What Is UltraViolet And Why Should You Care?

UltraViolet (UV) is a cloud-based video distribution service designed to give you instant access to your entertainment library via any device you see fit. The main selling point of UV is that all your purchases will be stored under the one account, regardless of the retailer, media player or hardware platform you happen to be using at the time of purchase.

Over the coming months, you may begin to see 'UltraViolet' logos and stickers attached to selected DVD and Blu-ray products, beginning with The Hobbit on 1 May. Unlike other 'Free Digital Copy' offers, UV provides more flexibility in how you consume your media, including streaming options. Earlier today, we were given a hands-on demonstration of UltraViolet by the company in conjunction with Warner Bros. Here's an overview of how the service works.

UltraViolet DVD sticker

How does it work?

In a nutshell, UltraViolet gives users the ability to stream and download their purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. When you buy a movie or TV show from a participating studio or retailer, you'll receive a proof-of-purchase code which once redeemed, will add the corresponding move/TV show to your UltraViolet Collection. You then have the option to stream it over the internet or download it for offline viewing on your hardware platform of choice.

Your rights to the movie or TV show will be automatically confirmed across all partnering retailers, streaming services and media players. "It doesn't matter where you redeem your code," explained Warner Bros' Australian PR manager Jonathan Hollett. "Whether it be Flixster, JB Hi-Fi, Woolies or wherever else. Ultimately that's just a door through which you're accessing your UltraViolet catalogue. [Every purchase] will sync with your UV account."

Once the title has been added to your collection it will be ready for viewing, with options to stream or download to a host of internet-ready devices. If you bought the Blu-ray version of a movie, you can opt to download/view it in Full HD or standard-def; handy if you don't want to chew up your bandwidth.

Crucially, UltraViolet does not actually store files. Rather, it stores the management and licensing rights for your purchased content. The associated digital media is stored and managed by UV's various partners.

What platforms does UV support?

UV is currently compatible with Android, iOS, PC and Mac devices via corresponding apps for each platform. However, it's not currently available as a standalone Smart TV application.

The Hobbit streaming on smartphone through Flixster

"At the moment, we're a little bit behind in this area, but [IPTV] apps are being developed now," Hollett explained. That said, you'll own the Blu-ray/DVD already - which is how you got the UV code — so this isn't that big of an issue.

Which studios are behind UV?

Currently, most major movie studios support the service, including Sony, Warner Bros, Lionsgate and Paramount. A notable exception is Disney — which could be a red flag for parents.

Can you add movies that you already legitimately own?

Unfortunately, the service is only available for titles displaying the UltraViolet logo. However, according to the company's website, some retailers and studios "may" offer disc-to-digital deals allowing you to add movies and TV shows you already own to your UltraViolet account. We expect a small fee will probably be involved.

How much personal information does it collect?

Apparently, the UV service only requires access to your name, email address, birth date, and country, although we'd be very surprised if your media collection wasn't monitored and utilised in some capacity. If this sort of thing concerns you, we'd recommend taking a gander at the user privacy policies prior to signing up.

First Impressions

Despite a few playback hiccups (which were manly due to connecting to a US account), we found the service in its Flixster guise to be straightforward, attractive and user-friendly. While UltraViolet is unlikely to stem the tide of video piracy in Australia, we think it adds a nice little incentive to DVD and BLu-ray purchasers who want more flexibility in the way they consume their media. It also provides a fuss-free backup solution for your physical media.

Lifehacker's weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.


Comments

    Good article. I was quite confused about it before. I can see this helping slightly; but realistically unless more people have access to streaming level Internet (currently less than 8% of australians have 24Mbps which is what you realistically need to stream in high def) and even then you would need a fair level of data to have that on multiple devices; so I'm not sure how well it will work.

      You can also download as well as stream if you have a slower connection.

    Was this article paid for?

    It seems very fluffy and positive towards a service which is restrive and DRM laden. When I purchase a film I want in a file format which can truly be used on any platform, not just ones which they decide to release apps for.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-57398729-256/ultraviolet-drm-by-any-other-name-still-stinks/

      But what about when you buy a disc? You can only use that in a Blu-ray or DVD player, or a computer.

      Surely this gives you more flexibility?

      Why do you think that having a digital copy entitles you to a DRM free format? (Not meant aggressively, more out of interest),

      Shouldn't there be a disclaimer somewhere in this article to identify it as a paid advertisement?

      When you buy a DVD, BLU-RAY or even a DIGITAL COPY you are not buying the media. You are buying a licence to the content. Seeing as it's only a licence to view the content as a consumer I should be able to view said content, that I have legally obtained a licence for, in ANY format on ANY device in ANY way that I choose.

      It's a sad state of affairs when it's possible to get a better quality "rip" from a pirate site just so that I can have the content that I've legally bought available on my media center. Fiddling with ripping software and figuring out Handbrake to create the optimum media file shouldn't be one of the steps involved in getting your legal content on any platform that you wish.

        When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray, you're not buying a licence to the content, you're buying the right or view the content on that particular format.

        Ripping the movie would be illegal.
        http://lifehacker.com/5978326/is-it-legal-to-rip-a-dvd-that-i-own

        Your argument therefore becomes invalid.

          It's illegal to rip a DVD you own in the US. It is not illegal to do it in Australia

            It's illegal to rip a DVD in Australia. Format shifting exceptions only apply to "videotapes" and explicitly don't apply to DVDs. See http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/01/format-shifting-101-what-are-your-legal-rights-in-australia/ and http://www.copyright.org.au/admin/cms-acc1/_images/8016038184f2f6194e7567.pdf where it says "The provision allows you to copy videotapes, but not to copy DVDs or digital downloads."

              Thanks for the links. The Lifehacker article was a very good read. Pity that the copyright laws in Australia, or any country it seems, hasn't kept up with technology. There is so much innovation and value to be enjoy by both content creators and consumers. Finding the middle ground in this is unfortunately looking to be an impossible task.

          When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray, you're not buying a licence to the content, you're buying the right or view the content on that particular format.
          How does this invalidate my argument: as a consumer I should be able to view said content, that I have legally obtained a licence for, in ANY format on ANY device in ANY way that I choose.

          I'm saying that as a consumer I should be granted the right to view the content in any format.

          Ripping the movie would be illegal.
          I wasn't saying that is was legal. I was highlighting the fact that for me, as a consumer, to be able to access my legally bought content on any platform my only recourse would be to rip or download the same content.

    So it's like Steam but for movies and TV shows?

    Sold.

      Except you can't buy films and TV shows through it, you need to go into store and purchase the DVD or Blu-Ray which has a code with it.

    One fact that's missing from the story is that the Ultra Violet version can be purchased online, without having to buy a DVD or Blu-ray.

    So maybe if the titles are available at the right price, it might have an impact on piracy levels?

      Where does it offer that?

        It's not mentioned in this article, which doesn't do a particularly thorough job of explaining the full scope of UV, but it is mentioned in the first image (under Buy), although I am aware that this is probably from the US site. *edit* actually, I can see how it's open to interpretation there..

        But I am aware that there will be an option to purchase digital only copy in Australia.

        Last edited 10/04/13 9:55 am

    So you have to buy the physical disc in order to get the digital copy?

    How backwards and useless is that! I'm out.

      Blu-ray discs are currently the highest quality video format commercially available. Streaming and downloadable alternatives offer the same resolution, but (AFAIK) none of them match the bitrate. So it's not backwards, it's actually the most advanced format currently available which is quite useful for people who want (real) HD video.

    I looked into it for Android as lots of Blu Rays I bought have it advertised. I then found that if you have rooted your phone, it won't work.
    Google Play Movies work with a rooted phone (although didn't for a short while) why can't this?

    Oh well, I have never bought a movie because it has Ultraviolet. I still prefer to watch movies on my big telly.

    Another studio waste of time. Several Blu ray's from the USA will not work on Ultraviolet for me. Yet again region locked nonsense so the "Australian Tax" can be levied.

      I was liking the sound of this service until you pointed that out. *sigh*

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