Studios been trying to push Ultra HD as the next big breakthrough in home entertainment for the last few years — promising a stunningly realistic visual experience — but the path to mainstream adoption is still riddled with obstacles.
The latest partnership struck by 20th Century Fox illustrates the nature of the problem. The studio is preloading just eight titles on WD’s new $90 My Passport Cinema 4K Ultra HD movie drive, and initially those will be playable only on Samsung’s most recent Ultra HD television models.
Customers who buy the WD movie drive will get free access to preloaded copies of “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (pictured above), Ridley Scott’s retelling of the Moses story, and dystopian sci-fi pic “The Maze Runner.” However, the movies will play in 4K UHD only on Samsung’s 2015 Ultra HD TVs; the consumer-electronics company’s 2014 UHD models will only play the two movies in HD.
Overall, UHD remains stuck in low gear, given limited content availability, higher-priced UHD sets and the hoops consumers still have to jump through to watch 4K high-definition content at home. Other video distributors that have planted flags in the Ultra HD turf include Netflix, Amazon, Sony, Comcast and DirecTV, each with a smattering of selections in the format.
20th Century Fox remains committed to trying to foster the UHD ecosystem, given the opportunity to sell digital copies at a premium price. “The quality of the content as the demand for 4K Ultra HD content continues to increase and evolve, but also the ease of content acquisition and playback on next-generation TVs and other devices,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of global research and technology strategy for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The six other Fox UHD movies preloaded on the device that are available to buy are “X-Men: Days of the Future Past,” “The Wolverine,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Let’s Be Cops” and “The Other Woman.”
WD’s My Passport Cinema drive promises to add more content, as well as support for more UHD TVs. The device is built to the spec developed by Vidity, a consortium backed by 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sandisk and WD. Users can download additional titles via M-Go or other Vidity-compliant retailers.
The WD My Passport Cinema UHD movie storage drive, which has a 1-terabyte capacity, is listed at $89.99 and includes a one-year limited warranty. Additionally, the device will be included free with purchases of Samsung JS9000, JS9100 or JS9500 SUHD TV models from Aug. 16, 2015, to June 30, 2016.