Delivering 4K Movies to the Broadband Challenged

Download UHD content rather than streaming it, for enhanced quality

Vidity isn’t a particularly catchy name. It looks odd and doesn’t trip off the tongue at all comfortably. It’s likely, too, that you’ve never even heard of it before stumbling across this article. But it’s definitely a name that’s worth acquainting yourself with, for it has the potential to become a major player in the exciting but also technically difficult era of 4K television we’re just starting to enter.

Vidity is essentially the consumer brand of The Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA). This consortium includes as founder members 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Warner Bros Home Entertainment, Western Digital and SanDisk - a grouping which immediately gives you a significant clue to what Vidity is all about. 

Vidity’s brief, in its own words, is to offer “the ultimate in entertainment, bringing unprecedented quality and the convenience of digital together, delivered across a range of options spanning 4K Ultra HD home theater to compact smartphones with no Internet connectivity needed for playback.” In other words, Vidity is a system that lets you download the top quality of tomorrow’s movie content for enjoying offline - a far preferable system for many AV fans to the streaming approach currently being used for the majority of 4K consumption.

Benefits of downloading

After all, as well as meaning that people who’ve downloaded a film can watch it without fear of interruption in areas where internet access is flaky, the Vidity approach means that the quality you get to see is not dependent on the speed of your broadband connection.

With Vidity you could potentially have a broadband speed of just 1Mbps and still be able to enjoy a stunning quality 4K UHD film on your TV or smart device - so long as you don’t mind the necessary Vidity file taking potentially many hours to download to your Vidity-enabled storage device.

Another nice feature of the Vidity platform is the way one purchase can give you multiple levels of resolution, from 4K UHD to standard definition, so your viewing of your files is always automatically optimised for the display you’re watching them on.

Lets look in a little more detail at the actual process of using Vidity. 

Your first step is to buy a Vidity digital movie file from an authorised retailer (we’ll look at these retailers later). This then lets you download the title to a Vidity-enabled storage device, or perhaps ‘unlock’ a title already pre-stored on a hard drive package you’ve bought, such as the recently launched Western Digital My Passport Cinema system. 

Once you’ve downloaded/unlocked your purchased title on a hard drive or directly onto your playback device, you can move your movie collection freely between your other devices, be they TVs, smartphones, laptops or tablet computers.

What you need

The biggest hurdle to Vidity’s widespread adoption is potentially the amount of kit you’ll need in order to enjoy a full Vidity experience. You’ll need a Vidity-compliant device, smart TV, mobile phone, tablet or PC. You’ll need Vidity-compliant storage, either built in to your viewing device or in an external hard drive. Your content will need to Vidity compliant, and come from an authorised Vidity retailer. And finally your smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart TVs will need to have Vidity-compatible hardware/processors.

If you’re wondering exactly what we mean by ‘Vidity Compliant’, by the way, the phrase is used to describe a consumer electronic playback device, storage device or content file that’s been encrypted with Vidity’s proprietary content protection system.

At the time of writing, Vidity titles are available to download through the M-Go app on Samsung Ultra HD TVs (a full list of compatible Samsung models can be found here). But the likes of Vudu, Kaleidescape, LG, Universal, Comcast, Qualcomm, Toshiba, Wuaki.tv and Sprint are also partners to the core Vidity quartet of Fox, Warner Bros, Western Digital and SanDisk, and so will likely roll out Vidity-compatible products/services of their own at some point. 

Passport to easy 4K

The previously mentioned $90 My Passport Cinema drive provides a good example of how the Vidity approach can deliver a 4K UHD experience with no need to download or stream huge files.

It’s a 1TB hard drive containing a number of preloaded 4K Ultra HD movies that can be ‘unlocked’ by paying for each title via the M-Go website. Once the unlock is complete you’ll be able to play the selected title immediately from the hard drive. 

You can additionally download 4K UHD films to this drive from M-Go and, eventually, other Vidity retailers. A promotion available at the time of writing entitles buyers of high-end Samsung 2015 'SUHD' TVs - JS9000 and above, including the UN65JS9500 reviewed here - to unlock two films for free. 

A couple of the film titles available on the My Passport Cinema drive at launch - Exodus: Gods And Kings and The Mazerunner - are even available in the new high dynamic range format as well as 4K UHD on compatible TVs. All of which will come as music to the ears of picture quality enthusiasts getting fed up with the long-running shortage of easily accessible 4K content.

There’s a possibility that Vidity will suffer at the hands of Ultra HD Blu-ray when that launches. Until that time, however, Vidity is a seriously handy 4K UHD option for the millions of people out there not blessed with 4K streaming-friendly broadband speeds. And actually, even when Ultra HD Blu-ray does appear, the facts that Vidity saves you from accumulating more piles of discs and lets you easily transfer your files between devices should ensure that it continues to build a healthy user base - so long as it is effective enough at making people aware of its existence.

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