Ask LH: What's The Point Of UltraViolet?

I consider myself a little unusual as I purchase DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Some I have purchased recently proudly state on the packet DVD+UltraViolet or BluRay+UltraViolet. What is UltraViolet, and why should I care? As it stands, anything I want format shifted I do with HandBrake, and my home bandwidth means streaming isn't really practical. Thanks, Violet Crumbled

Dear VC,

UltraViolet (UV) is a cloud-based video distribution service designed to give you fuss-free access to your entertainment library on a range of different platforms. It's basically a bonus digital copy that's stored online for streaming and/or downloading via a redeemable proof-of-purchase code.

When you redeem a UV code, your rights to the corresponding movie or TV show will be automatically confirmed across all partnering retailers, streaming services and media players.

In other words, it allows you to watch your movies on multiple devices without faffing about with shared network folders or USB thumb drives. This is the chief selling point of UltraViolet: unlike most digital movie services, it keeps all your purchases under a single unified account (in theory at least.)

JB Hi-Fi and EzyFlix are the two key Australian retailers who partner with UltraViolet, although you can buy UV-bundled DVDs and Blurays from a range of other suppliers — just look for the distinctive purple bordering on the cases.

There are a few existing drawbacks to UV, however. As is par for the course with this sort of thing, the Australian version currently lacks some of the best US features, including the ability to transfer your old DVD and Blu-ray collection to UltraViolet for a small fee.

There are also occasional compatibility issues between partnering platforms — an UltraViolet title you buy from JB Hi-Fi might not necessarily play on the EzyFlix app and vice versa. This effectively robs the service of its much-touted agnostic benefits.

So should you care? Probably not. Retailers don't charge a premium for UltraViolet discs, so it's not going to cost you anything extra. If you're happy with your existing digital move library, our advice is to ignore the codes and continue using HandBrake.

You could also try flogging them on eBay — UltraViolet codes tend to sell for between $3 and $8, depending on the movie. If you're a prolific Blu-ray/DVD purchaser, this could actually turn into a decent money spinner!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    There's also the insane lack of useful devices that will actually work with it. No half-decent media player/streamer offers it, because it's a massive pain in the ass.

    With no useful device support, it's pretty much dead already. It's much simpler to format shift it using the internet in a format that any modern media player will work with, and without silly restrictions or downloading it multiple times for multiple devices.

    There is simply no incentive for anyone to use or care about this arcane "system".

    Don't a lot of these codes also expire if you don't use them?

    I have a bunch with them and never ever used the codes. I am under the impression most digital copies I could no longer access. Maybe it's just a case where if I had accessed them they'd be in some library somewhere.

    Anyway, no real point at this stage.

      I don't know if they expire if you don't use them, but a couple of DVDs I've bought have dates attached (like 2015 a year or two back). I don't know if that's an expiry date for the code (use by or else), or if all access is lost at that time.

    Between the DRM and the bullshit player support, you pretty much may as well just dump it on 'yer hard drive and be done with it. I've converted all my stuff to MKV and stored it all on my NAS, I don't need anyone's permission and it plays everywhere without the hoop jumping...!

      Could you tell me a bit more about how you did it? I understand there are tools called MKV and Handbrake etc that will helo me the dvds and blu rays that I own. Any blu ray burner that you could recommend?
      Thanks much :)

        Any blu ray burner that you could recommend?...?
        Yeah, I'm gonna assume you're after a ripper... I use DVDfab, others prefer Slysoft AnyDvd, they are a bit expensive though. Also, you can use the free "HD Decryptor" From DVDfab and Handbrake or similar. There are others, but they don't update the DRM removal as often or as well... :)

    Do we have any Ultraviolet connected devices readily available in Australia? Or are you expected to watch it on your laptop like a lot of these other stupid services?

    I use my Ultraviolet codes sheets as kindling. Ultraviolet is useless.

    Yep, UV is worse than useless. Stupidass programs its tied into only make it worse, since they never have worked for me.

    Does anyone know a good site that either explains (in relative lay terms) how to configure Handbrake?
    All my rips are either too big, or come out 'square'.

    Hmmm Ultraviolet is light that we can't see. Very appropriate name if you ask me.

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