Movielink Test Run

-- www.movielink.com --

The Movielink announcement last month about releasing VOD movies for purchase left me with a lot of unanswered questions. First, who the hell would pay for this? Why would you spend $20 for KING KONG on your computer when you could go to Wal-Mart and buy the DVD for $14 and watch it on your computer, TV, portable DVD player, etc. What’s the appeal of owning an electronic-only version of a film when you can own an actual transferable copy of a film. All the major studios, minus Disney for the time being, have bought into the service so it must be something someone thinks is a good idea. I couldn’t wrap my head around so I figured what better way to figure out the benefits than to give it a go myself. So on Tuesday night, I set out to legally download my first movie from the web courtesy of Movielink. And as luck would have it, I kept a running diary.

7:25 – Let’s get this party started! I fire up the laptop and head on over to movielink.com. I’m quickly enticed by their current “deal” offering up a download of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN for $19.99 (on sale from $29.99). I’m so there. Not that I have much choice. This isn’t like browsing at Netflix. I entered in a number of titles in their search and came up empty three straight times.

7:26 – I don’t get very far without realizing I need to need to register with Movielink. I supply the usual – name, address, credit card – before I’m granted an account and allowed to proceed. Before I do, I notice that Movielink is only available to users in the United States. So JoBlo and Arrow up in Montreal are assed out (as is the rest of the free world).

7:28 – After adding BROKEBACK to my shopping cart and completing my purchase, I’m told I need to download an application titled “Movielink Manager,” that will essentially manage the download of the file from their server to mine. Easy enough, right?

7:34 – My first contact with Movielink tech support. My download was scheduled to begin immediately after the Movielink Manager installed but never did. I tried again and still no luck. My pop-up blocker is disabled, my firewall is set properly but still nothing. I reach out to a live chat with a Movielink employee.

7:38 – After a short wait, I’m greeted by Ed who’s accompanied by his Captain Jack Sparrow avatar. I explain my problem though not before Ed asks what movie title I’m trying to download and I have to sheepishly admit BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

7:41 – Captain Ed reviews my account and diagnoses the problem and tells me how to fix it. Keeping in theme with BROKEBACK, I don’t ask what the problem was and he doesn’t tell.

7:43 – After following Ed’s orders (basically taking a backdoor, excuse the pun, into my account and manually starting the download), BROKEBACK finally starts downloading on my machine.

7:43 – Wait a sec. I’m told my Windows Media software isn't quite up to date and that if I don’t update I won’t be able to play Movielink files. Fantastic. Download is now on hold while I’m told I’ll need another 5-10 minutes for software updates to install.

7:51 – Windows Media Player is now updated and I’m prompted to restart my computer. As you might expect, Movielink recommends saving any other documents before restarting. However the dialog box is not letting me click anywhere outside its parameters leaving my only option to restart my computer and lose all my data (including my running diary).

7:53 – Thank God for old fashioned pen and paper. I rewrite my notes as my laptop restarts.

7:56 – I’m up and running again and now I get a new dialog box. I click through some “next” and “OK” buttons where I’m AGAIN prompted to restart my computer. I’m officially getting pissed.

8:01 – My computer restarts, again, the Movielink Manager opens and lo and behold, BROKEBACK actually begins downloading. The fancy little meter informs me I have1 hour and 45 minutes to go before I’m in gay cowboy heaven.

8:04 - Only 2 hours and 50 minutes to go!

8:07 - Only 3 hours and 29 minutes to go!

8:25 - Only 4 hours and 13 minutes to go!

9:25 – Only… never mind. You can see where this is going. I can see where this is going and it’s going nowhere fast. I’m trying to kill time suffering through “Scrubs” with my wife but I’m still nowhere near a BROKEBACK night. I decide to call it quits, leave the laptop on and head to bed.

7:25am – After a refreshing night of sleep, I check the laptop and find that BROKEBACK finally finished downloading earlier this morning at 12:41am. That’s 4 hours and 40 minutes after downloading began on a Verizon DSL connection. I’m hoping those with a cable modem or T1 line have better luck. The WMV file takes up about 1.5GB but is clearer than I thought. Pretty much on par with DVD quality with maybe a bit more grain. Better than I would’ve expected.

Though I’m reminded frequently by Movielink and their Terms of Agreement that the WMV file can only be viewed on this or three other computers, I give my best shot to try and convert the file to iPod’s .m4v format or to burn onto a viewable DVD. (The file can be burned to a DVD as data but not for playback in a DVD player.) Neither worked. I didn’t spend all day and night on it but it seems that the few programs I have on my machine that might be able to find away around this, weren’t able to do so. Not to say that someone won’t eventually find one, but so far I didn’t have any luck. Which is good cause if I had luck, I’d probably have the MPAA and FBI knocking on my door.

The Movielink download went pretty much as I had expected. Glitches in technology, took a while to download and rather inconvenient. I’ve had the file since Wednesday morning and still no plans to watch it. After all, it’s hard to convince my wife to gather round the ole laptop for a movie. Perhaps one day when I’m traveling, it’ll come in handy but otherwise, I don’t see myself sitting in my chair and staring at my laptop. Of course I could hook up my laptop to my TV and, through Windows Media Edition, watch the movie on my TV, but at that point, I could’ve bought the DVD, watched it and spent at least two days questioning my manhood.

If you’re someone who’s constantly on the go but somehow finds himself with enough time to connect to the internet via a high-speed modem for at least 3 hours and with a laptop small enough to be portable and an allergy to DVDs…hey, this is probably right up your alley. Me, I’ll stick to buying my movies on DVD and leave my computer to what it was meant for: porn, porn, porn.

Source: JoBlo.com



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