Have you ever wanted to take an old DVD from your collection and transfer it to your laptop, phone or tablet, but had neither the time or know-how to make that happen? Typically, your only choices would be to lug a portable DVD player around and a stack of DVDs with you or use an online service like Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes or the Android Marketplace. The antiquated way requires the hauling around of bulky equipment while the newer ways to watch movies require a great internet connection for an enjoyable experience.
Wal-Mart aims to offer a solution to that dilemma next month when they begin rolling out a new DVD-to-digital service at their 3500+ store locations. Wal-Mart worked out a deal with five of the biggest studios in Hollywood – 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. – to allow customers to bring in their own DVDs and have them stored digitally on an internet “cloud.”
Starting on April 16th, for the modest sum of $2, anyone can bring a DVD to a Wal-Mart Photo Center and have it transferred digitally to a Vudu account (Wal-Mart’s online streaming movie service). Or for $5, users can have a standard DVD upgraded to a High Definition copy. Either way, Wal-Mart will stamp each DVD to ensure that none are uploaded more than once. Rented DVDs from Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster or other types of rental services are not eligible for transfer.
Customers will then be able to access their newly uploaded films through their Vudu account, which will now be part of the UltraViolet online movie network. Previously, Vudu allowed customers to rent movies – including new movies on the same day they are released – which gave it a leg up on companies like Netflix who has to wait 28 days for new releases. UltraViolet provides a slightly different service by allowing customers to download, stream or transfer movies between devices once purchased but those movies must be part of the UltraViolet library. One notable and major drawback to the service UltraViolet provides is the obvious lack of older titles available for purchase, but this new DVD-to-digital service offered by Wal-Mart should change all that.
While at first glance this seems like a win-win situation, there are limitations – namely the number of titles available for digital conversion. Only movies produced and previously converted by those five studios will be eligible for transfer. So, that copy of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four you bought on VHS at WonderCon in 1995 cannot be transferred digitally to your tablet – sorry. Also, most of these studios have not yet converted all their titles to a digital format – Universal still has around 700 films from its 1300 film library yet to convert. In addition, access to your films will require that UltraViolet’s cloud stay up and running with very few interruptions. It also assumes the company won’t eventually go belly up leaving all your copies drifting through cyberspace.
However, the upsides to this new service seem to outweigh the potentially bad, not the least of which is being able to transfer the movie between multiple devices. Let’s say you are waiting in line (for days) to purchase tickets to see The Hunger Games or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and want to pass the time watching Fletch on your tablet but the battery dies – no worries, just stream or download the film to your phone or laptop. This new service will be a great option for parents who usually have to drag every one of their kids’ DVDs along on a road trip. Now they can just download all those digital copies to their laptop and let the good (and quiet) times roll.
Follow me on Twitter (@Walwus) and tell me what DVD I should convert first – Out for Justice or The Towering Inferno?
Source: L.A. Times