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Samsung helps UltraViolet boost hardware profile

Samsung is enabling owners of its Smart Blu-ray players to transfer their existing movie collections to the cloud just by loading a film disc into the player. Will consumers agree to pay a "nominal fee" for the privilege?

LAS VEGAS--Samsung said today it is making its Smart Blu-ray players compatible with the UltraViolet, the cloud-movie platform backed by the Hollywood studios.

The main UV feature will enable owners of the Blu-ray players to move their existing DVD and Blu-ray libraries into their own UV digital lockers.

The feature, which will be made available later this year, is being referred to as "disc to digital," which enables owners to slip in an eligible movie disc and the software will then attempt to scan and recognize the film. When it does, the technology will then offer owners a chance to buy a copy for a "nominal fee" that will be stored in their UV lockers.

These UV-stored movies can be accessed from any device that can connect to the Web. Disc to digital is kind of a nifty trick (with an assist from Rovi), even if some consumers are likely to be unwilling to repurchase their films.

UV's backers, a group of more than 70 companies connected to the film industry called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), are banking on consumers being attracted to the idea of having ubiquitous access to their movies. Unlike discs, the UV films can't be broken or lost.

"Disc to Digital can work with any authorized retail service and will initially be available using a new Flixster application on Samsung's Smart Hub," DECE and Samsung said in a joint statement.

Once an owner of the Samsung Blu-ray player loads UV movies to the locker, he or she can access the movies through the Flixster Smart Hub application on Samsung's Smart Hub, in addition to a broad range of mobile and portable devices, including iPhones and Android devices.