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Starz Gives Vongo a Makeover

Premium cable programmer Starz Entertainment is unveiling a new, enhanced version of Vongo, its online subscription-video service.

Vongo 2.0 is designed to create an easier user experience for watching Starz movies and other content through the Internet, the company said, and it will work with five new portable media devices. Vongo 2.0 -- which provides more than 1,000 downloadable movies and a live stream of the Starz flagship service for $9.99 per month -- will also be compatible with several new “Extender” devices for Microsoft’s Windows Media Center, making it easier to watch downloaded movies on TV sets.

Enhancements with Vongo 2.0 allow users to resize and pin the Vongo video player in order to watch a movie or concert while doing other tasks on the PC. There is also an improved recommendation engine to make it easier for subscribers to find appealing movies, better device management and better utilization of PC resources with the new software release, Starz said.

Vongo certified five new portable media devices as being compatible with the service: the ARCHOS 405 and 605 WiFi and the Creative ZEN, ZEN Vision: M and ZEN Vision W. Vongo now has seven portable-media-player options, including the previously certified Toshiba gigabeat S and V series family of devices.

Vongo subscribers may register up to three devices, including PCs and portable media players, per each account.

Vongo already works with extender devices for Microsoft Windows Media Center, as well as the Xbox 360 game console, and it will soon be utilized with new extenders made by D-Link, Linksys and Niveus Media. Such devices allow Vongo subscribers to easily play movies and videos on their TVs and stream Vongo content watched in one room from a Windows Vista- or Windows XP-based PC to any room in their house.

“Since Vongo’s inception, our goal has been consistently to provide an entertainment service and ecosystem that allows movie lovers to enjoy content on their terms,” Starz Entertainment executive vice president of advanced services Bob Greene said in a statement. “We are listening continually to our passionate customer base. The top request voiced is the ability to watch our movies on the TV, and the next request was more choices for portable devices. Vongo 2.0, and the associated support for all of these new devices, addresses many of these needs.”