Set-top box movie service Vudu already targets the home theater crowd with its higher end XL offering, but now the company is taking up a notch with the release of the Vudu XL2.
Described as being “designed specifically for professional home theater installations”, the XL2 sports an aluminum case that houses a 1U rack mountable unit, uses the “highest quality components”, and like its XL sibling, features a terabyte of storage — enough to store more than 500 standard definition movies. Other high end features include IP and IR control to allow the XL2 to be integrated into “most high-end home control systems”, along with 1080i HD output over component, and the ability to route and switch HD signals through the home with the use of off-the-shelf video switchers. The result, says Vudu’s Tony Miranz, makes the XL2 a home theater installer’s “weapon of choice”. At a premium price, of course.
The Vudu XL2 will be listed at $1,299 and is available today exclusively through more than 1,000 Vudu-certified custom installers, says the company.
It’s interesting to see Vudu continue to pursue the high end home theater market, a natural fit, in terms of the company’s recent focus on HD content. It also helps to differentiate Vudu’s offering, on a hardware level at least, from competitors such as TiVo, Apple and Microsoft. But does that make it the right strategy?
Not if the company still has ambitions of reaching a mass market, something I think it will have a hard time doing until it switches to a more compelling business model whereby, instead of increasing the cost of the set-top box, the hardware should feel like it’s “free”.
As I’ve previously suggested, this could either be achieved by switching to a Netflix-like subscription service or offering cash back in the form of a voucher that can be redeemed for Vudu content, an idea the company has already been experimenting with in conjunction with Best Buy.