The Vudu Virtual Reality App Makes Movies Fun Again

Pass the virtual popcorn, please

Key Takeaways

  • Watching movies on a VR headset can be even more fun than using a TV. 
  • Vudu recently released its app for the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. 
  • The experience of watching movies on a VR rig is a great way to shut out the rest of the world.
Someone using a VR headset and headphones with an image of a bridge overlayed on the picture.

Marco_Piunti / Getty Images

It turns out that watching movies in virtual reality (VR) is a lot of fun. 

Vudu recently released its Oculus Quest 2 VR headset app, and I’ve spent way too much time catching up on reruns. It’s one of a growing number of virtual reality apps for streaming services. 

In some ways, streaming shows in VR is even better than on TV. For one thing, unless you have a giant display, the screens in a headset appear huge. Plus, the experience of watching movies on a VR rig is a great way to shut out the rest of the world. 

"If you are willing to forgive a slight fuzziness around the edges, it can be a surprisingly decent experience..."

Vudu You

The Vudu app that you can download from the Oculus store is free and straightforward. It dispenses with fancy graphics in favor of a clear interface that immediately presents you with a familiar lineup of choices like current hits and old favorites. 

Prices of movie rentals seemed comparable to other streaming services like Apple TV and Amazon Prime. I rented a movie with just a few clicks of the controller and was quickly immersed in the experience. 

Several other streaming services are also available as apps to download on the Oculus Quest 2 headset for those who aren’t fans of Vudu. I’ve tried both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on the Quest, and they offer comparable experiences to their tablet counterparts. 

The picture quality on the Quest 2 is surprisingly good for watching movies, although, on paper, it doesn’t match the resolution or crispness of a high-end TV or a late model iPad. If you are willing to forgive a slight fuzziness around the edges, it can be a surprisingly decent experience watching films in VR. 

The same can’t be said of the sound quality, as the speakers on the Quest 2 headset are pitifully weak. Fortunately, a headphone jack on the headset makes it easy to plug in a better sound option. 

A screenshot of the view within an Oculus headset while watching movies or TV.

Lifewire / Sascha Brodsky

Your Own Movie Theater

The experience of watching movies in virtual reality points to the possibility of the devices as transformative for everyday computing. It’s clear that VR will soon not just be a parlor trick for a limited selection of games but could be a superior way of interacting with digital content. 

For one thing, VR is the perfect way to shut out the endless drumbeat of bad news that otherwise rains down on social media and email. I’m as guilty as anyone of double-timing my movie by glancing at my cell phone while watching Netflix. 

The VR headset removes that temptation because it’s just enough of a pain to have to remove your headset to look at your phone. This singular focus is also because VR is not yet very good at multitasking, although that’s likely to change as the software matures. 

Better hardware will also improve the experience. The biggest problem with watching Vudu or other streaming services is that the Oculus Quest 2 headset is big, heavy, and uncomfortable to use for long periods. During long movies, I found myself needing to take a break every half hour or so to give my face a rest. 

Apple is rumored to be launching a slick-looking VR headset next year. Other manufacturers are racing to get lighter and less-bulky headsets to market, which could make VR movie watching a lot more comfortable. 

Another problem is that watching movies with a headset is not a social experience. It can look downright odd to be sitting in your living room with a headset when there are other people around. There’s currently no good way to enjoy movies with friends and family while using VR. 

But what you lose in human interaction, you gain in concentration. Over the last few days, it was a revelation to shut out the world and lose myself in movies for a while. 

Perhaps the last remaining big hurdle with VR movies is snacks. It’s not easy reaching into a bowl of popcorn with a headset on. But I’m sure the brilliant minds in tech are already working on a solution. 

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