Let me start by saying every device should offer some sort of wireless connectivity, preferably built-in. Research indicates folks are going to connect a limited quantity of devices to their televisions, so it behooves companies to reduce barriers to entry. As to why wireless isn’t integrated into everything: Another chip raises the BOM. And more than the additional hardware cost is the price associated with supporting wireless configuration and performance. While I understand the rationale, I don’t buy it. If you want mainstream penetration, you need to offer WiFi.
Having said that, I’m actually (pleasantly) surprised to see Vudu provide a wireless option – especially since they stream at pretty high bitrates. I’d have assumed they’d play it safe with no remote networking option or, perhaps, Powerline. However, it seems to me that they’re mitigating support costs by selling a pair of wireless bridges to simplify configuration. In fact, at $79 I doubt they’re making any money on these.
Coincidentally, I happen to have a compact ASUS wireless bridge which looks remarkably similar to what Vudu is selling. Setup was extremely efficient and performance (Vudu, Slingbox SOLO) has been rock solid – much more so than the two Buffalo wireless bridges I recently ebayed. And what I find most clever is that it doesn’t require a power adapter (though one is provided) – it’s able to get enough juice off a USB connection, thereby reducing my clutter quotient. I wonder if there’s a way to decouple the Asus Vudu wireless bridge pair… If so, that $79 becomes an excellent value for adding WiFi to two devices (Vudu, Xbox, Slingbox, TiVo, etc).