Blinded by the UltraViolet Promise in Your New Blu-ray Movie

by Barrett

That bonus UltraViolet digital copy in the Blu-ray Disk or DVD isn’t all it’s stacked up to be.

That bonus UltraViolet digital copy in the Blu-ray Disc or DVD isn’t all it’s stacked up to be.

You look at your holiday shopping list and have miles to go before you sleep.
Tick tock.

You start to panic, and your brain defaults to A.G.M. Syndrome (average gift mode):

If you find yourself caring more about the gift receipt than the gift, you know you’re in trouble.

You start to sweat.
And then you have a momentary flash of genius. (low wattage)
How about gifting a movie?
Everyone likes a good movie!
Bingo. Buy the DVD!

(Add this shopping strategy to my Holiday Gift Guide for Home Tech.)

And while you’re at it, you can do the
“One for you/One for me” chant to catch up on all the recent blockbuster flicks.

A few suggestions:

  • “The Dark Knight Rises”- Satisfactorily completes the trilogy
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”- #1 at the box office this year. How can you go wrong?
  • “Thor”- Shakespeare meets Marvel Comics, and it works big time!
  • “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”- not as good as the first, but a lot of great sequences.

But before you whip out your credit card, a word of warning…
(All right… maybe a few words)

The Ball and Chain of Blu-ray
When I say DVD, I’m really talking about Blu-ray Discs.

So I married into the Blu-ray promise (Singing the Blu-ray Blues) a few years back when I bought an LG Blu-ray Disc player for my 42” Panasonic plasma screen, and in a moment of tech insanity also procured a Panasonic portable Blu-ray Disc player for my train commute.

I know. I know-
What’s the point of watching a glorious Blu-ray image on a tiny screen?
(I still got a great deal on Amazon.)

The ball and chain of Blu-ray was securely fastened when I switched my Netflix settings to all Blu-ray all the time.

So I guess I’m committed to Blu-ray for the time being.

Living the Dream with Blu-ray?
But these days, it’s hard stick with one technology for long.
And I’ve found I’ve already wandered.
Like others, I enjoy the simplicity of having movies to watch on my iPhone or iPad.
The digital copy’s the thing.

Digital downloading via iTunes, right?
Lots folks do the movie deal with iTunes, and they’re happy.

Not so fast, partner.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer having the physical Blu-ray Disc to come home to every day. It feels like it will always be there for me.
Media on a hard drive always has the potential to evaporate when the drive decides to stop spinning.

Plus I want all those Blu-ray extras.

Sure, there’s iTunes Extra with bonus content for some of the movies you download, but that doesn’t seem to be as beefy as all the bonus content available on discs.

Having my Cake and Eating it too
So when I buy my Blu-ray Discs, I also look for the version that contains the bonus digital copy as well.
Then I’m covered for all possibilities-
I can watch my movies on my Plasma TV on the weekends and on my iPhone during the weekday train commute.

Usually the digital file isn’t physically on the disc.
Instead, you get an iTunes code for a free download.
How civilized.

If I dare say, it nears perfection.

Of course when humanity nears that condition, someone’s got to mess things up.

UltraViolet’s the Bomb
The movie industry got a bright idea back in 2010.
Hey, what if you didn’t have to download your movies anymore?
That’s such a pain. Right?
Plus we hate Apple getting all that business.
And we’d really prefer you not have that digital copy that you could suddenly decide to use illegally.

What if you could simply go to the Cloud and stream all of your movies up in that happy place we control?

Yeah, baby.
This is gonna change everything!

And UltraViolet was born.

UVVU Redemption StickerThe Promise of UltraViolet
The promise is this…
When you buy your DVD or Blu-ray movie, instead of also having a digital copy or a free iTunes movie download code, you get an UltraViolet (UVVU) digital copy!

You used to get a digital copy.
Now you can stream an UltraViolet digital copy.
That sounds better, right?

Conceptionally, UVVU is a digital locker in the Cloud where your movies are stored.
In reality, you’re simply accessing your licensing rights to stream a movie.
You’re actually getting nothing.

Once you do the UVVU deal, you can ‘always’ access the movie in the Cloud and stream it on any of your connected screens.
(Up to 12 registered devices, which should be plenty!)

Boo Hoo with UVVU
There are a few big reasons why a lot of users are unhappy with UVVU.

It’s Complicated
Different movie studios have their own UltraViolet login sites to authorize your movie purchase. It’s not one-stop shopping.
Plus, you’ve then got to use a separate delivery service like
Flixter or Vudu to play your movies.

The overall experience is not as elegant as simply using iTunes.

Owning vs. Licensing
Your rights to streaming your movies don’t expire… or do they?

Here’s the fine print on UVVU:
“Streaming of a given title from the selling UltraViolet Retailer more than a year after its purchase, or at any time via Streaming Services other than the selling UltraViolet Retailer, may incur fees and if so any such fees would be presented to the consumer in advance of streaming titles, with the consumer having the option to accept the fees or not use that Streaming Service.”

Translation:
Guaranteed free streaming for only one year!

Uhhh… isn’t that a deal breaker right there?
Would you rather own a digital file forever for no additional cost or license it for free for just a year?

Exactly.

Streaming Limits
The whole UltraViolet deck of cards relies on a healthy web connection.
You need to be tethered to a cable or strong Wi-Fi link to actually stream anything.

That’s fine when you’re at home, but what about when you’re on the go?
Sure you can stream through your smart phone’s data plan, but if you have a plan with limits, that can quickly become expensive.

And what if you’re on a plane or a commuter train travelling through spotty coverage?

Sorry Charlie.

Can you Download?
Yes, there is a download option for Apple and Android devices, which you can then watch on a Flixter app, but
UltraViolet really doesn’t integrate with iTunes and the Apple ecosystem.
(What an inconvenient coincidence.)

UltraViolet is Killing my Joy
I’m not alone. UltraViolet’s reviews are mixed at best.

Personally, I’ve really got no interest in slogging through the UltraViolet setup workflow.
But an increasing number of studios have switched to UltraViolet for their digital copy solution.

What’s a movie lover to do?

For now, I’ll continue to seek out non-UltraViolet packaging with my Blu-ray purchases, but I expect to be disappointed.

UltraViolet Combo PackCase in point-
Both “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “The Dark Knight Rises” are currently on my Blu-ray shopping list to add to my tool kit
as a Road Warrior on Metro North.
But, of course, these Blu-ray Discs are only available with the UltraViolet option.
Oh-No!!!!

Good Bye Blu-ray too?
So unhappily, I’ve got a choice in front of me.
I’m already on the fence with Blu-ray, because of my current priorities leaning towards portable viewing.
This UltraViolet debacle has only further destabilized my commitment to disc.

Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Blu-ray and embrace an all-digital HD media library.
One that lives happily on home soil.
Not only up in the Cloud.

And for me, that still means with iTunes.
(I’m sure the movie studios’ market research didn’t predict this reaction!)

The Blip
But hey, I guess I’m just an atypical consumer who illogically wants convenience and simplicity when using purchased media with my home tech.
(and legally, I might add)

A statistical aberration I am.
A blip.

But seriously, this does eliminate the option of gifting DVD/Blu-ray Discs for Barrett.
Sorry, Loving Wife.

The good news is I’ve got a three-word solution.
iTunes gift card.

As a favorite high-school math teacher of mine was fond of saying-
Q.E.D.
(Quite Easily Done!)

And while I’m thinking of acronyms, I’ve got another one for our movie studios-
B.T.B.
Beware the Blips.

There are a lot more of us than you think…

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