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!


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


11 responses to “Ask LH: What’s The Point Of UltraViolet?”