Star War and the Digital Licensing Migraine

Where to buy your digital copy of the Star War movie franchise. Well since the “Episode IV A New Hope” is owned by 21st Century Fox it is licensed with the DECE’s UVVU (Ultraviolet). While the remainder of the franchise is owned by Lucas Films. Which has been acquired by Disney, making this titles part of Disney’s Key Chest platform and DMA (Disney Movies Anywhere). Since neither Amazon Video or Xbox Video support the DECE’s UVVU or Disney’s Key Chest licensing services, they handle the licensing themselves. While Google Play and iTunes have their own little twist on handling the licensing. They both support Disney’s Key Chest and DMA, but not the DECE’s UVVU. Which means that they both handle the licensing for “Episode IV A New Hope” themselves. While the rest of the collection is handled by Disney’s Key Chest and DMA. This brings us to VUDU the last of the major video content hosting services. VUDU happily supports both the DECE’s UVVU and Disney’s Key Chest licensing services it seems to be the perfect chose to make your purchase from. That is until we start reviewing the various playback options.

Playback on an Android device for purchases made from Amazon, Google Play, and VUDU are supported via native apps. If however you purchased the collection from iTunes, your out of luck for “Episode IV A New Hope”, but the rest of the collection can be viewed with the VUDU or the Disney Movies Anywhere apps. While purchases from Xbox Video are not available. But with Microsoft increased interest in being cross platform for their services I expect this to change fairly soon.

Playback on the Amazon Fire TV devices, if you purchased from Amazon is supported from their native app. However if you did not make your purchase from Amazon, you have no playback options. With the exception of “Episode IV A New Hope” purchased from VUDU. Since VUDU supports the DECE’s UVVU you can use the Flixster app for playback. However the rest of the collection is licensed under Disney’s Key Chest and as a result not playable on the Fire TV platform.

Now the viewing options on the Xbox One & 360 platforms for purchases made from Xbox Video, Amazon Video or VUDU. Can easily be handled by the native apps on the platform for each of these services. If by chance you choose to purchase the collection from Google Play or iTunes which both support Disney’s Key Chest though their association with DMA. You will be able to use the VUDU app to play most of the titles in the collection. The only exception is “Episode IV A New Hope” which is not licensed with either DECE’s UVVU or Disney’s Key Chest.

If you are using a MAC or PC for viewing your purchase, you have a number of options available for streaming. Offline viewing is another matter altogether. While most of the services support offline viewing, Amazon however does not allow offline viewing. They recently ended their support for offline viewing.

The iOS platform covers several devices including the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple TV. While the Apple TV is an iOS device its playback options differ from the other devices on this platform. Purchases form iTunes are of course covered on all iOS devices including the Apple TV. Amazon, Google Play and VUDU all have app on iOS devices with the exception of the Apple TV. On the Apple TV purchases from Google Play or VUDU will appear in you iTunes library, with the exception of “Episode IV A New Hope”. This is do to the fact that neither service currently supports the DECE’s UVVU licensing service. If you purchased from VUDU you can also view “Episode IV A New Hope” from the Flixster app, since they both support the DECE’s UVVU licensing service. As for your purchases made from Xbox Video, you currently have no playback options available on the iOS platforms. Of course this will more then likely change since Microsoft is expanding their support for other platforms.

Now we are down to the Microsoft Windows mobile platforms. Which include the Windows Phone and Windows RT (i.e. Surface, and Surface RT) devices. Purchases made from Xbox video will work via the native apps for these platforms. Since Amazon does not support DECE’s UVVU or Disney’s Key Chest licensing platforms, the only playback option is the browse which is only support on the Windows RT devices. Purchases made from the VUDU service are watchable with the Flixster app, unfortunately this does not include the “Episode IV A New Hope” title however. Google Play and iTunes purchases currently have no playback options on either of these Microsoft platforms. Since neither of these hosting services supports the DECE’s UVVU licensing platform. While both services do support Disney’s Key Chest platform, there are currently no apps that do have support for Disney’s Key Chest or DMA.

There is still one major playback device platform and that is the Roku, unfortunately I have zero experience with it. But since Xbox Video does not have a Roku channel and does not support either of the licensing services. It is fairly safe to assume that if you have bought the “Star Wars” collection from Xbox video you can not watch it on Roku device. However purchases from Amazon Video, Google Play, VUDU should all be viewable since each of these stores do have channels available. iTunes also does not have a Roku channel, but if you purchased your collection from iTunes you should be able to utilize the VUDU channel for viewing your purchases. With the exception of “Episode IV A New Hope”, which has it’s license being managed by iTunes.

So there are no perfect solutions that covers all devices and platforms. Which can not happen until both the DECE’s UVVU and Disney’s key Chest licensing platforms are supported by the major hosting services (Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, VUDU and Xbox). Or the DECE and DMA decide to cross license their platforms, so that titles are available on both platforms when registered with either one. The consumer is going to have a headache when the try to figure out where to purchase their digital movie titles. Especially if the have devices across multiple platform within there homes.

And…

Don’t get me started on when a device is a family device (Mac, PC, Apple TV) or an individuals device (phone, or tablet).

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LumenPlay and iTwinkle review

I am not really a writer but since I have both the iTwinkle and the LumenPlay lights. I though I would put my thoughts about these product out there. Hopefully they will prove useful to others.

iTwinkle – Cons:

  • No way to expand or extend a string. If you have a long run that requires more then 36 bulbs you can not link the strings so they act as one.
  • No real customization. The current software only allows you to select from a limited number of predefined patterns all of which are hideous. Other options include a completely random “Shake Me” pattern, again all hideous. Sync to music of an open Mic, mad unless since the strings all duplicate the same patterns. The last option is a solid color of your choice, which is the only one I have found to be useful.
  • Uses an outdate bluetooth standard. On an android device I could only control one string at a time, while on iOS I was able to control more string at a time (up to 3). It was inconvenient since I had to keep going into bluetooth settings to connect and disconnect the string. Which could not be renamed so I knew which one I was selected. They all where named “00651 36L RGB”, making control difficult at best.

iTwinkle – Pros:

  • Build quality is fantastic. The bulbs base allows them to set flush. The 3 strand ribbon wire connection are on the side of the build housing, not the bottom which give you great mounting options.
  • They include every thing needed to mount these lights.
  • The included power “Wall Wart” is connected to the string with a two pin barrel connector. Which will allow you to replace the “Wall Wart”, or if you can find a compatible barrel connector you will be able to route the power so it is more convenient. I was able to drill small hole in the eve flashing and put the “Wall Wart” in the attic since access there, getting the power brick out of the elements.

As you can see the most of the issues with the iTwinkle lights are software based, so with some luck the existing product will become far more useful. As for the the lack of extendibility, software may allow for the linking or sequencing of the string as well.

LumenPlay – Cons:

  • The only real con I have found has to do with mounting.  These light strings use traditional wiring, that is twisted collection of wires connected to the bottom of the bulb housing. Additionally the bulb housing is thin about 1/4″ – 3/8″, so most mounting method that are designed for c9 bulbs do not work well. I have yet to find a means of mounting these so the bulb set as securely as I was able to achieve with the iTwinkle lights.
  • Pricing, The price per bulb ($4.99) is a bit high when compared with the iTwinkle product. ($1.91)

LumenPlay – Pro:

  • These string can be extended so a single controller can handle to to 500 lights. LOVE THIS FEATURE, and this is the only reason I would consider them at this price per bulb.
  • The software is fantastic, you can control the bulb color. In fact you can control the bulbs color pattern, up to 8 different colors can be selected.  Additionally you can apply one of 10 different effects, controlling its speed and direction. And as a bonus you can control the brightness of the string as well.

As you can see I really like the LumenPlay light strings. The only complaint that I have beyond the pricing is that I can not find a mounting method that is as good as the light them selves. As for the pricing when compared with the competition… I was able to get the iTwinkle light at Lowe’s for $69.00 for a string of 36 bulbs, which gives us a price of $1.91 per bulb. While the price of the LumenPlay was 79.99 for the starter pack and 59.99 for the extension strings. Making the Controller price of about $20.00 and a per bulb price of $4.99. Which i feel is a bit high.

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