I signed up for Vongo the other nite. On the surface it seems like a pretty good service. I can see potential drawbacks for the average person though. It's owned by STARZ.
They let you download anything you want from thier 1000+ Movie catalog to your hard drive and before it is finished you can start previewing the movie. The movie files themselves are actually DRM protected Windows media files...until the download is finished. Then Vongo does something to the file and makes it not viewable by any other software. This isn't so bad if you don't want to change any video settings like contrast or brightness etc.
Once added to you Library there are no limits on the number of times you can watch a movie....unless it is a PPV movie or the "licence" has expired. What I understand is that Vongo licences movies for the consumer to download and watch. When that licence runs out, you can't watch the movie anymore. They remove it and add another movie in its place, so there is allways new stuff being added. PPV movies start thier 24 hour view limit when you first start viewing it. The movies I chose to download don't expire for 3-4 months.
From what I understand, cancelling the service is somewhat like trying to cancel AOL. I'll have to report back about that though at some other time.
Vongo customers can transfer movies to the new portable media device called the “Gigabeat” from Toshiba. Vongo automatically formats its movies and videos to play back on portables using Microsoft’s Portable Media Center (PMC) 2.0 operating system. So for around $400.00 bucks the addition of the GigaBeast would allow you to watch your movies on the TV. While this may seem cool, there is currently as of today, no support for the IPod or MAC users so they are missing a huge audience it would seem at least for now.
I'm not sure if they really thought this one out...
Vongo allows you to have 3 Registered computers to download and view movies on. If one of those computers just happens to be a laptop with tv-out jack it's possible to view a movie on the TV rather easily. My question here is that to get the same movie available to 3 computers, one would have to download it 3 times. What a waste!
I think that if instead, they could stream a movie from a local computer to be viewed on demand from the "master library" on the machine that downloads, to the other systems on the local network. Adding capability to stream to a UPnP device attached to the TV would make TV viewing rather easy for half the price or less of the Gigabeat.
What I see is that several users may use the movie preview option to view a movie long enough to rent it from NetFlix. I mean really...exactly how may movies can you store on your PC? I have yet to see a way to store the movies on other drives other than the default, Hidden folder called "Content" they use.
The kids were quick to figure out that once you find the file you are downloading you can merely change the file attribute to Read-Only and then Vongo can't do anything more to the file other than remove the .wmv extention of the file. Then one can rename it back and run it through Tunebite which removes the DRM protection and you have a movie that can be played by any Windows Media compatible player. One step further, you can convert the Tunebite file to an MPEG2 file and burn it directly to DVD with any authoring software.
Having to go through this though makes using the NetFlix service much more attractive than Vongo. I suppose though that the Vongo service is actually much better than the STARZ TV package. At least with Vongo, you have a thousand or more videos to watch when you want instead of paying for movies you have entirely no control over the selection.