Which Streaming Service Is Best?

Our definition of television has changed over the years. It used to be that you could only watch TV on your TV. If you wanted to watch a movie back in those primitive days you actually had to drive all the way to the store to buy or rent a DVD. Thanks to high speed internet we can now stream movies and TV from the cloud to all sorts of devices from phones to computers (and yes, even on your TV). Now that video streaming has proven to be insanely popular, dozens of online streaming services have come onto the scene, all competing for your attention and your money. That raises the question: which one is best?

Describing all of the streaming services available would be next to impossible, but here is my top-5 list of the most popular services out there.

iTunes: For the Apple Enthusiast

Like most of Apple’s products, you either love iTunes or you hate it. If you already have apple products, using iTunes is a great way to sync all of your videos, music, and books on all of your devices. And whenever you pause a video, you can keep watching from where you left off, even on a different device. The downside to this service is that it’s only available for Mac products or PC. It also is slower on updating rentals than other providers. Overall, iTunes is a good option for Mac users, but it’s still worth it to explore other options.

Devices Supported: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, PC/Mac

Price: $0.99 for TV show rentals, movie rentals start at $2.99

Selection: iTunes has a good selection for purchase; rentals are updated slower than some other providers

Vudu: For the Videophile

Vudu began its life back in 2008 as a box offering HD movies delivered via the internet. Now they got rid of their hardware and license their service to other devices. If you want only the highest quality content, this is the service for you. In addition to offering 3D content, Vudu also has the highest quality videos of any streaming service. They also have some new movies available sooner than other streaming services. The catch is that this service can get expensive.

Devices Supported: Android, iPad, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC/Mac

Price:$2 for 2 days on select titles, other titles start at $4.99 for HD and $5.99 for HDX (featuring 1080p HD) and usually last for 24 hours

Selection: They have several thousand selections, and most titles are available the same day the DVD comes out in stores

Amazon Instant Video: The Nice Afterthought

Amazon started selling digital media using a download service. They have since switched to Amazon Instant Video and have gone away from downloaded content in favor of streaming. To get access to Amazon Instant Video you can sign up for Amazon Prime, which allows you to access some content for free, after the yearly subscription. Other content can be purchased.

While Amazon’s video catalog is rapidly growing, it’s level of content is still not to the same level as Netflix or Hulu. However, Amazon does have some unique features that are unique to this platform: free two-day shipping and reduced overnight shipping on all amazon prime products and even free monthly book rentals from Amazon Prime Lending Library.

Devices Supported: Kindle Fire, iPad, Nook, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac, and more

Price: $79 yearly subscription for Amazon prime, TV shows start at $1.39 to rent and $1.99 to own, new movies start at $3.99 to rent and $14.99 to own

Selection: They have a fair number of older shows and movies, there is also a good selection of BBC programs. While they have some new movies available to Amazon Prime members, most of them require you to pay for them

Hulu Plus: For the TV Show Junkie

Hulu Plus began as a TV series streaming site and, while they do offer some movies, the reason to subscribe to Hulu Plus is to watch TV shows. The platform offers more TV series than any other service, especially current episodes, and most of this content can be seen commercial-free. Hulu also offers a free service for streaming new episodes of hit TV shows, but it is only available on your computer.

Devices Supported: Android, iPhone, iPad, Roku, Apple TV, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac

Price: $7.99 monthly subscription

Selection: The best selection of TV shows of any provider. Hulu Plus is an especially good choice for those wanting the most current episodes of hit TV series

Netflix: Get a Little Bit of Everything

Netflix came onto the scene over 10 years ago and completely revolutionized video rentals. They have one of the largest streaming content libraries and have millions of subscribers, making Netflix one of the biggest video streaming services out there. HD quality isn’t as high as some providers, but the cheap subscription and availability on almost any device makes Netflix a must-have for any movie or TV lover.

Devices Supported: Android, iPhone, iPad, Nook, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac, and more (really pretty much anything)

Price: $7.99 monthly subscription

Selection: With a large selection of TV shows and a positively gargantuan selection of movies, Netflix has the best overall video selection out there.

VUDU Streaming Movies in 1080p and VIZIO Internet Apps HDTV

VIZIO Internet Apps HDTV offers razor sharp high definition television with advanced surround sound. It’s a perfect platform to watch streaming 1080p movies from VUDU.

VUDU — a leader in the world of ultra high definition streaming movies

VUDU offers a growing number of its high definition movies in razor sharp VUDU HDX format — 1080p video with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound — ideal for watching on VIZIO Internet Apps HDTV. VUDU claims to have the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. In January 2010, VUDU had over 3,000 HDX movies — more than any other HD collection, even Blue-ray. (VUDU suggests that you need at least 4.5 Mbps broadband service to enjoy its streaming HDX movies.) VUDU offers the newest Hollywood releases the same day they are available on DVD. All new releases are available in 1080p HDX.

VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors.

No subscription fee is required — rent or buy what you watch.

VUDU is about to become a subsidiary of Walmart

Walmart sees a huge market for streaming movies and Internet television applications. With its recently-announced acquisition of VUDU, Walmart says it is bringing VUDU’s “revolutionary service,” “digital technology,” and growing HD “library of video on-demand movies” under the Walmart marketing powerhouse. This deal will also allow VUDU to continue to develop and improve its platform.

Walmart will undoubtably give VUDU more marketing exposure to the growing number of potential customers for Internet connected HDTV. Walmart’s claim to “lowest prices” will put price pressure on other content providers, depending on VUDU’s future prices.

The brand new VIZIO Class XVT Series Internet Apps HDTV is available now

VIZIO has become the dominant producer of high quality, affordable big screen TVs. It features user-friendly design and integrated Internet-connected functionality.

The new VIZIO VIA models come in 42-inch, 47-inch and 55-inch models — with 802.11b dual band wireless and Ethernet connectivity. Each set comes with an innovative remote with a VIA button to instantly activate the Internet Apps dock which shows along the bottom of the screen. Choose from VUDU and many other content providers and instantly watch your choice. The remote has a unique keyboard that allows convenient interaction with Internet applications.

With a blazing refresh rate (240 times a second) and advanced brightness and sound technologies, VIZIO Internet Apps HDTV is an ideal platform to enter the age of Internet-connected high definition television.

Are you considering Internet-connected HDTV?

Streaming Technologies For Fun and Education

Streaming, in layman’s terms, is the ability to transfer data from source to destination with the objective of producing a steady and continuous flow of data, resulting in a smooth outcome at destination’s end. Perhaps the earliest form of this data transmission is via the radio. If you had your aerial pointing at just so, you enjoyed good music and clear rendition of the evening news. Otherwise, you were rewarded with white noise or an announcer who sounded like he was having a bad case of the hiccups.

In keeping up with the growth of the internet, this form of technology has become the norm as many users prefer to enjoy music, movies, sports or news online. Downloading hefty files is not preferred due to bandwidths as well as data charges imposed by internet service providers. Whether it is via the computer browser or with the installation of a plug-in, a web user enters a web site and selects what he wishes to see. As the movie is loaded into his computer, he watches it. Whatever excess data loaded and not presented in watchable form is then buffered until needed. If data is not forthcoming quickly enough, the viewer is subjected to a disrupted movie. As such, the servers responsible to convert data for transmission as well as internet bandwidth play crucial roles in ensuring streaming works to its full effect. In order to enjoy high definition quality, data needs to be presented in uncompressed mode. This normally entails a vast quantity of data.

Although the entertainment world is probably the pioneer in pushing this form of technology, many other types of media have joined the foray. Borderless education is now a reality as students who previously had no physical access to latest education materials and techniques are now able to increase their knowledge and exposure. In response to man’s never-ending need to share information with friends and strangers, video sharing websites emerge as the new trend. Whether its purpose is for humor or humiliation, many upload their videos to these sites. Interesting enough, these sites serve as unofficial advertisement or marketing tools for many hopefuls to break into closely guarded worlds of arts and sciences. The power of the word of mouth is amazingly demonstrated as these videos achieve high hits and popularity votes based on the originality of their work.

The medical world has gained significant advantages through this technology as procedures are performed in full view of an internal and external audience. At times, diagnosis and treatments are carried out by lesser experienced staff whilst in the supervision of their more experienced colleagues via live telecast. Sufficient internet bandwidth is an essential factor to support these efforts.