The UltraViolet movie download service has been live in the US for almost two years now, and after all that time it's finally coming to Australia. Here's what you need to know.
What Is UltraViolet?
UltraViolet is a movie library/cloud-locker service that lets you access digital copies of movies you have bought physical copies of. If you buy a movie in-store that also has UltraViolet capability, you'll put a code into an app that supports UltraViolet and then you'll get access to said movie for life in the cloud. You can then stream or download that movie to damn-near any device you can think of.
It's a service with the backing of most major studios (excluding most notably, Disney) and most major technology providers and manufacturers (excluding most notably, Apple).
How Do I Get An UltraViolet Movie?
When you buy a Blu-ray or DVD movie from a store, you'll get a coupon in the case. That's what you're going to use to activate your movie in your UltraViolet cloud locker.
Rather than activate a movie through UltraViolet itself, however, you'll use a portal service. UltraViolet doesn't really offer a direct window into its service, it lets app developers create platforms so that users can have a choice of experience.
In Australia, UltraViolet is first partnering with Flixster. More UltraViolet-compatible apps will follow, but that's the first one to hit the market. When you activate a code on the UltraViolet service, however, you'll be able to view your library on any UltraViolet-compatible app so there's no lock in.
Say for example you activate 10 movies on Flixster and then a better app comes along, all you need to do is give it your UltraViolet login details and you're ready to go.
It's important to note that you have 24 months to enter the code into your UltraViolet account, otherwise the code invalidates itself.
How Can I Watch The Movies?
Flixster is a cross-platform app, so you can watch UltraViolet movies on both Android and iOS devices, as well as on your Mac or Windows laptop.
More apps will become available in future, and you can expect them not just on tablets and smartphones, but on Smart TVs and Blu-ray players as well.
What Is The Quality Of The Stream?
The stream quality is completely dependent on what you purchased from a store. If you purchase a triple-play pack, for example — which includes Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet copy of a film — you'd get the highest stream quality available becuase you have paid for it. 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.
How Many Movies Are Available?
In the US, there are currently around 9000 movies and TV shows in the UltraViolet back catalogue. In Australia from the May 1 launch, there will only be one: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
To get all of the movies onto UltraViolet, studios need to renegotiate the rights and include international territories into various contracts. It's all about who gets paid for what and when, you see.
Warner Brothers has pledged to bring all of its new release movies (Man Of Steel, Pacific Rim, Jack The Giant Slayer) to UltraViolet moving forward, and it's fair to guess that other studios will do the same so the library will slowly expand in Australia.
When Can You Get It?
UltraViolet will be available from May 1 in Australia and the industry working group behind the service will work to add functionality going forward.