UltraViolet (UV) is a digital rights movie download service that has been active since 2011 in the United States, and has just begun its’ release here in Australia. Launched in Australia in May 2013, essentially UltraViolet is a cloud-based licensing system that allows users of digital home entertainment content to stream and download purchased content onto to multiple platforms and devices. Adopting a "buy once, play anywhere" approach that lets you to store digital “proof-of-purchases” of physical movies you have bought, under one account and then allows you to download or stream the movie for life, from “the cloud” to numerous devices.
If you buy a movie that also has UltraViolet capability, you’ll put a code into an app that supports UltraViolet and then you’ll get access to a digital copy of the movie for life. You can then stream or download that movie to almost any device you can think of. Rather than activate a movie through UltraViolet itself however, you’ll use a portal service. UltraViolet doesn’t offer a direct service, so it lets app developers create platforms so that users can have a choice of where to stream from.
Available in Australia through Flixster, it is free to set up your UltraViolet account. More providers are expected to soon follow which will allow you to select your preferred provider, but the good news is that you will not be locked into any particular provider. For example if you activate 5 movies on Flixster and then a better app comes along, all you need to do is give it your UltraViolet login details and you will have changed all your films over and will be ready to go.
You can add up to 6 members to an Ultraviolet account, which means the whole family can share one account. You can also set parental controls from the Ultraviolet site. You can have up to 12 different devices with UltraViolet apps installed registered to an account.
The Flixster app is a cross-platform app, so you will be able to watch UltraViolet movies on both Android and iOS devices, as well as on your Mac or Windows laptop. As more apps become available, you will find more variety and the inclusion of apps for devices such as Blu-ray, Smart TVs’ etc.
If you’re wondering what the quality will be like, the stream quality is dependent on the hard copy you purchased. If you purchase a triple-play pack, which includes Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet copy of a film — you’d get the highest stream quality available because that’s what you purchased. If you buy the double-pack — just the DVD and the UltraViolet copy — you only get a DVD-quality stream.
The size of the file will depend on the quality of the stream and the length of the film. The Hobbit, for example, is a 1.4GB file in its high-definition format, so unless you have a big broadband limit, chances are you’ll probably want to download it, and not stream it every time you want to watch it.
In the US, there are currently around 9000 movies and TV shows in the UltraViolet back catalogue. In Australia the library is small, but you will start to see it grow more and more as studios renegotiate the rights on older movies, and include UltraViolet for new releases.
Curiosity may see some of us looking into UltraViolet for our movie collection, but it will be the smoothness of the service and how it works when we try to stream or download that will be the test that either sees us love it or loathe it. Would you use UltraViolet?