Product Review: Walmart Disc-to-Digital Service

Product Review: Walmart Disc-to-Digital Service

Periodically I will review a product or service that either improves efficiency, saves time, or helps us get or stay organized. I’ll be offering my opinion whether it’s worth it.

So today, I am reviewing the new Wal-mart Disc-to-Digital Service.

This service allows you to convert your physical DVDs and Blue-ray discs to digital format. Once converted you can view them anywhere on a Vudu-enabled device.

If you have a lot of movies, the addition of Wal-mart’s Disc-to-Digital Service gets you one step closer to having a duplicate/back-up copy of your movie collection.

How Does it Work?

First, you’ll need to sign up for accounts with Vudu and UltraViolet. Setup was easy and both can be completed on the Vudu website. Once your accounts are setup, confirm that your Vudu and UltraViolet accounts have been linked. Remember your username (your email address) – you’ll need it later in the process.

Here’s a brief explanation of who the three players in the process are:

  • UltraViolet created the Disc-to-Digital service. It is new industry standard that allows you to store your movies securely in the cloud and keep track of your movie purchases.
  • Wal-mart is where you take your movies to be “converted.”
  • Vudu is the platform where you view your movies in the cloud. Vudu is similar to Netflix, iTunes, or Amazon Movies on Demand in that you don’t need a DVD or Blu-ray player to watch your movies.

After your accounts are setup, take your movies to Wal-mart for “conversion.” Wal-mart will need your username in order to transfer your movies to your account. Once the conversion process is completed, Wal-mart will stamp your movies to prevent multiple conversions of the same copy of a movie.

Conversion is used here loosely as Wal-mart is not actually converting your movies. As long as your movie is available for conversion (see “My Review/Experience”), the movie is just added to your account.

My Review/Experience

Vudu highly recommends that you search and confirm that your movie is available for conversion. Not all studios participate in the UltraViolet program.

I test-drove the service using seven of my favorite movies. Of the seven movies I selected, two were not available. Searching and confirming availability was easy, so no complaints here. Vudu recommends printing out your movie list and take it with you to Wal-mart, but I felt that was a waste of paper (and I don’t have a printer).

But my experience at the Wal-mart photocenter was disappointing. Either they are still getting used to the service or they seriously need to hire me to get them organized because the associate working in the photocenter spent about 30 minutes searching for the login details for the store’s Vudu/Ultraviolet account so that she could convert my movies.

Since I was in a great mood and not in a rush, I waited patiently. Plus she was very apologetic and I knew it wasn’t her fault.

Final Verdict

The service definitely has its shortcomings being that it’s new.  The library of available movies is limited so expect for some of your movies can’t be converted. As more movie studios sign on to participate in the program, the library will improve.

Some critics complain that it is ridiculous to pay more money for a digital copy of a movie that you already own. And to those critics I say this: what is more important – your time or your money? Yes, you could download free software that will convert your movies into a digital format. I’ve done that, and it takes a long time to convert one movie (it took 35 minutes for the software to convert “The Devil Wears Prada.”).

  • $2 per DVD to convert to Standard Definition (SD)
  • $2 per Blu-ray™ disc to convert to High Definition with Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound (‘HDX’)
  • $5 per DVD to convert and upgrade to HDX

I consider the fee more than reasonable.  Pick a monthly budget that is reasonable for you and convert as many movies as your budget allows.

I also think that Wal-mart could do a much better job advertising the service. The store I went into had a sad-looking floor display that was beaten up and poorly located. I also couldn’t find any information on the service on Walmart.com (I wasn’t sure if this service was only available at participating stores and didn’t want to waste my time).

Despite these issues, I highly recommend the service and will gradually convert my movies over the next year or so.

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