I have never been a fan of the Ultraviolet process for the digital copies of films.
I blogged in 2013 about my dissatisfaction with the Ultraviolet process for getting hold of the digital copies of the films I had bought.
You didn’t even use Ultraviolet to watch the films, you needed to use a different service, in the UK that meant using Flixter.
I never liked the Flixter app for watching films, it crashed way too often. It never remembered where you got into a film, so you had to either start watching it again, or try and fast forward to where you had left off. In theory you could download and watch the film offline, but I found that even then the app would try and authenticate online.
In January 2018 I blogged about how I was expecting to use Ultraviolet to access the digital copy, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I got an iTunes digital copy.
I got e-mails in early 2019 informing me that the Ultraviloet service was going to shut down in July 2019. I didn’t think that would be too much on an issue as it was indicated that I would still be able to access my movie collection through Flixter regardless of the demise of Ultraviolet.
Now it would appear that with the demise of Ultraviolet that Flixter has also decided to shut up shop.
In theory I won’t lose my digital films as they will be transferred to Google Play.
I am slightly disappointed I didn’t have any choice in which service they will be transferred to, as I usually either use iTunes or Amazon Video. I have a few films on Google Play, but I usually don’t use it. Looks like I will be using it more now.
Every few years you often need to re-tune your Freeview TV as the way the channels are organised and broadcast changes. Sometimes my TV lets me know, sometimes it’s a broadcaster that says something on air (which I usually miss) and more usually I find a load of channels missing and wonder what happened. This was certainly the case when my children mentioned missing channels on our Sony KDL48W605. So a quick check of the Freeview website and it was apparent that a re-tune was needed of the TV.
If the TV needed doing, I guessed that EyeTV on my Mac would also need to do it too. The mechanism for doing this is, is not entirely intuitive. What you have to do, is to use the EyeTV Setup Assistant.
Go through the screens until you reach Auto-Tune TV Channels and then click the Auto-Tune button.
So I let the EyeTV software do its job and all my channels were back to how they should be.
I can’t quite believe I have been using EyeTV 410 for over fifteenyears now and that the original Firewire based hardware is still working, though the software has gone through a few upgrades.
The EyeTV 410 has a DVB-T digital TV tuner that allows you to both watch Freeview TV on your Mac, but also record it. You can then export it to watch on mobile devices. It’s also possible to stream live TV and recorded programmes to mobile devices, not just on the local network, but it’s also possible do that over the internet.
As with Digital TVs, the EyeTV uses the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) that is transmitted alongside the video.
I was having a few issues with the EPG as it was picking up any information from the BBC channels. I could view the channels, but no channel information was available, which meant I couldn’t (easily) set recordings, though with iPlayer I do that less and less now.
I checked for software updates, no the software was up to date.
I tried to Update the DVB Programme Guide, but that didn’t work.
I then cleared the EPG database.
That didn’t work either.
I then went through the setup assistant which is accessed through the EyeTV menu.
You usually use the assistant when setting up the device, but now and again I find it useful to “reset” the EyeTV settings, or when Freeview require a re-tune.
Going to the Auto-Tune TV Channels screen of the assistant, I clicked Auto-Tune and let the assistant do its job.
This worked and I could see the channel information for the BBC channels in the EPG.
Back in 2010 or thereabouts when buying movies, I would generally go for the what the trade called triple play movies, these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device.
With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video. Since December 2011, I noticed that the trend was to use Ultraviolet DRM.
I blogged about the challenges I had with this back in 2013. Eventually I did manage to get the login processes sorted out with Ultraviolet and Flixter. Over the years I have built up a collection of films on Flixter. However compared to the user experience in iTunes it was never a smooth journey.
I had major challenges with my version of Edge of Tomorrow, resulting in being unable to play the downloaded film on my iPad. This was sorted out after numerous e-mails to Flixter support.
Another annoyance for me was that the Flixter app wouldn’t remember where I had got to in a film, if I had not finished watching. I would then need to work out where I was.
I also found it frustrating that I couldn’t play my Flixter films through an HDMI cable (via an adapter) to my TV or use Airplay. I suppose they thought if you wanted to watch on the big screen you would use the Blu-Ray disc.
The end result was that, I generally stopped specifically buying versions with a digital copy so would buy the Blu-Ray only. Also many studios appeared to stop selling the triple play format. I often found it easier to buy films from iTunes direct or more recently using Amazon Video after a good experience with Amazon Prime Video.
I had gone out and bought the DVD version of the film and had stored the Blu-Ray version of the film aiming to sell it at some point. However feeling guilty that the Blu-Ray disc may be “corrupted” I had never actually done this, I didn’t want to sell a dud disc to anyone, so was wanting to check that it wasn’t a dud disc by using someone else’s Blu-Ray player. This I never got round to. This Christmas though, the family present was the XBox One S which can play Blu-Ray discs. Receiving the new Planet of the Apes film reminded me that I had Dawn of the Planet of the Apes so tried it out and it worked. I then decided now I had both discs out to redeem the digital codes.
So I started Flixter on the iPad, followed the instructions, which meant searching for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the Flixter library and entering the redemption code (a much simpler process than it was back in 2013). I then checked the code for War for the Planet of the Apes. I followed the same instructions I had done for Dawn, but I couldn’t find War for the Planet of the Apes. Okay lets read the instructions… it said to go foxredeem.com and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could download War for the Planet of the Apes in an iTunes format (which I did).
Now I am not sure when 20th Century Fox stopped using Ultraviolet, but though still DRM, the iTunes format has worked much better for me than Ultraviolet.
So what about War for the Planet of the Apes, well I’ve not watched it yet…
I am writing an open letter to all three companies as I have no real idea who is responsible or who is to blame and I am unsure of how this can be resolved.
For Christmas I received The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Blu-Ray, this had been purchased from Amazon.
I unwrapped the Blu-Ray and put it into my LG BD360-P Blu-Ray player. However it did not play, I got an error message saying “Check Disk”. I did check the disk, and there did not appear to be a physical issue with the disk.
I checked the firmware on my LG Blu-Ray player and it was up to date. I also turned everything off and back on. Still no joy, I was still getting the “Check Disk” error.
I did a Google search and it was apparent that I wasn’t alone, other people were having the same issue with the same Blu-Ray disk and the same LG Blu-Ray player. According the online information the problem is with the encryption used by 20th Century Fox on The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Blu-Ray disk, this means that my Blu-Ray player can’t read the disk.
As a result I am now unsure and confused about what I can do as a consumer.
As far as Amazon are concerned there is no fault with the disk and probably wouldn’t accept a return this long after purchase and the wrapping has been removed.
20th Century Fox won’t replace the disk with one that works, as far as they concerned the disk isn’t faulty and they would only replace it with the same disk with the same encryption issues. They will probably blame the Blu-Ray player manufacturer.
As for LG, they are no longer updating the firmware for what is now quite an old Blu-Ray player and would probably point me back to the company that released the disk.
So the end result is I have no idea where to go and I have a Blu-Ray of a film I am unable to watch.
So do you have any idea? Maybe I should have bought it on iTunes.
It was apparent that the problem was not with the TV in itself, but with the services provided by Sony. It does demonstrate the reliance that these kinds of devices have on external services. If the decision is made to switch them off, there is very little that the end consumer can do to stop this from happening. Additionally the closed nature of these devices means that you can’t (or if you can not easily) add these services back.
I have been playing with a Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2000 HD video camera and it comes with a docking station which has an HDMI connection.
I thought if I docked the camera and connected the docking station via HDMI to my TV I could watch the video and see the photographs I had taken on my TV.
Well that’s what I thought what would happen.
Well no it didn’t, even though the cables were connected, the playback was still on the camera and not on the TV.
I then thought, it might be because the dock was not connected to a power supply, I did that and still the TV remained blank, though this time the camera went blank too!
So I went to read the manual, which was to be honest no use at all. It gave no additional information, as according to it, what I was doing was what I should be doing. As for the troubleshooting guide, well that was not very insightful.
Even the Google failed me with finding a solution.
Going to try with a different TV and see if that helps. However it shouldn’t be this complicated and this challenging, it should just work!
When Netflix started in the UK back in January 2012 I was quite intrigued having heard about it a lot on TWiT network podcasts.
I was initially disappointed with the range of films and television programmes, older films and television series, but did give it a go. So I have now been subscribing for well over a year and have certainly watched some good tv series and films.
This month though I have decided to relinquish my subscription. The main reason is threefold, since moving house and changing from FTTC back down to ADSL, streaming video has been a bit of an issue, more so when other people in the house want to use the internet tubes. There has been a fair few times I have cursed Netflix for stuttering, only to find out that my son was streaming BBC iPlayer at the same time! Secondly, I am not really using it very much, I seem to be watching a lot less television as I get older and certainly a lot more selective; this leads into the third reason which is what I am actually watching on Netflix in the main are repeats of things I have seen before. For example I re-watched BBC’s Hustle and enjoyed that, but I had seen that on the TV before. I am certainly not taking advantage of other stuff on there. As for films, they do add new films regularly, but apart from the “B” movie dross that use to fill the shelves of your local video rental place, there are very few films that I want to watch and many of the new films I do want to watch I have found I have already seen at the cinema, I bought the Blu-Ray or rented the DVD from the local library.
So after a little consideration I am going to terminate my subscription and say goodnight to Netflix.
In recent years I have been buying, what the trade call, triple play movies, these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device. Though more expensive than just buying the Blu-Ray (or just the DVD) what I did like about it was I could watch the film on my TV and then if I wanted to watch it again I could watch it on my laptop or on my iPad.
With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video.
More recently, well since December 2011, I have noticed is that the trend now is to use Ultraviolet.
UltraViolet (UV) is a digital rights authentication and cloud-based licensing system that allows users of digital home entertainment content to stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. UltraViolet adheres to a “buy once, play anywhere” approach that allows users to store digital proof-of-purchases under one account to enable playback of content that is platform- and point-of-sale-agnostic.
In theory what you do (in the UK) is sign up to Flixster and then you can redeem your Ultraviolet code and watch or download your movie.
I say “in theory” as I haven’t actually managed to do this process. The first time I signed up, I think I some how managed to sign myself up as an American. This would have been pointless as I wouldn’t have been able to access my “UK only” films. There was also no way to change your country. this is obviously to stop regional piracy. I do think that these “piracy” measures are short-sighted, as what they are actually doing is stopping me, an actual customer who has paid for the film, from watching the film; whilst the actual pirates wouldn’t even worry about such things, probably using a copy from the film studio or similar…
I have to say that is one thing that does annoy me after spending my hard earned cash on a DVD or Blu-Ray the first thing I see (and usually you can’t fast forward or skip it) is a clip telling me not to pirate films… Hello? I bought the film, I didn’t pirate it, I bought it, why tell me something I already know and do. If I pirated a film, I wouldn’t see that clip would I, so why show customers who are honest, want to watch the film, a stupid clip telling them to buy films… they did. I wouldn’t mind so much, but half the time you are “forced” to watch the clip, as they have restricted the capability to skip or fast forward the clip. Why don’t they put that clip on pirated films?
So back to Ultraviolet, so of course I tried to sign up again, and it wouldn’t let me, as I had already signed up… When I tried a different e-mail address, that didn’t work it timed out. In the end I gave up.
I think part of the problem was that I was trying to do all this on my iPad. Why the iPad, well I wanted to watch the film on the iPad.
I think the best option will be to do it all on a PC and then hopefully, if Ultraviolet will allow it, then it will let me access the films on the iPad.
Everytime I think about writing about something which is described by others as “dead” I try to avoid it, as I seem to have gained a bit of a reputation in the edtech world as, well as I was once described as the “Grim Reaper of Education” and “it’s not dead until James Clay says it’s dead”. However I did find this article from The Verge about the death of 3D quite interesting and illuminating.
As it happens if you are looking out for a source of tech news, I do like The Verge, as well as a very nice looking site, there are a range of news and reviews, and more than just repeating press releases or what other sites have said. If you like Engadget, you will like this, if you like The Register, probably less so…
If you attended CES in the US in the last few years, you would have been bombarded with 3D images. There has been a huge focus in the cinema in 3D films, the one that most people would remember was Cameron’s Avatar, but Hugo received a fair few positive reviews. The recent released Hobbit is available in 3D and the movie companies have spent a fair bit of time and money retrofitting existing 2D films into 3D, Titanic for example!
As well as cinematic 3D, there has been a fair few marketing dollars thrown at 3D in the home, 3D HDTVs have been available for a few years now, and aren’t that much more expensive than a 2D TV. You of course need some 3D content, the BBC have experimented with 3D and Sky offer a fair bit in 3D. You could also get 3D Blu Ray discs, but you need a 3D Blu Ray player for those.
The question I would ask you, and remembering that you are reading this blog, so are probably interested in technology, do you have a 3D TV?
Are you planning to buy a 3D TV?
What was the last film you saw in 3D?
Most people I know who are “into” technology and like gadgets generally “may” watch 3D at the cinema, but they don’t have a 3D TV and won’t have a 3D camera either!
I will say that I am slightly biased in that I am not a great fan of 3D, given the choice I will take the 2D option.
3D is not a new thing that has “just arrived” it’s been around for years and every so often comes to the fore. I do remember spending good money and going to see Jaws 3D, which was a disaster of a movie and the 3D added nothing…
Apart from the odd experiment on TV, the next big thing I remember seeing with 3D was Cyberworld at the IMAX in Bristol. You had to wear these huge 3D glasses and the 3D only really worked if you sat in the middle of the IMAX cinema. The 3D was really only a gimmick, the film had no real story or plot. It was very much about showing off the 3D IMAX technology.
In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of 3D in the cinema. Some would say this was an attempt to make cinema, as in the cinematic experience different (well the movie companies would say better) than watching a film on your TV (or a pirated film on your laptop). However now with 3D on your TV, I can’t see this now as an unique feature that makes the cinema different to the home cinema experience. You can watch 3D at the cinema and now you can watch 3D at home.
I should say that I really like going to the cinema, and the cinematic experience is in many ways so much better and superior than watching the same film on a TV, even a big HD TV. So similarly I do understand that the 3D experience in the cinema is different to the 3D experience at home. I also can’t see the point of retrofitting 3D to films shot in 2D, this is in my opinion just a gimmick.
I have seen a few 3D films in the cinema, I saw Toy Story 3 and Tintin, though if it had been my choice I would have chosen the 2D versions. I did initially think it was very clever, but within ten minutes or so I wasn’t noticing the 3D and was just enjoying the film. When there was a 3D “moment” I found it more annoying than wow!
So if 3D is defunct, can’t bring myself to say dead, what is the next big thing in video? Well according to the pundits who attended CES it is 4K or ultra HD as some marketing people are calling it.
As you are aware 1080p HD is four times the quality of standard definition television, 4K is around four times the quality of 1080p HD. Some say it’s like looking out of a window.
So do you prefer 3D films over 2D? Or are you looking forward to 4K? Or are you saying I prefer the radio!