Vudu's Internet video-on-demand service will be coming to select LG TVs in August. The service will effectively embed the functionality of the Vudu BX100 set-top box into the televisions, obviating the need for connecting an external box to access the Vudu's lineup of movies and TV shows, hundreds of which are available in HD video and 5.1 Dolby surround sound.
Vudu had previously announced a deal with Entone earlier this year, but the LG deal offers a more mainstream and widely available avenue for the company as it shifts from a standalone hardware maker to a video service provider. Vizio, for instance, had previously listed Vudu as one of several media providers for the "Vizio Internet Apps" that are slated for its upcoming VF552XVT model, but it has yet to provide additional details.
The Vudu feature will appear on LG's "Netcast" TVs, which currently includes the LH50 LCDs and the PS80 plasmas. It will join the already strong interactive features on those sets, which include Netflix, YouTube, and Yahoo Widgets (read David Katzmaier's review of the LG 47LH50 for details).
Vudu claims that the embedded version of its video client will offer the same features and performance as the BX100 set-top box. That unit's HDX 1080p video is the best Internet video we've seen to date, but it requires pre-caching on the BX100's built-in hard drive on all but the highest bandwidth broadband connections. We'll be curious to see if Vudu and LG can deliver a similar experience without the ample storage space.
The LG/Vudu deal is merely the latest example of TVs and consumer electronics offering increasingly sophisticated Internet media options. In recent weeks, Sony has announced that it's bringing Netflix to some TVs, while rival Samsung will be adding Blockbuster. Roku's $100 Digital Media Player is expanding beyond its current Netflix and Amazon offerings to deliver Mediafly and Blip.tv content, with the promise of even more coming later this year. Netflix and YouTube streaming, meanwhile, is available on an increasingly wide array of TVs and Blu-ray players as well.