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Ultra HD movies get portability, sort of

Ultra HD

Want portability for Ultra HD movies and can’t wait for UHD Blu-ray disks to arrive? You’re in luck, sort of. Western Digital has a portable, secure drive for Ultra HD movies, if you can find a TV that supports it.

Western Digital announced the My Passport Cinema Ultra-HD 1TB movie storage drive. This device uses VIDITY technology to ensure the content cannot be copied from one drive to another (though you can transfer and to ensure the movie is delivered with high quality to a VIDITY-compliant television. The drive can store 4K resolution movies with high dynamic range, as well as regular HD movies.

The My Passport drive does not need to be connected to the Internet for an owner to watch a movie. The usage rights are stored right on the drive. It is very simple to use. Just connect the drive to a USB 3.0 port on a compatible TV (this connection also provides power to run the drive.)

How do the movies get on the drive? It will come preloaded with ultra HD movies ready for purchase including The Maze Runner, X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Other Women. For a promotional period, purchasers of Samsung JS model TVs will receive two free Ultra HD movies on the drive. Movies can also be purchased and downloaded to the drive from the M-GO online movie store.

Unfortunately, there are not many TVs that currently support VIDITY. The VIDITY website lists 17 Samsung Ultra HD TVs as the only models compatible: the 2014 HU series, and 2015 JU and JS series. The website promises many more TVs supporting VIDITY will be available soon. However, for now at least, portability is more of a theoretical rather than useful benefit of the My Passport Cinema Ultra-HD drive.

For those used to the portability of a physical disk, things moved one step closer this week. The Blu-ray Disc Association says that it will start licensing the UHD Blu-ray format starting on August 24th. Not only does the standard support full 4K resolution (3840×2160), but also high dynamic range, high frame rates (to 60 frames per second) and an expanded color range.

At CES this year, Panasonic announced it will ship a UHD Blu-ray player in time for the 2015 holiday season. Now the company can actually license the format, it should be on track to achieve that goal. No word, however, on how many movie studios are preparing to release UHD movies on Blu-ray disks.

The outlook still looks good for the sale of Ultra HD TVs. Futuresource Consulting says that, though TV shipments are expected to fall by 2% this year, 4K TV shipments are expected to grow by 147%. Futuresource’s forecast is roughly in line with GfKs January forecast, which said the 9.3M UHD TV set sales in 2014 is expected to grow to 23.3M this year.

Why it matters

Until this week, there was no way for a consumer to store a UHD movie at home in a portable format.

Western Digital’s My Passport Cinema Ultra-HD drive solves that, though there are very few compatible UHD TVs to connect the drive to.

The UHD Blu-ray format is available to be licensed. Now disk and player makers can begin to deliver product in the format.

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