The Pros and Cons of UltraViolet
Sun, June 1, 2014
Many of the articles reviewing the UltraViolet system found on the web are based on the problems that users faced during UltraViolet’s initial public rollout. Since then, many aspects of the system have been greatly improved. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to revisit the topic. The focus of this article will be on the overall consumer experience using UltraViolet today. But first, I want to tell you why I became excited about UltraViolet.
Before the UltraViolet digital copy was introduced, I had never really gotten into buying, or redeeming digital copies. I had been a collector of DVDs for a long time, almost since the introduction of the format. Around 2007, I stopped buying new DVDs for various reasons, but the most important was portability. After joining the Navy, I wanted a way to watch movies on the go, and I didn’t want to lug around a case of DVDs, and risk them getting lost, stolen, or damaged. At that point in time there wasn’t an easy way to purchase movies for download, so I did what most other sailors did, which meant downloading movies using a torrent program. Most of the movies I downloaded I already owned on DVD, so I didn’t feel too guilty. Several years later, I discovered an easier, but more expensive way to collect digital moves after I bought my first iPhone. Naturally, I began using iTunes, and I ended up buying a couple movies and TV shows, but I wasn’t that impressed with the service. Apple’s Walled Garden meant that I could only watch the movies on my laptop or iPhone, and I thought it was crazy to have to pay their high prices for movies I had already purchased on DVD.
Then came Vudu, and the Disc to Digital service. Just as soon as I heard about it, I began to take my existing DVDs to Wal-Mart, and them to my vudu collection for just $2, and I could also upgrade them to HD for only $5. I was ecstatic. Within a few months I had added my entire DVD collection to my vudu account. But I didn’t stop there! I was soon able to find a lot of cheap used DVDs, and I added those too. Two years later, I had collected more than 500 digital movies in my UtraViolet account. All the shelf space I saved from not having to store the physical media is wonderful. And it didn’t cost me that much with the recent 50% off promotion. I think the average price I paid per movie was less than $5 total.
So I really like the UltraViolet system. It allows me to watch all my digital movies on any device I own, including my iPhone, iPad, laptop, PC, and my HDTV using my Roku box. I can also watch them at a friend’s house or hotel when I’m traveling using my extra Roku. And for the buyer, it’s great because you can price shop amongst several UV services, and still have all your movies in one place. One more thing, there are no previews or forced ads that you can’t skip on UV movies! That’s a stark contrast to Apple’s walled garden. Vudu and UtraViolet is a movie lover’s dream.
But there are a few kinks with the UltraViolet system that haven’t been worked out yet. I have read many discussions concerning UltraViolet on Amazon forums, Apple support forums, Home Theater forums, and Tech blogs. Below I have gathered some of the most common criticisms, and some possible solutions to improve the UltraViolet system, increase its user base, and satisfaction rate among consumers.
- The most common complaint is that the top digital media vendors, which make up the majority of sales, do not yet support UltraViolet content. Vendors like Amazon Instant, Comcast, and Google Play will have to start supporting UV if it is going to be successful. iTunes will probably never support UV until the competition forces it to, which could take a long time.
- Another complaint from first time UltraViolet users is that the redemption sheets bundled with physical media direct them to studio operated sites that require registration, and often confuse them. New users don’t know that they can also redeem most titles directly at the streaming provider of their choice, for instance Vudu or Target Ticket. There should be an easy to use, common redemption website for all UltraViolet titles. (Such a feature is currently being designed by the DECE consortium)
- Another drawback is that people aren’t yet able download their UltraViolet content and save it to external hard drives, or copy it to other devices such as smartphones, tablets, and other computers. (DECE is working on launching a Common File Format that will allow copying files between devices, and playback on any UltraViolet compatible device. The files will offer SD and HD (1080p) quality presentations, and should be much better than what the streaming providers currently offer).
- The lack of UV support from Studios such as Walt Disney and MGM mean that consumers are unable to collect all their favorite movies in one digital library.
- Apps for IOS and Android tablets and smartphones should be able to play movies in HD, and they should add additional features like parental controls and sorting capabilities.
If these things are addressed, I believe most of the complaints will go away. This will in turn cause good reviews, and millions of new customers for UltraViolet
Posted by: Joshua Clinard @ 01:27 pm