Having recently purchased the latest Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” on DVD I was made aware by the largely unsubtle information which adorned display stand that the DVD copy came with a digitally downloadable version of the film. As this was certainly a blockbuster in the traditional sense, I was curious as to how well this system may have been incorporated, and how likely this would be to stop people acquiring their own illegal digital copies anyway after purchasing the film. I thought I would post about my experience here…
The services used to distribute the digital copy is knows as “Ultraviolet” and this service provides you with the ability to stream a digital copy in the browser or on mobile devices. It also allows you to download a higher resolution copy to watch offline, both on desktop and mobile platforms. Interestingly, the service also allows you to share your movie library with up to 5 other people – friends and family, which seems like an interesting move to discourage people making their own digital copies to pass around.
Using the service is simple enough, you go to their website, sign up and enter the code which comes with the DVD (or Blu-ray). The film the appears in your library and you can start streaming or downloading immediately. The download requires their player to use and to keep track of the content and at 2.5GB, the quality was comparable to that of the original DVD. As for streaming however, the quality was simply not acceptable and the low resolution and blocky live streamed version was certainly enough to render this aspect unusable. It is certainly inferior to the original DVD quality.
As for mobile use, there are Android and iOS apps (although not branded as “Ultraviolet”. they are tied in to the “Flixster” service) which offer much the same features, on paper. Having only tried the Android app, it was safe to say that it simply didn’t work. Streaming wouldn’t start and although the film would download, it would not begin to play from the device once downloaded (which took quite some time).
It is safe to say that as I write this, the fantastic Handbrake is ripping my copy of the film and also maintaining the full Dolby Digital 5.1 AC3 stream which was lacking from the Ultraviolet version. Nice try, I didn’t feel restricted by how I could watch the film, it was just technical difficulties which no doubt could be rectified. I will update if anything magically begins to work, and if I get chance to test the service on iOS.
I don’t intend to share the film with anyone, I just intend to have the digital file available when I want to watch / rewatch the film in the future, rather than the only copy of the film I have sitting in a box in the loft, never to be seen again.