First off you can sign up for a free trial which provides a month of free service. The service includes unlimited streaming to web browsers and mobile devices with other consumer electronic support coming soon. But not only is this a streaming service it also comes with four DVD retals at Redbox kiosks every month. After your free trial ends the service costs $8 per month.
That is some deal. A similar subscription from Netflix costs twice that amount ($7.99 for streaming and $7.99 for one-DVD-at-a-time by mail = $15.98).
The downside is Netflix has been spending a lot of capital to procure titles for many years now so Redbox is behind on that front. Just a brief glace at the offers showed several new releases (like Denzel Washington’s latest Flight) but mainly a lot of title you’ve never heard of before (The Hit List, Dolan’s Cadillac, etc.).
It’s a free trial, what can you lose?
No more doubt that streaming is the future
Streaming is profitable, even unlimited subscription services, while physical disc sales and rentals are falling far behind. Even the convenience of Redbox isn’t keeping pace with streaming services.
Near my home there is an empty building bearing the once-ubiquitous name of Blockbuster. Right next door is a Walgreen’s pharmacy with a Redbox kiosk offering two renting terminals. I thought that was a telling example of how Blockbuster has failed. The convenience of picking up a movie almost anywhere just killed off Blockbuster.
Yet recently I’ve learned the convenience of renting movies from Amazon Instant Video even surpasses Redbox considering the rentals are nearly the same price, there are no penalties for returning the movie late, and you don’t even have to leave the house. Pairing Netflix with Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant Video means most movies are available quickly, conveniently and cheaply.
And it’s not just Amazon; iTunes, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Dish Network, DirecTV, Vudu, AT&T, Verizon, and other services all provide instant rental services at varying prices which can supplement the subscription services of Netflix and Hulu Plus.
I’m not totally over physical media. I love Blu-ray Disc quality, and I prefer to own physical copies of certain movies. I just don’t think every movie is worthy of Blu-ray Disc ownership, and when I’m rushing to pick up my kids from child care right after work, it’s so much easier to just rent the movie once I get home instead of stopping anywhere to pick up a movie, which may already be rented out.
Digital streaming is the future, and the faster the content providers can find out how to make it profitable the better.
Kaleidescape launches download store
Kaleidescape has launched the beta version of their online retail store for owners of a Kaleidescape System. Backed by a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the store is providing bit-for-bit downloads of DVD and Blu-ray Disc content directly to the Kaleidescape server.
How the process was described to me by a Kaleidescape representative is that Kaleidescape buys physical copies of the movies for each download and stores them in their own warehouse. This way the copyright license is intact without having to create a new digital version with its own license structure and licensing rights to be negotiated, and the studio gets their “disc” sale. This is also beneficial to the end user who doesn’t have to store the physical discs at home, and the download comes complete with the special features every DVD or BD comes with as well – unlike other digital versions. Obviously this is a hokey legal work around, so hopefully these high-quality, feature-full downloads will be available without the disc ownership issue in the future.
Because the data is bit-for-bit identical to the physical disc, the video resolution is not compromised, and the audio remains high-definition surround sound. Additionally, titles with UltraViolet digital copies provide additional digital access from tablets, smartphones, and computers.
To make things explicit: This is not a streaming service, but a complete digital download. The files are stored on the local hard drive, and played from the local server to the local player. Once the video is downloaded to the local Kaleidescape System, the full HD video will play immediately with no buffer.
The Kaleidescape System features a proprietary RAID hard drive array which prevents data loss, but if there is a catastrophe and the server data is lost, the downloaded titles may be downloaded from Kaleidescape again for no cost. Any titles loaded into the system at home would have to be loaded again from the physical disc.
The store will allow the end user to purchase individual titles, or they can select a complete collection to purchase. The store is smart enough to know what movies you already own so you won’t purchase multiple copies. For example: you can purchase a collection called “Academy Award Nominees — Best Picture” to purchase and download the entire listed collection, but if you already own the Lord of the Rings collection, those titles won’t be purchased.
One interesting collection is the Leonard Maltin Recommends collection, an exclusive to Kaleidescape partnership of movies selected by famed film critic Leonard Maltin.
One feature that isn’t active yet but I’m told will be is the ability to upgrade a DVD copy to a Blu-ray Disc copy. I’m not sure how this would work, and I won’t make any assumptions. The new high-def copy would replace the standard def version, but I’m not sure if the standard def version is completely wiped out or made available through the menu still. Some DVDs have different special features, so some collectors may want to have both. UPDATE: Kaleidescape claims DVDs can be upgraded to Blu-ray Disc for $8 each, to include all bonus features of the BD. This is only available to titles with UltraViolet HD rights.
The Kaleidescape System is expensive, but it’s also the best and only solution of its kind. If you have a few bucks and are serious about movies, find out where your local dealer is and ask for an in-home demonstration.
Roxio Easy VHS to DVD 3 Plus review
There are many reasons for converting old analog video to digital. Doing so allows you to retain video quality, as analog video tapes continually degrade when they are played. They even lose quality when they aren’t used, as aging & environmental factors can cause tape to deteriorate. Converting to digital allows you to preserve these videos without having to worry about the source tape media wilting away and becoming unplayable.
Converting video to a digital format also provides you with the flexibility to copy your video to a USB storage device, a DVD, a Blu-ray Disc or upload it to a website such as YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or countless other streaming video websites. This allows for portability and playback on computers, smartphones, iPods and other modern devices.
Bad news: Netflix burdened with longer DVD window
As if Netflix hasn’t had enough bad news recently, they’re now telling us Warner Bros. has extended the rental window from 28-days to 56-days. This means, instead of waiting a month to rent a new DVD or Blu-ray Disc, you now have to wait almost two months.
Warner Bros., along with many other Hollywood studios, had instituted a 28-day sales-only window for newly released DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in order to encourage disc-sales. Clearly the 28-day window was an homage to Danny Boyle, because sales of movies have not been bolstered by such a stupid plan.
It’s not clear why Netflix is entitled to such a long window as brick-and-mortar renters like Blockbuster (if they’re still into that sort of thing), and Redbox now get the titles a month earlier. Not that this was any different than before, because Netflix usually had long-waiting times for newly released movies anyway due to their demand. From reading the press release, it seems like they might be doing this to give UltraViolet and the Warner-owned Flixster an advantage over Netflix.
Read the press release after the break.
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UltraViolet has arrived
The most promising content ownership solution from the owners of properties has finally arrived. On October 11, Warner Home Video released Horrible Bosses on Blu-ray Disc and DVD with UltraViolet enabled. Warner is committed to including UltraViolet on all upcoming releases, including Green Lantern, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, and Shameless: The Complete First Season.
Sony has also announced the upcoming releases of The Smurfs and Friends With Benefits will be UltraViolet enabled.
Every major studio except Disney is on board with the technology, and there is massive support on the hardware manufacturer side as well. The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) group of companies is hoping to challenge the streaming or renting concept we’ve all embraced for one of true content ownership.
Best Buy and Walmart are both interested in selling UltraViolet hardware.
How it works
UltraViolet logos will be located on compatible Blu-ray Discs and DVDs, and inside there will be a redemption code. The user will set up an account at UVVU.com and enter the codes. The content will then be available for use on up to ten devices (PCs, HDTVs, BD players, mobile devices, etc). Up to six people may be registered on each account with access to the content.
Eventually, UltraViolet content will be available for purchase as digital-only, but this may be burned to disc by the end user.
Until UltraViolet-enabled hardware becomes available, owners of Horrible Bosses (and other future Warner Bros. UltraViolet content) will only be able to watch the digital copy at Flixster.com. Hardware support should follow in early 2012.
On September 19th, I put my Netflix account in an “on hold” status. This is the day that the new Netflix price increases were set to kick in for my account.
With my account in an on hold status, I won’t receive any Netflix service, but more importantly, they won’t receive any of my money, as all billing is halted.
So why did I do it and why am I writing about it? This move is just my little way of protesting their price increases, their poor “justifications” and their anti-customer behaviors. After all, the strongest consumer voice is the wallet.
Interestingly enough, the same day that I put my account on hold, Netflix announced that they were spinning off their DVD & Blu-ray Disc rentals into an entirely separate service dubbed Qwikster.
When I heard that Qwikster would require completely separate billing and queue management, I actually wasn’t that shocked. Netflix has been making dumb decisions and pissing off customers for quite some time now. By now I just expect them to do things that aren’t customer friendly.
I haven’t yet decided on whether I will be fully cancelling my Netflix account or removing the hold to reactivate service. At this point I’m still thinking about it and waiting to see what else the company will (or won’t) do.
In related news, I didn’t receive an email from Netflix regarding the Qwikster spin-off and I didn’t receive the “apology” email from CEO Reed Hastings, maybe because my account is on hold? If so, WTF?
According to rumors online, Netflix could lose up to 1/3 of their subscribers due to the recent fiascos. Is your service with Netflix or Qwikster still active or are you cutting them off?