now that we are in the digital age, things like cd, dvd, and even blu-ray seem quaint and antiquated when you sit them next to your shiny tablet.  and because of the movement toward digital, contents like music and movies have begun their march to the cloud for years now.  nowadays it is common for people to watch a movie on computers, tablets, and smart phones in lieu of tv and theaters.  enter Apple and UltraViolet (UV), two major providers of cloud services.  both of these services have been heavily discussed by all sorts of tech writers, so what I’m offering is from the perspective of a lay user: i give a first-hand account of my experience with both services.  your mileage may vary.

with either Apple or UltraViolet, you’re able to buy digital contents and consume them across multiple smart devices.  UltraViolet is the younger of the two, so Apple enjoys a healthy advantage just for being around way longer than UV.  one distinction between Apple and UV is that UV offers movies only, while Apple offers multiple types of digital content.  if you still buy dvd or blu-ray movies, you’ve probably seen stickers on the case telling you the movie contains a digital copy of the film, whether for Apple or UV.  so besides buying movies directly online, you can also get them as a package from buying physical discs.

let’s say you’re going with Apple products.  one of the biggest limitations, and perhaps the biggest gripe many people have about Apple, is that you must live within the Apple ecosystem.  when you buy a movie from Apple, you’re locked into the Apple service––which means you have to use Apple products in order to use the Apple digital contents.  i think this is why some tech users like to compare Apple to a cult; once you’re in, you’re in for good.  another complaint is that Apple is notorious for not offering refunds, so make sure you buy only what you really want.  you likely won’t get your money back if you just don’t like your movie.

and then there’s UV.  the process seems similar: you get movies online or through redeemable codes found inside your dvd/blu-ray movies.  that’s where the similarity ends, though.  to me, UV seems to be much more ambitious than Apple––they want a cross-platform reach, meaning you can watch your movies across different devices running different operating systems.  so if you own an iPhone and an Android tablet, UV wants you to be able to watch your movie on both devices.  good idea, right?  but then you run into the actual practice of the idea.

in order to set up everything for UV, you have to set up multiple accounts and download multiple apps for your smart device.  for example, say you bought Inception on blu-ray (a Warner Brothers movie), and it comes with a UV code for the digital copy.  in order to watch it on your iPad or iPhone, you have to set up a free account with UV first, roughly a 15-minute process.  then you need to set up another free account with Warner Brothers (WB) so you’re authorized to download the movie from WB.  finally, you have to set up an account with the app that plays the movie so you can link everything together.  hopefully, everything works after all your efforts and you can finally start to watch your film.  total time invested: 40 minutes to an hour.

if that sounds like a lot of work, it is.  from what i can tell, UV does not own the rights to any digital content.  they only provide the service to link and distribute your movies across platforms, but they don’t make any apps that will play movies on your device.  unfortunately, YOU are responsible for tracking down everything necessary to watch your movie.  if things don’t work, you have at least three entities to deal with, and they tend to push responsibilities around so issues don’t get resolved.

Apple, on the other hand, makes everything seamless.  once you buy the movie or enter your redeem code, your movie starts to download instantaneously.  you can buy the movie or enter your code on any of your Apple smart product as well as your Mac or desktop.  once downloaded, there are no additional apps to install; everything is built-in so you can watch your movie right away.  the process is as painless as breathing air.  if you have technical issues, Apple tends to be very good at fixing them.  true, you’re locked into the Apple ecosystem.  but with solid products and painless user experience, why wouldn’t you?

i think UV has a good idea, and if the company improves its process, UV may be a viable alternative to Apple.  for now, it’s a sucker’s bet.