Well, it sounded like a good idea anyway. Buy a video, Blu-ray or DVD and get the rights to stream the movie to any digital device you own.
It's an initiative called UltraViolet. But that turns out to be a misnomer. Ultra-bad would be more accurate. Ultra-difficult to set up. Ultra-hard to use. In fact, it takes an Ultra-genius just to figure out how to get this thing to work. In some cases, it doesn't work at all.
First off, let's talk a system that does work: Apple's iTunes. If you buy a movie that has a digital copy feature that works in iTunes, the process is simple. Insert the disc. Enter the secret code that came with the disc. The movie copies into iTunes. All Apple devices can access it. Simple. Easy. Straightforward.
Not so with UltraViolet, which launched several months ago with great fanfare.
If you buy a DVD or Blu-ray with UltraViolet support, be prepared for a long slog through an arcane maze that requires the creation of multiple accounts on multiple websites with multiple passwords.
The first step is to create an account on the UltraViolet website, uvvu.com. Be prepared to hand over a bunch of personal information and set up three secret questions and answers to ensure you really are who you say you are. We don't want just anybody accessing this movie!
OK. Now what? Good question. It turns out this website is not a central clearing house for all your super-secure UltraViolet movies but simply the place where you must create an account.
If you want access to a streaming version of your movie, you have to go to a different website run by the Hollywood studio that produced it - in my case, Paramount. Now you must figure out how to navigate the website to a place where you create yet another account with another password and another set of super-secret questions that can link to the super-secure UltraViolet website. Then and only then can you enter the secret code that gives you the ability to stream the movie to all your digital devices.
Well, OK, maybe not all of them.
Using a regular PC or laptop, I found I could stream the movie OK, assuming a fast enough Internet connection. Actually downloading the movie to your device is another matter. Figure an hour or more to a PC. It took several days on my iPod Touch. That's right. I said days.
I could never get the streaming to work on my Motorola Xoom Android tablet. So much for streaming anywhere on any device. There is no Paramount app for Android as there is for Apple. If you try to go to the Paramount website and watch the movie that way, you hit another roadblock. You can see the movie in your account once you sign on, but you can't watch it. The media player does not function in the Android Internet browser for some reason. (Keep in mind, I am running the latest and greatest version of the Ice Cream sandwich OS).
OK. Maybe there is a solution on the UltraViolet website. Hey, look; my movie is listed! But when I hit the play button, it simply redirects me to the Paramount home page. Is this crazy or what?
After some research (not on the UltraViolet website, which is nearly worthless when it comes to providing any useful information), I discover that the website Flixster has a deal to stream UltraViolet movies to any device. So I download the Flixster app to my tablet, create yet another account with new name and password, and eagerly await the chance to stream my movie.
Too bad that didn't work either. After several futile attempts to get Flixster to link with UltraViolet, I gave up. I could never get it to list the movie I just purchased. Are you sold on UltraViolet yet?
At least I still have the Blu-ray disc. Pity the poor fools who shell out extra money to get a streaming version of a movie they already own. Walmart is now pushing a deal where you take your DVD or Blu-ray to the store and they will sell you streaming access via UltraViolet. The cost is $2 to $5 per movie depending whether you want standard def or HD.
A word to the wise: Don't waste your time or money.
UltraViolet is perhaps the most poorly thought out, poorly executed, difficult to use streaming video initiative ever conceived. Given my experience, it won't be around for very long, which means anyone who paid extra for this "service" will get screwed over one last time when UltraViolet shuts down.
Tony Briggs has been a technology columnist in the Daytona Beach area for more than 20 years.