Vongo: Starz and Microsoft $9.95 per Month Unlimited Movies

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The New York Times is reporting on the announcement of a new unlimited movie download service from Starz Entertainment. The $9.95 a month subscription service called Vongo will allow users to download movies from the Internet for use on their computers, portable video players and TVs.

Starz had previously offered a movie download subscription through RealNetworks but has now switched over to Microsoft. Microsoft will be promoting Vongo in an upcoming release of its Windows Media Player software.

The service is available at Vongo.com and currently offers 800 movies for download at $9.95 a month. Users are allowed unlimited downloads. Movies are in Windows Media Player format, widescreen aspect ratio and approximately 600MB in size. (Example Specs: The Incredibles comes in a 700Kbps bitrate, Windows Media 9, 64Kbps stereo WMA9 audio, and 680x368 resolution.)

According to the article, Starz has not been able to work out an arrangement for Vongo to work on the iPod. As well, at present time the service does not work on Macs, but according to their website:

Vongo is currently PC based, but will soon be Mac compatible (really!)
This service was previously rumored.
 

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jrhone

macrumors member
Jul 22, 2002
69
0
Interesting.....This looks like the Apple vs. Microsoft war will be quite heated this year and will be fought on many many levels. This in my opinion is a direct attack on iTunes and iPod Video....
 

dlastmango

macrumors 6502
Oct 17, 2004
284
188
West Coast - FLORIDA
WOW ... this should get interesting

I see this as M$ trying to beat Apple to something... Too bad apple service will actually work/succeed
JRHONE... sure post something basic to just be first...then go back and add to it... i see how you are... :0)
 

kevinuaa

macrumors member
Jul 25, 2004
72
0
Hawaii
great news

This is great news...competition is always a good thing. This will push Apple to introduce something similiar. When the two compete, we as consumers win.
 

kainjow

Moderator emeritus
Jun 15, 2000
7,745
3
Seriously, once Apple gets their own movie download service, I predict the death of the DVD :D

Now we just need to wait for the hackers to remove the encryption :)

No wonder their site requires Windows.. they use VBScript! :eek:
 

chicagdan

macrumors 6502a
Jan 3, 2002
728
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Chicago, IL
I went on Virtual PC and checked out the website -- what a totally crappy system. It doesn't work on the video iPod or the PSP, only devices that support some kind of MS portable Windows Media player. Dead on arrival.

The battle for portable video is coming down to PSP vs. iPod ... Sony has the better movie player but is clueless how to exploit it. But it still may win because it's ridiculously easy to rip a DVD and format it for PSP. (Equally true for iPod, but the first generation screen can't compete with PSP.) Once dual processors and huge HDs become the norm, everyone's going to be ripping their DVDs and putting time shifted TV onto PSPs and iPods and Hollywood is going to be in full panic.

So rip any DVD you want and keep it forever or pay $9.99 a month, buy an awful dedicated Windows Media player and watch crappy Starz movies. Easy choice. Let's see if Apple can come up with a better third option.

EDIT: The NY Times story notes that Starz will offer the same content to Sony Connect, which means it will be available for PSP in another manner. Sony Connect is such an awful music service, I can't imagine that it's video offerings are going to be any better. I'm tempted to say that a company so big with so many smart people has to get something right some day, but given the horrible and expensive UMD format, the incredibly expensive and unwatchable LocationFree player and the user unfriendly way videos are saved on the PSP, I think BYO content is Sony's best option.
 

mduser63

macrumors 68040
Nov 9, 2004
3,038
30
Salt Lake City, UT
kevinuaa said:
This is great news...competition is always a good thing. This will push Apple to introduce something similiar. When the two compete, we as consumers win.
I agree. If it starts to gain significant momentum, Apple will have to compete and will do something (hopefully) better. Of course if Vongo (or another site) works well and is Mac compatible, I'll use it. It's not like I think Apple is the only company that can do anything right.

I went to the site and put my email in to be notified when a Mac version is ready. I figure that will help tell them that Mac support is important.
 

savar

macrumors 68000
Jun 6, 2003
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District of Columbia
kainjow said:
No wonder their site requires Windows.. they use VBScript! :eek:
Where do they get these names? Vongo? WTF is that?

An iPod version is never coming, let's be honest. I doubt the mac version will even make it. (Unless they introduce a new IE that is required to run it.)

But if people crack the DRM on this like they did with Napster, I would definitely sign up and download a bunch of movies non-stop for a couple months.
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Without the iPod, Vongo will fail, most likely. Ease of use will be very important, as well as portability of the video downloads.

I'd like to see something like this offered by Apple, since they have the foundation in place to make this happen.
 

narco

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2003
1,155
0
California.
savar said:
Where do they get these names? Vongo? WTF is that?

An iPod version is never coming, let's be honest. I doubt the mac version will even make it. (Unless they introduce a new IE that is required to run it.)

But if people crack the DRM on this like they did with Napster, I would definitely sign up and download a bunch of movies non-stop for a couple months.
I'm assuming Vongo means Video on the go. V=video, on, go. Still stupid.

Fishes,
narco.
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
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overall, specs and pricing are impressive.

arn
 

virus1

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2004
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arn said:
overall, specs and pricing are impressive.

arn
no kidding...

i wonder how they pulled that off.. with prices like that, it looks like apple may be able to lower the price of thier hypothetical itunes movie store to $10 a movie..

sweet..:cool:
 

miradu

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2003
39
0
some things to remember

resolutions of the incredibles file is 680x384.. native dvd resolution is 720x480, so this is not much worse in raw resolution than a dvd.. Sound is much worse.. it will be interesting to see how the WM9 compression compares to MPEG2. This is higher quality probs than normal cable tv, which at widescreen is no more than 640x400.
 

After G

macrumors 68000
Aug 27, 2003
1,589
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California
Actually, one can do this with cable and an EyeTV. Just buy an EyeTV instead of a Windows Media player, and you can get movies just like that, transportable to any device. Only costs $150 or so as well, no monthly fees, except for the cable bill, which you probably already pay for already if you have cable.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
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Los Angeles
savar said:
I doubt the mac version will even make it. (Unless they introduce a new IE that is required to run it.)
Why couldn't they issue a player for Mac anytime they want, with any DRM system they want? It's only playing back on an iPod that would require a deal with Apple. Or am I missing something obvious? :confused:
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
14,083
1,417
bad news for Apple... at least with these movies

Several years ago, when Starz renewed its long-term contracts with studios, including those owned by Sony and the Walt Disney Company, to put movies on its cable channels, it bought the rights to use them on the Internet as well. This means that other digital services cannot offer these movies in rental or subscription services during the period covered by the Starz contract.
This ironically seems to include Pixar's movies done with Disney it seems.
 

walkingmac

macrumors 6502
Mar 30, 2003
261
0
Greater Cincinnati
Like most things coming from M$ these days...

First off the starting line, but without any real forethought and/or plan for the future. Props to them for getting it started (I don't know what is holding Apple back) but thats about it. I personally never liked WMP and now that M$ has basically said SCREW YOU to the Apple community by not releasing new versions of their software for the mac and essentially locking them out of third-party offerings because they decided to use the proprietary systems. Maybe it's just my lack of knowledge for the format, but can you even convert those WMP format files to DVD? Surely their is some sort of DRM on these that would inhibit that, until the hackers get involved of course. I know people download movies via P2P all the time and watch them on their computers, but thats not the best, plus there are too few people who have their computers connected to their TV's for movie watching. IDK, I think I would have to go over the rules of use and all that to see how the system works, but I am sure it is not a pleasant arrangement. To me, the thing that needs to happen is a video download service where you can purchase a movie in digital format at DVD quality. Once you have downloaded it, you can of course watch it on your computer or burn it onto a DVD (in limited quantities, 1-3 I think) with complete menus that are included in the download. Additionally, move it to a portable video player like a laptop or Video iPod or alike and so on. All of these an be done with todays current technologies and DRM schemes. The other thing that needs to be done right is to get your computer in to the living room and on your TV that makes sense. Apple is obviously working on that with the initial release of Front Row, but that is just for starters. I left off 'rent' movies from this service, but that could work as well, just makes things a but messier IMHO. Maybe it's just me, but I like to own the media I enjoy and don't like the idea of having to pay to keep it. It's like the Napster Music Service approach, collect your music but be sure to pay us or we will take our ball back and go home. Once Apple has theirs up and running thats when things will get interesting. Not to mention as Apple continues to develop into the living room and we see Mac Mini's as common place in entertainment systems and such, thats when these types of services will take off, when there is a legitimate market and established market. The key there is you need the hardware to work with the software and the equipment. Apple is poised well, they just need to bring it to market and out of the labs. :D
 

chicagdan

macrumors 6502a
Jan 3, 2002
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Chicago, IL
arn said:
bad news for Apple... at least with these movies
Right, which is why Apple has been so aggressive on the TV side, not movies. Just look at the iPod Video -- it's a device made for TV, not movies. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple skips movies for now and pushes to be the time shifting TV king instead.
 

hubristol

macrumors regular
Nov 28, 2005
102
0
kainjow said:
Seriously, once Apple gets their own movie download service, I predict the death of the DVD :D
I dunno about that. I think most people like to own something tangible...at least I know I do.
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
jrhone said:
Interesting.....This looks like the Apple vs. Microsoft war will be quite heated this year and will be fought on many many levels. This in my opinion is a direct attack on iTunes and iPod Video....
If PlaysForSure is any indication of Microsoft's pre-emptive strike, Apple has nothing to worry about. :D

Here's to the Crazy Ones
 

miradu

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2003
39
0
Ok.. So I bit the bullet, and downloaded it to my dell and paid the $10. I rented the incredibles like Arn did.

It's ****tastic. Honestly, the quality is worse that most divx rips. Huge color banding, tons of artifacts, poor frame rate. I opened up frontrow's full streaming trailers, and had my family compare two computer side by side with me.. Frontrow's instant on streaming fullscreen trailers, handsdown beat out the paid for fullscreen downloaded movie. Apple defs has the technological advantage to deliver content. The player is also very slow at launching.

That said, $10 for a ton of movies ain't that bad. I may actually keep it, though not to watch on my HDTV, but more because torrents are blocked at my school.
 

chicagdan

macrumors 6502a
Jan 3, 2002
728
0
Chicago, IL
hubristol said:
I dunno about that. I think most people like to own something tangible...at least I know I do.
Right. I really don't see what's so great about this service. I have Starz on Demand for my HDTV cable, I can watch any of these movies right now in HD anyway ... why would I want to watch them on my PC for additional cost? And if I wanted to put the movie on PSP or video iPod, I could just schedule one of the 10 million Starz channels, copy it on EyeTV and have it for as long as I want. People who have TiVo can do the same and if I wanted to get ubergeeky I could run a firewire cable from my HD DVR to my Mac and record any HD program I wanted in high def by using the DVHS script.

I'm already paying $20 a month for NetFlix, another $12 for Sirius, $100 for cable ... I'm sick of companies charging me for a basket of services I don't use.