Does the entertainment industry WANT people to steal movies? It seems like they do.

August 16, 2013 | Filed Under Computers, Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Popculture | 1 Comment

This past week I got a brand new Sony Vaio laptop. It’s next gen i5, with an SSD, 8GB of RAM, and  does full 1080p HD.  It cost a pretty penny, but considering I wait on average 6 years between new computers, I think it’s worth it to wait and then get something that will hopefully last.

I want to be able to rent DOWNLOADABLE digital movies that I can watch at the cottage or on the road (as a passenger) on long trips.

I tried itunes first, since I have an account for my music.  Turns out that iTunes isn’t certified for Windows 8 (even though it’s been out for a YEAR and is now selling as the default O/S on a huge number of PCs and laptops).  Microsoft certifies that anything that runs on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8, so I tried the Windows 7 version of iTunes.  It installed and runs, but any attempt to play a downloaded (rented) HD movie results in juttery/stuttery, out of sync audio.    Turns out that it isn’t exclusively a Windows 8 problem. Even on Windows 7,  and XP, huge numbers of users were/are reporting problems with video playback through itunes and/or Windows Media player.  I tried EVERY conceivable fix posted (including changing power settings and setting audio bit rates to the bare minimum), and NOTHING worked.  The audio stuttered, and was out of sync with the video and it got progressively worse as the movie played.  I ended up requesting a refund through some crappy feedback form.

I’d love to try Amazon movies but unfortunately, they aren’t in Canada yet, so those aren’t available to me.

I’m SERIOUSLY trying to pay for my movies here people.   The industry is NOT making it easy.

Next, I tried Flixster.  I set up an account and a corresponding “Ultraviolet” account (see below), and then found out that even though their tagline says “Buy, Rent, and Watch TV and Movies”, I could find no way to buy or rent the movies I was interested in… the only option it gave me was to “Play trailer”…

I finally found CinemaNow, which has apparently partnered with the industry and Ultraviolet.   Ultraviolet is a cloud service that allows those who purchased an AV-labled DVD to also get access to a digital version of the movie via the ultraviolet service.  CinemaNow has a Canadian store.   They actually rent DOWNLOADABLE movies. Great.  I’ll try that.

First experience: I sign up and it says I get 10 FREE ultraviolet movies as a new subscriber. The selection is rather shitty, but ok, I’ll bite. I pick my 10 free movies after creating my CinemaNow account and linking to my previously created  (on flixster) “ultraviolet account”.  They say that Macs and PCs are compatible devices, and list Future Shop and BestBuy as places to get compatible devices, listing SONY as one of the brands in the ad.

I then proceed to rent a movie to try out the service.  The service say that you can rent SD (Standard Definition) or “Upgrade to view HD on compatible devices. SD playback included with HD purchase.” .  I chose the HD rental for $5.99.

Then I had to download and install the CinemaNow player, so that I could download my rental and play it (due to DRM, now doubt).  I did so and then launched the player and logged in.  It took me to my “library” where it showed my newly purchased rental with a tag indicating it was EXPIRED.  Not only that, but NONE of the UltraViolet movies I had selected showed up in my library.  Great.

This triggered a call to their telephone support.   Props that they even HAVE telephone support.  (Unlike the ITUNES STORE, where I am still awaiting feedback on my “this rental didn’t play at all properly” report, and a refund.)

While I waited for support to answer, I restarted the CinemaNow app, and the movie came up as not expired. But still no Ultraviolet movies (after all that agony of selecting the 10 least sucky ones!).  But then it would only allow me to download the SD version of the movie I had rented.   I figured I’d start that and find out how to get the HD version from the support person – since it said I could watch either once I had paid the HD price.

NOWHERE on the site or in the app, does it tell you how far the download has progressed, or how much longer it will take.  ARGH.

Despite the support queue being relatively short,  I was so dissatisfied with the support guy following the SCRIPT he had in front of him,  and not LISTENING to the problem, that I finally escalated to a manager.  The support person said, “Before I transfer you, I need to find out why you are asking to speak to a manager”.  Dude. Seriously?  I said, “Because I am not at all satisfied with the level of support I am currently receiving.”

The manager came on and finally admitted that their that their app and website only detect HD compatible TVs, game consoles and  blu-ray players, despite the fact that many laptops now have full HD capability, and that they were “having problems” with their software detecting HD-compatible Sony PCs right now.   Never mind I might use this, or any other MEDIA PC, to STREAM a download to an HD-compatible device, like a projector.    Their “protection” does not allow you to download or play the HD version if you are on a PC.  This is just ridiculous.    And it’s NOT AT ALL CLEAR on their website that HD versions are not available to download if you are on a PC – it still lets you buy/rent that version.  WTF?

And then there is the issue with the “free” UltraViolet movies. Admittedly free but still, CinemaNow, WHY do you have a DOWNLOAD button, if Ultraviolet movies are NOT downloadable and can only be watched in STREAMING mode?  (After yet another support request).  BZZZT. #FAIL   Oh, and when I tried to send a support request, I got THIS error:

error-1

When I tried to submit another support request, attaching the above screenshot error, I got THIS error (I know,I’m a glutton for punishment, but HOW HARD is it to get a damn support WEBSITE right? I mean, this is OUT OF THE BOX stuff people.)

error2

#CinemaNow #EPICFAIL

Dear entertainment industry. I REALLY REALLY want to be an honest citizen, but I don’t want to BUY a whole DVD just to watch a movie once.  I just want to rent it like I used to be able to, until all the rental places went out of business.  Besides, my new laptop doesn’t even HAVE a dvd player.  I’m willing to pay reasonable money to rent.  But you aren’t giving me any workable options.  If I could pay the rental price and download from iTunes and play in VLC, I’d happily do it. But Apple can’t see fit to PROPERLY SUPPORT anything not in the Apple Universe, despite being willing to take our money.

And while on the subject of Apple. SERIOUSLY.  I’ve read the support forums. LOADS of people are having problems with video playback in iTunes. People are upgrading their laptops and finding whole LIBRARIES of purchases no longer work.  Windows 8 has been out for a YEAR, and you still can’t get a decent iTunes/player for it?  This is the kind of  HUBRIS that killed RIM/Blackberry.  If you have a player for PCs then fucking SUPPORT IT.   And your technology is NOT the great wonder it once was.  My iphone battery barely lasts a day in most cases, and the touch interface is intermittent/flakey at best.    Maybe it’s time to move to Android. (When my current plan expires).

And there’s my dilemma.  I want to be a good, honest citizen and be able to pay/compensate all the people who put all that work into making movies, but I can see why so many people don’t.   The movie industry is driving people to theft because they don’t give so many of them ANY workable solutions that allow one to rent/buy and play a downloadable copy.

 

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