Netflix ‘Add To DVD Queue’ Feature Removed

Popular DVD rental and movie streaming service Netflix today announced that they were removing the ability to let users add movies to DVD queue from their streaming devices. In a blog post on the company website, Jamie Odell, director of Product Management at Netflix wrote,

“We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.”

The move marks another significant step for Netflix to transform into a purely movie streaming service. However, the removal of this feature has got a number of users unhappy who point out that it will be making it difficult for users to add movies – those that are not available for instant viewing – to their queue.

In any case, it doesn’t look like Netflix will be reverting the change anytime soon. If you were a fan of that feature, it looks like you must learn to live without it.

VUDU 3D Movie Streaming To Start Next Week

VUDU, the Wal-Mart owned internet based movie streaming service in United States will start running 3D movies starting next week. Announcing this on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company has noted that the new portfolio of movies will be available on any of the 3D-supported television boxes without the need for any additional software.

The available screening resolutions will include SD (480p), HD (720p) and HDX  (1080p). The bandwidth requirements for 3D streaming are not too different from those for 2D streaming. Supported devices include HDTV from the likes of LG, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Philips, Toshiba in addition to Sony PlayStation 3, VIZIO and Boxee Box.

The VUDU press release does not give us any details about the new titles on offer. Also, details regarding the price are not available at the moment. We expect the company to make these revelations when they commence 3D streaming next week.

iTunes HD Movies Purchase In UK Now Available

Apple has announced that iTunes customers in UK are now eligible to purchase high definition movies directly from the iTunes store. Until now, these customers were only allowed to rent HD movies. Of course, regular titles that were non-HD have already been available for rent and sales since 2008.

At the moment though, it appears that there are not too many HD titles to go with. Apart from The Twilight Saga : Eclipse, there are not too many popular titles available for purchase in the HD format. This portfolio should expand soon though.

The launch comes after a long wait considering that the sale of HD movies in the United States was made available as early as March 2009. Nevertheless, Apple has been typically slow to bring their products to customers outside the United States and this is not very unusual.

Free iTunes Movie Rental Codes Being Sent From Apple

Apple is reported to be sending free iTunes movie rental codes to users. Not everyone has received it and the recipients who have so far been able to get an email from Apple seem to have been randomly chosen. Cupertino has not let us officially known on why it has chosen to send out these codes in the first place? Is it to give a boost to the holiday season sales? Are sales dwindling on the whole? No word about this.

It is possible for Apple to be sending out the codes to customers who have been affected by slow HD rental downloads. Earlier this month, we had written about an issue with HD movie streaming that caused buffering times of several thousands of minutes to users. Is Apple trying to win back the trust of these customers?

We do not know as yet. Do let us know if you have received an email from Apple in this regard.

New Apple TV Taking Too Long To Stream HD Rentals, Claim Users

A number of users who have purchased the new Apple TV have been reporting that they have been experiencing trouble with loading HD rentals on to their television. Apparently, loading such rentals takes the user to a window that shows a message that reads, “Ready to load in ___ minutes“. While a few minutes of delay is anticipated considering the time required to buffer movie streams, users report having seen time as long as 3000 minutes.

Here are some excerpts from the Apple Support forum

“I wanted to create this topic to ask if others are running into the same issues I am with streaming rented HD movies. I go to play the rented HD movie and am transferred to a screen that says “Loading….” for about a minute or two. Then, that message is replaced with one that says “Ready to play in xxx minutes”…with horribly long times listed (my movie was rented last night, and as of this evening, it shows “Ready to play in 232 minutes”).”

“i’m having the same problem with both HD and standard def movies. At one point, the HD movie was going to take over 3,000 minutes to load. The AppleStore says they will replace my Apple TV with another, but now I’m not certain that the problem will be fixed. I’m using a Comcast connection which Comcast says is high speed. “

“Im seeing some shows downloading fine, while others have massive delays. For instance WKRP episode one started almost instantly, while the new Wolfman movie was 130 minutes delay. To further test my network, while the Wolfman delayed, I opened netflix on the apple TV and ran several movies without issue. This tells me the problem is on Apples end.”

“This is incredible. I am also a victim in the false advertising of renting movies on demand. Has anyone verified that the charge was actually made on the credit card even though the movie never streamed?
Has anyone heard back from apple? What are we to do? “

Some users have reported that they have seen improvements after subscribing to a higher speed plan. But the issue seems to persist for a wide majority of the rest. Apple is yet to acknowledge this issue. We will let you know of resolutions if any when we get to know more about this.

Vudu Movie Prices Slashed To Take On Netflix, iTunes

Movie rental service, Vudu, has launched an aggressive new campaign to take on competition from the likes of Netflix and Apple in the movie rental space by dropping the price of movie rentals to a new low. Starting soon, Vudu customers will be able to rent 4000 popular movies at a price of $2 a movie. That is a pretty steep drop that competitors will find difficult to replicate. These rented movies can be watched over a 48 hour period right from the point of first playback. Vudu movies can either be watched over the Vudu Box or streamed online over televisions and Blu-Ray players with such a facility.

While this is impressive, I am skeptical about the service taking off. Firstly, Vudu has noted that this offer will only last till new year. Considering that a good number of Vudu users will prefer to take the Vudu Box route to watch movies, the investment on a box is high seeing the timeframe of the offer. Streaming movies should however see brisk sales and it will be interesting to see whether and how Apple and Netflix react.

5.1 Surround Sound Coming To Netflix?

Get ready for better experience on the live streamed Netflix movies from later this year. CNET is quoting sources as revealing that a higher 5.1 surround sound and closed captioning features could be offered on Netflix’s HD livestreams from later this year.

However, another rumor surrounding the introduction of 1080p HD streaming went bust as Netflix has denied that this shall be brought to customers anytime this year – An implicit approval of the other rumor however.

Netflix is under intense competition of late ever since Google announced the launch of rental movies on Youtube. Unlike Netflix’s policy to bring new movies 28 days after release, Youtube can bring users new releases thus making it a better option. Better home-theater experiences in the form of surround sound are expected to help Netflix retain the loyalty of their users though it is not known if Google has similar plans for their rental releases as well.

[via CNET]