Finished with Flixter

Finished with Flixter

I have finally finished my relationship with Flixter and moved all my films to Google Play.

When I first started buying Blu-Rays I would purchase 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 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.

So I was not happy when the film distributers changed from iTunes to Ultraviolet. I blogged about this dissatisfaction with the Ultraviolet process for getting hold of the digital copies of the films I had bought, back in 2013. The process was convoluted and initially didn’t even work for me. You didn’t even use Ultraviolet to play the video files, you needed another service (and app) to do that and that’s where Flixter came in.

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. In June I got e-mails about how Flixter was going to shut down too. I was quite pleased to see the end of both Ultraviolet and Flixter.

I wasn’t going top lose my films though, as they would be migrated to another service. This has always been a concern of mine about digital copies of films, especially those with DRM, what would happen to my collection if the service stopped working? I was slightly disappointed I didn’t have any choice in which service they were to be transferred to, as I usually either use iTunes or Amazon Video. The solution Flixter had chosen was Google Play, I have a few films on that service, but I usually don’t use it.

Google Play

This week I got an e-mail from Flixter which described how I would migrate my collection from Flixter to Google Play. It was a pretty seamless process and now I have a large collection of films in my Google Play Library.

Google Play, Fun, Games and Pirates

The Pirates

One of the benefits of buying the Google Nexus Seven was getting £15 worth of credit for the Google Play store. The reason behind this was simple, from Google’s perspective, in getting you use to buying stuff from Google Play, so in future after exhausting the credit you’ll buy more.

I wanted to get a good idea of how everything worked… however here in the UK we get nowhere near the quality and quantity of stuff you can get in the US. So it was actually quite hard to find things. True apps were easy and I had already bought apps for my Nexus One phone, so the majority of these could be installed on the Nexus Seven without buying them again. One app I did install was Doubletwist which as well as allowing me to very easily copy music over to the Nexus Seven from iTunes on my Mac, can also stream video using AirPlay to my AppleTV. After installing I did test it out and I was pleased with how it worked. I used a clip that I had recorded using EyeTV and encoded for the iPhone as it happens. No it wasn’t 1080p HD, but the video quality was certainly acceptable and the wireless streaming worked well.

I did buy a book to try out the reading experience and was quite pleased. It was a similar experience to reading on the iPad, but the size of the device, been lighter than the iPad, made the reading experience easier, whilst the bigger screen made it a much nicer experience than reading on a phone. Of course, unlike Kindle books, it wasn’t possible to move around devices as you can with Kindle apps and devices.

I also wanted to try video from Google Play, alas you can’t buy films, only rent them (and no television programmes). I really can’t see Google Play replacing iTunes for me, as it doesn’t have the content that you can get on iTunes. Having decided to rent a film, I made the decision to rent Pirates from Aardman.

The Pirates

Having initially clicked “buy” on the Nexus Seven I could have started watching straight away… knowing the (poor) speed of my ADSL connection I decided not to. You could download your rental, so decided that would be more sensible than streaming. I set the Nexus Seven to download overnight and when I checked the next morning it was all fine.

With renting, you have 30 days to watch the film, and once you start watching you just have just two days to watch it. So though I was tempted to have a glimpse to see video quality I knew if I did that I would probably never to get to see the rest of the film.

When we got round to watching it, I spent a fair bit of time working out how to stream the film from the Nexus Seven, via AirPlay through the AppleTV to my TV. Hmmm though it is possible to do this with video you put on the device, alas DoubleTwist does not allow you to stream videos protected by Google Play DRM. There is no HDMI out, or any other video out for the Nexus Seven, making it nigh on impossible to view the video on a screen other than the Nexus Seven screen. In the end we watched Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs on Netflix instead straight from the AppleTV.

Not wanting to try and all crowd round the 7” screen of the Nexus Seven I tried to think of a solution. In the end it was quite easy. I went to Google Play on Chrome on my MacBook Retina which has an HDMI slot, connected it to the TV direct. Initially I wasn’t allowed to stream as I had downloaded it on the Nexus Seven… I found if I removed that downloaded file from the Nexus Seven then Google Play would stream from Chrome on the laptop.

Doing this allowed me to change the resolution to 480p. I was initially worried that my slow ADSL connection would cause buffering issues, however in the end we didn’t have single buffering problem.

Doing this allowed me to change the resolution to 480p. I was initially worried that my slow ADSL connection would cause buffering issues, however in the end we didn’t have single buffering problem.

I was impressed with the quality of the video, it looked great on my 40” TV. My only disappointment was that I was forced away from the Nexus Seven to watch it and use another device. As a personal device, the Nexus Seven is great for watching video, but if everyone in the family wants to watch the video then unlike the iPad the Nexus Seven didn’t work for us.