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VUDU starts in-browser streaming, standard def only for now

vuduVUDU might not have the brand recognition that its competitor Netflix does, but with the tech built into a range of HDTVs and Blu-ray players, as well as support for Windows, Mac OS X and PlayStation 3 platforms, it certainly has reach. That reach just extended a little further with the announcement today that the Wal-Mart-owned Video On Demand service will now be available right in your browser window on VUDU.com.

VUDU’s entire library is available for purchase or rental to be streamed into your browser, but there’s a catch. According to the company’s website, movies streamed to a computer are only available in 480p standard definition. Engadget reports that this is due to licensing issues. VUDU was the first service of its kind to offer high definition movies for download, so it’s probably a safe bet that the legal team there is working on bringing full HD support to in-browser streaming.

All streamed content from VUDU will sync up across multiple platforms, allowing you, for example, to start watching a movie through your PS3 in the living room and then pick it up on your laptop in the kitchen as you move to start making dinner. Unfortunately, the website uses a Flash-based player, which creates some problems for the sizable number of Apple smartphone and tablet users out there. The press release makes no specific mention of plans to bring VUDU streaming into the mobile space, but company general manager Edward Lichty certain hints in that direction in a statement.

“Customers will be able to enjoy movies instantly and easily at VUDU.com with no additional hardware or software download required. This launch is part of our overall commitment to provide the VUDU service through as many points of access as possible, offering our customer the latest movies at the highest available streaming quality wherever they choose to watch.”

HD support or not, this is an important step for the company take as a growing number of competing services move to make their content available online.