In the good old days, we bought or rented movies on disc and the ones we bought wound up in a cabinet or on a shelf. Whenever you wanted to watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the umpteenth time, you grabbed the disc and popped it into your DVD/Blu-ray player - or rented it again.
In 2014, we log onto Netflix.com and select a movie for streaming directly to a laptop/computer, phone, tablet, or TV. As long as you have a solid Internet connection, streaming is quick and simple.
Okay, we're exaggerating a bit. Many of us still buy or rent discs. But there's no denying that streaming is coming on strong. More than 40 million U.S. homes have a TV that's connected to the Internet today. That's a big change from five or six years ago when streaming was still largely a curiosity.
One key difference between the old way of movie watching and the new way is that when you buy a disc, you own it and can play it whenever and wherever you want. When you stream a movie, once the final credits roll it disappears into the ether. You can stream it again but you don't physically own anything. Same goes for renting discs once you've returned them.
A Cloud Library Controlled by You
What if you could set up a virtual movie library where you own the rights to movies and TV shows you cherish without physically owning the discs? Or maybe you'd like to have digital copies of discs you already own so you can stream or download those movies to a laptop, phone, or tablet anytime, anywhere and as many times as you want.
A company called UltraViolet (UV) is promising all that and more with their offering of a digital-rights library in the cloud. Here's how it works: Create a UV account, and whenever you buy a movie carrying the purple UV logo (on disc or for download from an online service like Vudu), you can "add" it to your UV library by following redemption instructions provided with the disc or online. (We've put quotes around "add" because UV keeps track of digital content you own, but doesn't actually store the movie files - they remain on the servers of the studio or online service where you made the purchase.)
One feature of UV is that you can obtain digital copies of DVDs and Blu-ray discs you already own using Vudu's Disc to Digital service. Download the Vudu To Go app to your PC, insert the disc you want to digitize, and if the movie is available for conversion (not all are), you can pay to create a digital copy or upgrade a DVD copy to high-definition. The same service is available in Walmart stores, but you have to schlep your discs into the store.
Virtually all of the major movie studios support UV, except Disney, which has its own Digital Copy Plus system. Once a movie is in your UV library, you can download a copy for offline on-the-go viewing and share your library with up to five other people. Another benefit to acquiring movies in digital form: You'll be able to get your hands on blockbuster releases two or three weeks before they come out on disc.
To learn more about home entertainment options, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.