The Ultraviolet DRM scheme is many things, one of which is namely confusing. But one of the things it was meant to do was make your movies available on multiple devices and platforms, making your digital movie collection more universal.
Walmart is looking to fill this need with Vudu by offering a service to make digital versions of your movie collection available through the Ultraviolet platform. This Lazy Tech Guy recently went through the process to see if it was easy or just a waste of time.
As of this writing, Vudu has a limited time promotion where signing up for a Vudu account gets you a free movie, and if you can get 5 more movies when you use their Disc to Digital program. The free movies are from a list of their choosing, but some of the movies you can choose from are: Austin Powers, The Bodyguard, Mr. Deeds, Cruel Intentions, Blow, and more.
In order to use the Disc to Digital service, you must first have a Vudu account. Right on the front page of Vudu is a Disc to Digital link where they can get you started. You will also have to sign up for an Ultraviolet account linked to your Vudu account, which Vudu helps with as well. I have talked about the convoluted process of getting started with Ultraviolet DRM in the past, and this kind of streamlines it, because if you are using the Disc to Digital service, it looks like you don’t have to sign up for accounts for separate movie studios right now, unlike redeeming a digital copy from a retail disc.
Once logged into your Vudu account clicking on the Disc to Digital button at the very top will bring you to a “My Movie List” page. Using the search box type in the movies you want to convert to digital, specifying whether you have the Blu-ray or DVD version and choose your digital preference. If you have the Blu-ray, it is $2 to convert most movies to an HD digital copy. Some films (like Ghostbusters) only give the option for SD. If you have the DVD version of the film, it is $2 to convert it to SD, and $5 to get the HD version. There’s no gaming the system here, you can’t lie and say you have a DVD of a movie and expect to get an HD version for $2, you have to have the discs physically with you. More on this later.
After choosing your movies, click the “print list” button and a list with your account email and your movie list will be printed which you can take to your local Walmart.
Take your list and discs to a local Walmart Photo Center and they will process your order. The Photo Center employee will take your list and discs and verify that you have said discs. They will also stamp on the inside ring of the disc “walmart entertainment.”
The Photo Center employee then prints a barcode sticker and places it on your list and rings you up on the spot!
Shortly after you will receive an email from Vudu saying that you have redeemed movies through them and they will appear in your Ultraviolet collection.
Here’s the cool part. And, to consumers, this is exactly what Ultraviolet is meant for: Not only can you use the Vudu website to stream these movies, if you don’t like the Vudu interface you can use the Flixster website. You can also view them on the Vudu apps for iOS, PS3 and other platforms, but unfortunately not Android. Android users can use the Flixster app to watch some of the movies in your Ultraviolet collection. With Flixster it depends on the movie studio, usually Warner Bros and Sony Pictures movies are viewable. Hopefully this part of their service improves fast.
Since I was already signed up for an Ultraviolet account, the surprise of multiple accounts did not hit me, but that may be the most inconvenient moment for users wanting to use the Disc to Digital service. The Vudu website is actually very intuitive in guiding the customer on what step is next and being able to print your list and take it to a local Walmart is a plus in ease of use. The only thing that would make it easier at that point is to not even have to go into a store and just “unlock” the digital versions of the movies automatically. Samsung announced a Blu-ray player at CES this year that would do the same thing, but it will be interesting to see how they will verify if the disc has been redeemed already.
So is the Disc to Digital service worth it? This service is for customers who don’t mind paying $2 for the convenience of buying digital versions of movies they already own, and may not feel comfortable with ripping their discs. Again, the main stumbling block is just signing up and Walmart has done a good job of making the process streamlined enough for someone who wants these movies on their digital locker. They are giving plenty of incentives at the moment in offering free movies as well.