$20 Ultraviolet dongle on the way -- but will anyone buy it?

A new HDMI dongle aims to make it easier for Ultraviolet users to access their digital lockers -- but is it really bringing anything new to the table?

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Move aside Google Chromecast, a new Ultraviolet-specific HDMI dongle is coming your way. Suan Pineda/CNET

Ultraviolet has struggled to match the popularity of streaming providers such as Netflix and iTunes. The service, which is backed by all the major movie studios except Disney, allows you to own a cloud-based digital version of movies and TV shows -- often thrown in as a freebie with DVD and Blu-ray purchases.

Now, a new HDMI dongle aims to make it easier for you to access your Ultraviolet digital "locker". The proposed dongle, from startup Toggle Inc, would act as a physical key to your cloud locker and stream supported content to any TV with an HDMI input. The idea has the backing of movie studio Warner, and Toggle expects the dongle will compete at a similar price to the Google Chromecast -- about $20.

The Toggle device would include a remote, come with apps preloaded, and be "easy to navigate", Toggle promises. At least one retailer is already lined up to sell the device in October, Home Media reports.

Is hardware the real problem?

While anything at such a low price has marketplace potential, it's important to note that Ultraviolet is already available on some of the best-selling mobile and home video hardware, thanks to Ultraviolet-compatible apps like Vudu and Flixster.

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What the proposed device would look like. Toggle Inc.

Using those apps, you can access your Ultraviolet collections on your iPhone, iPad, Android device, and -- on your TV -- your Roku box, which start at just $50. The $35 Chromecast doesn't have an Ultraviolet-compatible native app yet, but you can "cast" Web-based Vudu or Flixster streams from your laptop to the Google dongle.

The point is: anyone with an Ultraviolet collection can watch it on their TV or mobile device already.

Instead of a new dongle, the Ultraviolet group should instead focus on making the content easier to setup and access to begin with. Unlike, say, iTunes or Amazon, Ultraviolet usually requires you to establish at least three accounts -- one with Ultraviolet, one with the studio that released the movie, and one with the Ultraviolet-compatible app.

In fact, Ultraviolet was so confusing for new users that Warner was forced to offer rebates to viewers of the "Veronica Mars" movie earlier this year, after many simply gave up on the UV version and opted for easier iTunes and Amazon downloads instead.

That issue, and the aforementioned dearth of Disney content -- which includes Marvel, Pixar, and "Star Wars" movies -- seems like it should loom larger on Ultraviolet's to-do list.

(Via Home Media Magazine.)

 

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