Jonathan Takiff: A new way to watch

UltraViolet streams movies to you, pals & devices

Posted: October 19, 2011

 THE GIZMO: UltraViolet shines a new light on the movie/TV viewing experience.

OLD SCHOOL/NEW WAYS: Like to buy, rather than rent movies and TV shows so you can enjoy them more than once, watch on different devices and share your library?

Buying hard-disc goods - DVDs and high-def Blu-rays - is one obvious way to go. But you need a dedicated player to view 'em on, storage space and a way to carry 'em around. Oh, so 2005.

How about downloading movies and shows on a multipurpose device you've already got up and running in your living room or pocket? That works - until you run out of storage space on the DVR or mobile phone.

Then there's the issue of compatibility. Most purchased downloads are locked into a specific system or device, with minimal sharing opportunities.

A BETTER WAY: This month, the bright minds of Hollywood are introducing an alternative that makes a lot of sense: UltraViolet Digital Copy, debuting as a "free" bonus with select DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Different from the limited-access, digital-copy option included with recent movie discs, UltraViolet generously offers instant streaming of a purchased movie to you and five friends or relations registered on your master account. And 12 viewing devices can be linked to the one account.

Out of the gate, Internet-connected Android and Apple iOS phones and tablets, plus Windows and Mac computers can streamUltraViolet "cloud"-

based movies and TV shows. Come December, you'll also be able to download an UltraViolet copy for keeps.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, we'll be hearing about UltraViolet accessibility being added to a mess of Internet-connected TVs, plus Blu-ray players, cable/satellite receivers and other set-top devices. Soon, you'll even be able to check into a hotel room that has a LodgeNet box. Log onto your UltraViolet account, then either watch movies already in your library or purchase something that becomes part of your permanent collection.

THE DIGITAL LOCKER: First out of the gate with UltraViolet copy-enhanced DVDs and Blu-rays, Warner Bros. had me set up an account and register proof of purchase (POP) code numbers included with "Horrible Bosses" and "Green Lantern" at their Flixster website (ultraviolet.flixster.com).

When Sony and Universal jump into the game in November and December, respectively, they'll have movie buyers register POP codes at their own movie streaming sites.

Sound confusing? What makes the system mesh is that all your POPs from the varied titles/ studios are registered at a "digital locker" clearing house.

Your "family" members can go to UltraViolet's parent site, www.uvvu.com, peruse the shared library and click on a link to watch something.

UltraViolet executive director Mark Teitell believes that, down the road, sites such as Flixster will also offer access to other studios' wares.

ON WITH THE SHOW: On the first day and with the first film, "Horrible Bosses," registering an account and POP went fine. But this guinea pig then experienced several glitches in streaming on an iMac and iPad.

Later, a Warner Bros. techie patiently instructed me to shut off all the unnecessary "apps" running in the background on my devices. (I had about 60 going on the iPad.)

While that fixed matters, I had to note that other streaming movie apps - Netflix and HBO Go - run just fine on the iPad without this cleansing process.

I also was troubled by an occasional splat of dialogue distortion with "Horrible Bosses," revealed again when watching the same movie stream on my office Windows 7 PC. (I was working, boss, I swear!)

Warner Bros.'s second available UltraViolet stream, "Green Lantern," has run without any hitches. And offered a nice surprise. After registering its POP code, I was given instant access to the animated feature "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights." In the wonderful new world of UltraViolet streaming, extras are easily added.

Upcoming UltraViolet-Ready Titles: "Crazy Stupid Love," Nov. 1; "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows - Part 2," Nov. 11; Sony UV debuts "The Smurfs" and "Friends With Benefits" Dec. 2; "The Hangover Part II," Dec. 6; Universal's first UV movie, "Cowboys & Aliens," Dec. 6; "One Tree Hill - Season 8," Dec. 20; "Shameless - Season 1," Dec. 2.

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