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What are UltraViolet movies? Your DVDs and Blu-rays in the cloud

What is UltraViolet?

Latest news about UltraViolet moviesUltraViolet is a system which gives you a digital copy of your DVDs and Blu-rays which you can watch on phones, tablets or the Web.

It’s the public face of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) consortium. It launched in the UK and USA in late 2011.

This represents film studios, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, cable companies, ISPs, network-hosting vendors, and other Internet systems and security vendors.

It’s designed to let you purchase a Blu-ray or DVD and get a free online copy for viewing on TVs, PCs and mobile devices. In the USA, you can also get a digital copy of Blu-rays you already own.


Who is involved in UltraViolet?

The major Hollywood film studios are all involved with UltraViolet: Fox Entertainment, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, NBC Universal, DreamWorks and Paramount, as well as smaller players such as Lionsgate and Roadshow. It’s also backed by broadcasters and TV producers such as BBC Worldwide and Sky.

In the UK, high profile members include Tesco, which owns the Blinkbox movie rental and ownership service, and Amazon-owned Lovefilm.

Other familiar names on the UltraViolet roll-call include Best Buy, Blockbuster, Dell, Flixster, HMV, Huawei, IBM, Intel, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Netflix, Nokia, Panasonic, Philips, Rovi, Samsung, and Toshiba.

The UltraViolet stickerHow does UltraViolet work?

The short story: if you buy a disc with the UV logo, you can log this into your digital collection with a unique code supplied in the packaging, and then watch it on any of your registered devices.

In practice, you have to first set up an Ultraviolet account. When you buy a disc, you have to set up an account with the studio or distributor, such as Sony, to input the code. The movie will then appear in your UltraViolet locker.

You can watch it on your PC through the player on the film studio’s site (which will be different with each studio).

To watch on mobile devices, you currently need to set up an account with Flixster so you can download an encrypted copy of your film.

As other service provides come aboard, like Lovefilm and Blinkbox, or more apps are approved as players, you’ll probably need to set up accounts with them as well.

What films are on UltraViolet?

UltraViolet doesn’t publish a list of which film releases it has supported since launch. They include Final Destination V, 21 Jump Street, Crazy Stupid Love, Dolphin Tale, The Hunger Games, Happy Feet Two, Jack & Jill, and The Vow.

What non-PC devices can I use to watch my UltraViolet films?

UltraViolet claims it can be accessed on TVs, tablets, game consoles, set top boxes, Blu-ray players, internet TVs and smartphones. You can register up to 12 devices per account, plus a downloaded copy on a secure memory card.

In practise, it depends on the apps and services hosted by your devices. Android and iPhone/iPad users can download a copy of their film and watch using the Flixster app.

LG, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba are all members of UltraViolet, and in the USA, VUDU and Flixster TV apps support UltraViolet. We hope that they’ll provide UltraViolet players in their UK TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices as well.

How many people can use my Ultraviolet account?

Up to six people can use a single UltraViolet account, and each member can have their own user name and password.

Each member can download copies to their registered devices, and watch up to three streams (or the same or different content) at the same time.

There are parental controls for families who want to restrict their children’s access to films in their UltraViolet collection.


Can I convert my DVD and Blu-ray collection to digital with UltraViolet?

In the USA, Walmart has partnered with Ultraviolet in a disc-to-digital drive, with movie buffs turning up at stores with crates full of discs.

The service costs $2 for a standard-definition copy, or $5 for HD, but customers who sign up to Walmart’s VUDU player can also get a free movie for their UltraViolet collection.

In Spring 2011, Rovi said the UK equivalent is more likely to be using your purchase history from retailers like Amazon and Sainsbury’s to generate a list of film and TV titles you could be entitled to. 

Can I watch Ultraviolet films in high definition, Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound?

You can stream and download in HD, while UltraViolet supports both DTS and Dolby Digital Plus, which enables suppliers to deliver a different kind of audio format to different devices.

For example, a mobile phone with a 3G connection would probably require stereo audio, while a connected TV would be suited to 5.1 surround sound.

What are the alternatives?

Disney has been involved in a rival service called Keychest since 2009, but nothing concrete has emerged from this yet. 

Latest news about UltraViolet movies

Sony, Universal and Warner Bros back Dolby Digital Plus for UltraViolet film audio

Sony, Universal and Warner Bros back Dolby Digital Plus for UltraViolet film audioUltraViolet’s Common File Format is guaranteed thousands of films encoded in its chosen Dolby Digital Plus audio system after backing from Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

The Common File Format will launch later in 2013, and make it easier to produce UltraViolet-compatible player hardware, apps or web players.

Users will be able to download their UltraViolet-registered titles in the knowledge that the file will play on a wide variety of players compatible with the CFF.

Dolby Digital Plus enables films to be encoded very efficiently at up to 7.1 surround sound, which is particularly useful for broadcasting, online streaming and making downloadable files smaller without losing quality.

“We work with partners who believe in putting audiences right in the center of the action as much as we do,” said Joseph Cates, senior vice president of technology for Universal Pictures. “Universal is proud to work with Dolby to deliver immersive sound wherever it matters to people.”

UltraViolet now has more than 9,000,000 accounts worldwide (well, North America and the UK) and expects to hit 10 million soon.

January 9, 2013

NOOK Video brings UV movies and TV on-demand to tablets

NOOK Video launches today, bringing UltraViolet movies and TV episodes to the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets in time for Christmas.

Titles include Recombu Digital favourites Sherlock, Game of Thrones and True Blood as well as well as recent blockbuster hits The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3 and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

What are UltraViolet movies? NOOK Video first to bring UV movies and TV on-demand to tablets

No word on how much it costs to rent or buy yet; NOOK-owners Barnes & Noble may opt for a subscription method or a pay-as-you-go type option.

As well buying content directly from NOOK Video, thanks to NOOK Cloud, you’ll also be able to upload and stream previously purchased UltraViolet titles. So if you’ve already started upgrading your DVD and Blu-ray collection so that they’re UV-compatible, you’ll be able to watch your purchases on the new NOOK tablets.

The NOOK HD and the NOOK HD+ are on sale now. The NOOK HD costs £159 and £189 for the 8GB and 16GB versions and the NOOK HD+ costs £229 and £269 for the 16GB and 32GB versions.

We’ve been able to get some hands-on time with both NOOK tablets here – the NOOK HD+ has a seriously high screen resolution, meaning UltraViolet movies should look pretty amazing.

December 10, 2012

BBC goes UV with Doctor Who and Top Gear

What are UltraViolet movies? BBC goes UV with Doctor Who and Top Gear

BBC Worldwide will be releasing its first UltraViolet-enabled DVD and Blu-ray box sets this Christmas. Doctor Who (Series 7, Part 1), the new Top Gear box set, Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild and, er, John Bishop’s Rollercoaster will be getting the UV treatment.

So if you’re lucky enough to unwrap any of these this year, as well as powering through the box sets you’ll automatically be able to access an online version for streaming and downloading.

The idea is that you’ll be able to hand enter a code to ‘redeem’ the digital copies, similar to the CD keys of old PC games. BBC Worldwide has announced that it’s partnering with Flixster as a delivery partner, so once you’ve entered your code at the BBC site, you’ll be redirected to a Flixster page to complete your download.

October 10, 2012

Dolby Digital Plus logo

Dolby Digital Plus audio now supported by UltraViolet

The Dolby Digital Plus audio format has been added to UltraViolet’s Common File Format, which details which audio and video formats can be used on the service.

Dolby Digital Plus is a flexible format designed to support different levels of audio quality and detail for for different devices, such as smartphones and home cinema systems.

September 11, 2012

Prometheus to go UltraViolet

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus will lead a new stage of digital film ownership this month, when it’s sold online through UltraViolet three weeks before it’s in the shops.

The disappointing sci-fi unprequel will go on sale in the USA on September 18, but the DVD and Blu-ray won’t be available until October 11, when it will also appear on services like Netflix.

The trial will continue indefinitely with all new Fox releases, which will also be cheaper online than the DVD or Blu-ray copy, but there’s no word of whether the experiment will run in the UK also.

September 6, 2012


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