Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are just a few taps away, but they don't offer movies that have just come out on video. For that, you need a different type of store, which is where Vudu comes in. There, you can buy or rent most new movies as soon as they become available, with prices starting at $4.99. Let's see how Vudu compares to the stores run by Apple, Google, Amazon, and others.
Easy to use: The home screen of the app does a good job of providing options without overwhelming you with them. Sections have sensible titles like "Popular Rentals," Family Favorites," and "99-cent Monthly Rentals." When you tap on a movie, you'll get its important details at a glance: genre, year of release, a star rating, synopsis, and buttons to access the trailer, your wishlist, and social sharing tools. Scrolling down will reveal similar movies you might like, portraits of the cast that you can tap on to see what else they were in, and some critic reviews.
4K and HDR content available: Most digital movie stores are still in the process of figuring out how to deliver 4K streams. Google's own movie rental and purchase store has yet to make this leap, but Vudu is already rolling out 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos, and Dolby Vision, which will give you the best audiovisual quality that you're going to get over the Internet (though not all new movies will take advantage of all of these features).
It's also currently the only video service that offers Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 4K; Disney (the owner of Star Wars and Marvel Comics) has shown disinterest in participating in Apple's initiative to make 4K streams cost the same as the 1080p options, instead opting to not offer a 4K option on Apple's store at all, except in cases like these.
Device compatibility and content downloads to pick up where you left off: In addition to Android and iOS devices, Vudu is available in many smart TVs, home streaming devices, game consoles, and in a web browser (although the browser version requires Adobe Flash, which you may have disabled for security reasons). So you can start a movie on your phone and finish it on your TV, or vice versa. The company has a page on its website dedicated to listing all the compatible devices.
If you want to watch on your phone or tablet, you can download your purchases for offline viewing, so that you don't have to worry about connection interruptions when you're on-the-go.
Integrated with Movies Anywhere: Blu-ray movies at retail stores come with codes that you can redeem for a digital (streamable) copy. In the past, you had multiple online stores where you could redeem codes, which could cause your library to get splintered across multiple apps and websites -- Ultraviolet, the Apple movie store, and Vudu, itself. Movies Anywhere (MA) is a service provided by the major film studios to get all of your redeemed content back under one roof, either in the MA app itself, or integrated into a third-party app, as is the case with Amazon Video. Now if, for example, you redeemed a movie on the Apple store but you no longer have an iOS device, you can load up Vudu or the MA app on your Android device and be able to watch those movies again.
iOS does not allow purchase or rental within the app: While you can watch all the movies that you've obtained by redeeming Blu-ray codes, and you can rent or purchase on the Vudu website to watch within the app, there currently is no way to buy or rent within the app, itself, which greatly impacts practicality and overall appeal. The Vudu app for Apple TV also does not let you buy or rent, indicating that the deciding factor is strategic, not technical.
We did not encounter this restriction when testing on an Android device.
4K can be pricier and inconsistent: Where Vudu does offer 4K, there is a moderate premium (as there is with other competing movie stores). But Apple doesn't charge extra for this, so the more economical choice in the long run may be to buy 4K movies directly from them, to watch on an Apple TV 4K, despite the device's relatively high purchase price. If you're a movie buff, Apple's streaming box can pay for itself before long.
The Vudu versions of 4K movies can also sometimes be missing features, such as HDR or Dolby Vision, when such features are available for the same movies on other services. So you have to check for the HDR and Dolby logos before deciding where to buy, especially if you're paying extra to get the 4K stream.
Vudu's selection should be varied enough for most users, the app is easy to navigate, and you probably already own at least one method of getting a movie from your phone to your TV. But Apple's apparent blockade on in-app purchases or rentals cuts into Vudu's appeal and prevents it from being the one-stop movie shop that it should be.