By Erik J. Martin
THESE DAYS, THERE’S a way to collect and
watch your favorite films and TV episodes,
one that allows you to grow your library of
entertainment and enjoy it wherever you go:
digital copies. Digital copies are stored as
streaming video files that can be instantly
accessed on smartphones, tablets, computers,
streaming players and smart TVs.
From physical to digital
Atlanta-based technology industry analyst and Costco member Jeff Kagan says digital copies are set to dominate.
“Everything is moving to digital files.
An online library
[This] change is transforming the movie and
Digital copies are available from major
studios such as Disney, Universal, Sony Pic-
tures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and
Paramount, and are accessible through a vari-
ety of services (see sidebar). They can be
owned or rented. And they can be either
downloaded directly to the device you want to
watch it on or stored securely in the cloud in
a digital “locker,” such as UltraViolet, that
requires a password-protected account and an
Internet connection to retrieve.
Consider the perks. Streamable digital
copies are guaranteed to be compatible with
any future device you watch them on. Digital
lockers offer unlimited online space to store
your titles. And many of these services allow
you to share your library with friends and
stream simultaneously to multiple devices.
“Consumers have different consumption
habits. Having a digital copy of [your] movie
allows flexibility and portability across multiple devices,” says Costco member Dan
Rayburn, streaming expert/analyst with Frost
& Sullivan in New York City.
Jon Hernandez of Long Beach, California,
has amassed an UltraViolet library of approximately 1,250 films.
“I enjoy having my collection at my fingertips and being able to view any of my films
using a cellphone, iPad or Chromecast [a
thumb-size media streaming device that plugs
into a computer or Smart TV],” says Hernandez.
“If I want to travel, I can stream my collection
to my phone or Chromecast or fill my phone’s
memory card with a bunch of movie files.”
Intangible media, imperfect solutions
Digital copies do come with caveats. They
can be more expensive to purchase than physical media. Not all movies and TV series are
available digitally. You need Internet access to
tap into your online library. Plus, there’s no
guarantee that the service you access them
from will remain in business.
“Most of this media is locked using digital
rights management, which means you can
only enjoy it on specific devices, like your
phone or tablet, using specific apps,” says Dan
Tynan, San Francisco–based editor in chief of
Yahoo Tech and a Costco member. “Also, you
have to remember where your digital copy is
stored and keep your digital locker account
active so you can still access the content you
Despite these limitations, experts and
consumers alike agree that digital copies
provide an opportune complement to discs
that allows you to easily tap into a cyber
vault of TV episodes and films worth col-
Erik J. Martin is a Chicagoland-based freelance writer.
Building on your DVD entertainment
library with digital copies
CONSUMERS CAN currently access
digital copies, in either standard or
high definition, in four ways.
• Redeem a free downloadable
or streamable copy, bundled with
many new Blu-ray or DVD discs,
that you own forever. The file can
be (a) a Digital Copy, compatible
with iTunes and Windows Media
and devices that use them; or (b) an
UltraViolet copy, compatible with
third-party apps like Flixster, Vudu
and M-Go and supporting devices.
Redeem by inserting a prepackaged Digital Copy disc into your
computer or by entering online a
code found on a paper insert inside
the disc case.
• Convert a title you own into a
streamable copy, which you own forever, via a disc-to-digital service like
Vudu, Flixster or CinemaNow, which
scans your disc using your computer
or one at a participating store and
allows for upgrading from standard
to high definition.
• Purchase a downloadable or
streamable copy, which you own forever, directly from an online retailer.
• Rent a downloadable or streamable copy, which expires after a limited time, from one of the aforementioned services.—EJM
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find a variety of DVD
and Blu-ray entertainment discs bundled
with digital copies in Costco warehouses.
Where to find
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arts & entertainment