New Bourne released in streaming HD day-and-date with DVD

IPTV service Vudu has announced that The Bourne Ultimatum will be available as a 1080i high-def download today -- the same day as it is released on DVD.

Many studios currently providing content to Vudu also offer support for sites like Movielink, CinemaNow and even Xbox Live HD downloads. But today's announcement marks the first instance of a studio simultaneously releasing a DVD and an HD download.

Santa Clara-based Vudu has many major studios already offering content for download through its broadband-connected set top boxes: Lionsgate, New Line Cinema, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, and Universal Studios. Universal, which has been offering The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy as free HD downloads to new subscribers since October, is the first studio to make downloadable content available the same day as DVDs.

While the majority of Vudu's 5,000 other movies available for download and rental are standard definition, more are anticipated for streaming in HD. Being able to offer a high definition version of a new movie that is not on "format war media" could be very advantageous to participating studios.

Vudu works with P2P technology similar to BitTorrent. When a user purchases or rents a film from the service, the beginning of the movie is streamed directly from Vudu's servers while the rest is downloaded in the background. Streams are MPEG-4 and converted to HD, so only a 1.2 Mbps connection is required for viewing. Faster connections result in no delay.

Primetime network TV content has also been reported to be in beta as of today on Vudu. The first dozen shows include popular programs Arrested Development, Familly Guy, My Name is Earl, and Prison Break.

A Vudu setup can be purchased --in the US only-- directly on and for $399 USD. It comes with "unlimited" storage for rental films, and room for 100 hours of purchased content, supports resolutions from 480i up to 1080p/24, has Dolby 5.1 sound, and has HDMI, component, S-Video and composite video outs. New accounts activated before the last day of the year also receive $50 in movie credits.

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