A Drive into UltraViolet

Feb 1, 2012 by

So wait is it “Ultra Violet” or is it “UltraViolet” or maybe “Ultraviolet” or “ULTRAVIOLET”.  Spelling aside, I have been pretty excited about a new “digital locker” for movies. UltraViolet is supposed to unify all of the digital copy issues, and if you listen to Entertainment 2.0 or Seen in HD then you might have heard that it has sort of been a disaster so far. Multiple accounts to sign up for, codes not working, and who knows that else. So I decided to put it to the test and purchase Drive on Blu-ray this week which seems to be only offered as a single disc Blu-ray with an UltraViolet copy.

From looking at the UltraViolet flyer it sounds great: I can watch my movie any time on computers, tablets, and even smartphone, because it is on select devices. I guess you can also share your collection with up to 6 family members. I am not sure that works because can’t you just give your username and password to everyone? (we will find out). From the flyer it is also apparently extremely easy with only three steps. 1 – go to a website (http://www.sonypictures.com/uv/drive) …Also the worst URL ever. 2 – Enter code. 3 – Create some accounts and watch my movie! If that is it then I am surprised, and that sounds like it should take about two minutes, so let’s find out.

Step 1 – “From your computer, go to www.sonypictures.com/uv/drive

This seems really simple, so I opened up Chrome and boom all I have to do is enter my code? But Ryan seems skeptical.

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Step 2 – “Enter the Redemption Code below”

Alright I think I can handle this.

So I enter it and simply hit “REDEEM”…uh oh LIES! I can not simply go to step 3! I have to tell Sony where I bought the Blu-ray. This also seems easy so I input the only place you should buy Blu-rays, Amazon.com.

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Step 3 – “Follow the steps to create or log in to your free UltraViolet and Sony Pictures movie accounts to start enjoying your movie”

Alright so that one wasn’t on the flyer, but this one was. I now have to create some accounts. According to the flyer I have to create two accounts which seems very odd, but let’s roll with it.

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So after filling in:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Birth Day
  • Zip Code
  • Email Address
  • If I have an UltraViolet Account??? (Aren’t I signing up for one?)
  • Then I have to sign up for a Sony Pictures account… and an UltraViolet account.
    • ….WAIT???!?!? HUH??? alright I am in
    • Also I need to agree to about five different privacy policies and terms of use.

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Alright so I have all this jazz filled out so now I can watch my movie right? Nope, I need to agree to another terms of use:

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Alright I agree without reading it just like everyone else, so now I can watch it right? According to the next page I can, so says Ryan Gosling:

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To my surprise I get a nice Silverlight video player with my movie. It even has chapter support:

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So overall that didn’t seem too complicated to get it going, but the real question now is do I need both of these accounts to watch this online? Also what about mobile devices? Well according to this big purple bar on top of the page my account is not activated at UltraViolet, so let’s do this now. There is a direct link so that should be simple. The link does nothing more than take me to www.uvvu.com where I need to sign in. Enter my credentials and I am in, but only after I fill in a second secret question. I am not sure why Sony didn’t ask me to fill it out, but that seems alright. They send me an email and I have to go validate it. So I open up my Gmail where in fact an email had been sent and my account is now activated.

It appears as though any movie I redeem will be accessible over at uvvu.com, however if I actually want to stream Drive then I have to go to the Sony website.  The odd thing here is that it does NOT ask for my UltraViolet account. It actually asks for my email and password for my Sony account. Once I log back in now I can watch Drive once again. While this doesn’t seem like a huge issue, there are a lot of different movie distributers out there and if you have to have a separate account for each that is just going to be a pain in the butt.

Alright back to mobile phones though. I head back over to uvvu.com to see what I can play this content on. I click on the big “Our Apps and Devices” button in hopes my brand new Galaxy Nexus can play this content back. NOPE! Apparently there are NO devices that UltraViolet works on. This is actually a let down and basically a lie according to the flyer.

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While there is no list, I remember someone saying that Flixster had UltraViolet. After digging through their website I found www.flixster.com/ultraviolet with a nice video. So I better sign up for an account so I can stream it to my Android Flixster app. After quickly signing up on Flixster.com I think I am good to go.  I press on the redeem option and it is time to link my UV account with Flixster. I also apparently need to give Warner Bros. the rights to access my UV account. These seems fine, so let’s do this. After linking my account I have to enter the UltraViolet code once more:

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However apparently my code is now invalid Sad smileimage

Do not fear though, apparently since I already activated it with Sony it is now just in my “Flixster” collection. So it is on uvvu.com, sony.com, and flixster.com. That is not confusing at all. The interesting thing is if I just simply press play on flixster.com it does NOT redirect to sony.com, but instead it just starts playing. This seems great. However just like everything else in this process it is not that easy. When I was streaming Drive at Sony.com I was able to get SD and HD streams, however on Flixster.com I only receive SD, and it is also Flash.

So now it is time to see if it starts streaming on my Android phone, which is the only reason I signed up for the Flixster account. After downloading the official flixster application on the Android Marketplace and signing in and checking my collection I have the option to stream or to download.

So this was a journey into UltraViolet. At the end of the day, UltraViolet does seem to work. It is not uniform, requires multiple accounts, and seems to not have enough information, but after a while you can stream a movie. It just seems like too much work for the avid consumer, which I believe is the real problem. How was your UltraViolet experience? We want to know! Leave comments below.

Update 1: I have also tested the Flixster app on the Kindle Fire and it streamed Drive just fine.

Additionally Drive is now available on Blu-ray:

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  • Anonymous

    I find it annoying that Flixster won’t play my movies on a rooted device.   My tablet (ViewSonic GTab) came with Froyo, so a third party ROM is required to get Honeycomb, but then Fixster still refuses to give me my content.

  • Anonymous

    Glad to see you have “drived” into Ultraviolet. There needs to be more tech savvy people in the media familiar with how it works to offset the angry tirade of iTunes users that just don’t get it. Why would you want a lousy SD copy of your movies that is stuck to your local computer when you could have access to your movie from almost any device from the cloud in HD? Sometimes I feel like I am it’s only supporter. I now have 12 UV movies with all 4 studios and while the process has been rocky it is only going to get better. I just can’t wait for disc to digital to get here so I can access all my movies from the cloud in HD! Try that iTunes users!

  • http://twitter.com/JamesMontemagno James Montemagno

    I did not know that. For tech savy people that root that is def an issue, I think more now than ever with the lower cost tablets that have come out recently. I have to try it on my Kindle Fire to see if it works. What would be great is if they just tied it into netflix since it is on every device.

  • Anonymous

    Good idea James. I would be really interested to know if it Ultraviolet movie streaming works with the build of Flixster on the Fire.

  • http://twitter.com/JamesMontemagno James Montemagno

    I just tested it on the Kindle Fire and it streamed just fine.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Nice to know since I am considering picking up a Fire.