My Major Problem With Digital Distribution


I want to see this cute mohawk on my iPad

As an iPad owner it’s probably very obvious that I love digital distribution. However, there is one major problem that recently came up, and made me realize that we still have a long way to go before things are great.

Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Combo Packs

I recently picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Blu-Ray. I tend to choose Blu-Ray not so much because of the fancy hi-def viewing (which is a plus), but I many of them have a DVD version and a digital version. I can use the DVD for my computer, and the Blu-Ray can go in my PlayStation 3 for living room viewing. The digital copy actually happens to be the one I use the most. It’s quite often that I will watch a movie or show on my iPhone or iPad while working on my computer, or late at night while relaxing in bed. Since I am single now, I don’t have to worry about waking anyone up.



Here comes my problem: The digital copy of this movie came in Ultraviolet format. Leave it to Sony to want to come up with some new media format and make it a pain for everyone who’s already adjusted to something else. Right?

I like to put my movies on my iPad. Now, instead of simply going to iTunes and entering a code, I have to sign up for a new service. That takes time I don’t feel like spending. It’s another password and login to remember. Great! Now I have my movie! Right?

Well, it’s actually just a stream. Luckily, Sony’s download manager lets me download the movie to my computer, but it doesn’t like to tell me where the movie is saved. I just want to watch it on my iPad. If I wanted to watch it on my computer, I would pop in the DVD…it’s right there on my shelf.

How about my iPad?

Now, how do I put it on my iPad? Ah..good ol’ Google. Okay…Ultraviolet is a pain. This guy summed it up nicely:

“UltraViolet is anything but simple, that is unless you plan to only stream digital copies from your PC at home.

We received two movies for Christmas which came with an UltraViolet digital copy of the movie. To download them, I had to 1) establish an account with UltraViolet 2) establish an account with Flixster Collection and 3) establish an account with Sony Pictures UltraViolet.

One movie digital copy had to be downloaded via Flixster Collection, the other through Sony Pictures. Putting them on my daughter’s iPod was another story. I had to download the Flixster Movies app, after which I had to download each of the movies to be viewed when not online. The caveat is, I have to be logged onto my flixster account via the iPod in order to watch the downloaded movies. So good luck watching the movie while traveling outside a Wi-Fi area or on an airplane (which we do frequently).

I much prefer the iTunes method of obtaining a digital copy. Download it, sync it to my iPod/iPad, and take it with me anywhere I go to be viewed anywhere, anytime I please.”


Handbrake it is

That’s right. I found out the same thing. I wanted to watch it on my iPad or iPhone, so this meant I had to download an App like Flixster. From there you have to sign up for Flixster. I am a lazy bugger, and at that point said “screw it,” and turned to my old pal Handbrake. Let’s just say that’s the digital copy I’m entitled to and call it even. Shall we?

See, Sony? I wouldn’t have had to rip the movie had you just provided a copy I could put on my iPad without all this hassle. No wonder people prefer torrents.


In the End

The important thing right now, I think, is some sort of standard. Whatever it is, it would be nice for the format to work on my iOS devices just as well as it works on my friend’s Xoom tablet and just as well as it works on a computer. Sure, iTunes is convenient for me, but how about someone on a different device? Let’s just hope we can find a standard someday.



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