, and begin watching them during download. The video and audio quality is consistent, and does not depend on your Internet connection speed.


TelBitConsulting.com says:  If a streaming player does not support HD….forget it.  To introduce a product in 2008 that does not support HD is wrong.  It looks like 2Wire got it right. I know VUDU has it right….

Summary
The new Blockbuster player from 2Wire is significantly different than the VUDU player.  It is interesting to see how different design directions can be taken to solve a problem.
Engineering at it’s best.
For example, the 2 Wire player was designed, it appears, to watch a movie then that movie is gone.  There is some storage capacity but the smallish 8 Gig flash drive will not allow the massive storage that the 1 TB hard drive VUDU can come with.   You cannot “purchase” movies with Blockbuster, but, that is not surprising since Blockbuster is a rental organization.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years….either way, TelBitConsulting.com thinks this is the way people will be watching movies….as long as the Internet connections stay open…
See all my Blog entries on Streaming Video including a V-E-R-Y detailed review of VUDU.
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