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.
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.
"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.
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.
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