Blu-Ray

Where is it?

Remember back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when the media and content providers claimed we would be accessing content from the four corners of the earth?

Well, it’s nearly 2020 and we’re still having serious distribution issues when it comes to music and film from Europe.

This may not be a problem for most english speakers in this country, who primarily look at Hollywood blockbusters and the odd independent film from the states, Canada, Britain, Ireland or Australia. But when you wander on the Internet Movie Database and encounter films that feature actors and actresses you know from some of those films, you may notice that these have not been made available to North Americans, regardless of the major award nominations or wins these have accumulated.

In my case I have been encountering dead ends trying to rent or purchase recent music and films from Denmark and Finland, that i’ve been searching for since the release of the Academy Award winning film “In A Better World” in 2011.

This excellent Danish drama is available on blu-ray in North America and can be downloaded via Google Play and iTunes in Canada and the United States. But Canadians will not be able to find “Someone You Love“, another Scandinavian drama featuring Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt, or Danish teen horror flick “Danny’s Doomsday“, which features William Jøhnk Nielsen (one of the young, lead actors in “In A Better World“).

Those films were made available on DVD and blu-ray for a short time after their original 2014 theatrical release and are still available for rental and purchase in Europe via several services, including iTunes and Google Play. But only “Danny’s Doomsday” has made it “across the pond”, exclusively to Prime Video in the states.

I’ve contacted iTunes, Google Play and Amazon/Prime Video repetitively in regards to several other European films and the response is pretty much “we’re slowly adding to our catalog so it might appear online soon”, the response i’ve received for over a decade in response to my requests for several classic french films i’ve wanted.

The delays in regards to the french films i’ve asked for are understandable because they’re rather obscure outside of Quebec and the other parts of North America where french isn’t common. But I won’t lie and say I don’t find it rather irritating to see soundtracks from the more recent films being featured on those services instead.

Seriously, I had purchased some of the music off the “Urban Family” soundtrack from iTunes four years before randomly encountering the Finnish musical on some obscure channel on my Roku a few weeks back. And to make matters worse I have also yet to be able to purchase “Uusi Ullottovuus“, a catchy tune by the Brotherus Brothers, the young sibling trio that features Johannes Brotherus, one of the lead actors of that film!

There are also no guaranties that a foreign film will remain available for a long time in North America, which is made apparent by the disappearance of the multiple award winning films like “Good Bye Lenin!” and “I’m Not Scared” from our store shelves and content providers. And all we can do is add titles to our wish lists on the latter, occasionally checking with JustWatch to see if a film pops up somewhere online.

Yes, you could try to find these films on DVD or Blu-ray on eBay or Amazon and use an all region DVD or blu-ray player if these discs aren’t coded for our region but this can get quite costly because of the shipping and handling costs per disc, although the later is more bearable if the DVD or Blu-ray you’re purchasing is compatible with your current player ; Consult your DVD or blu-ray player’s manual for details.

Personally, i’d prefer paying the foreign film producers directly to rent or download their films, when no distributor is available. But there are usually contract issues lingering in the background that keeps that from happening, unfortunately.

I have managed to secure some foreign films on DVD and blu-ray, that were produced in North America. But i’m guessing these are going to get rarer as more and more people just stream or download films legally.

I guess we all need to be patient about these things. But sometimes…

Argh!


The Case For Blu-Ray

Thought i’d bump a blog article I like about how blu-ray is significantly better than streaming. Click here to read it.

The Boxing Day Sales Are Online

The Boxing Day Sales have begun and here are the retailers I usually shop at :

Amazon.ca has Boxing Week specials on various item, notably film boxed sets, drones and various other products.

Best Buy Canada is offering quite a few items on sale, including a large amount of televisions. Not many blu-rays or DVDs but there are a few turntables.

The Brick is offering discounts of Home Electronics including televisions and home audio, including a Sony USB turntable and Sylvania Nostalgia 5-in-1 Music Centre. The latter is discounted, considerably.

Chapters / Indigo is offering up to 50% off various books and merchandise, with an additional 20% if you use Masterpass. This offer ends on the 31st.

HMV Canada is pretty much Canada’s largest remaining entertainment store chain. They offer good deals on blu-rays, boxed sets, vinyl and film/music memorabilia. But always do some comparison shopping. And if you find something today, don’t forget to use coupon code HMV2016 to save $5 on shipping and handling on orders over $25.

Henry’s is a chain that primary sells cameras and accessories. But they also sell drones and video camera accessories. Youtubers may find a deal or two here.

Ikea Canada doesn’t sell televisions or home theatre or audio items. But they do sell shelves and accessories. They are currently offering free shipping on orders over $50 that are placed today, December 25th, 2016. I particularly like the Gladsax picture frame, which is used to frame LP covers.

Like many of Canadian’s major retailers, Leons is mostly offering discounts on televisions. But there are deals to be had in Home Theatre & Entertainment. Shop around for the best deals.

Long & McQuade is a music instrument and accessory store. And they are will be having specials on quite a few item from December 16th to December 31st, 2016. If you’re a musician, you might want to check them out.

Microsoft Canadaicon‘s Boxing Week sale features PCs, the Surface, the X-Box and various accessories.

Newegg.ca had quite a few Boxing day discounts on computers, computer accessories, gaming systems and home entertainment systems. And like Chapters/Indigo they are offering a discount on purchases made with Masterpass, this time $25 off purchases over $200 using coupon code MPBOX25 until Midnight PST December 28th, 2016. Vinyl fans should note that they offer a considerable amount of turntables and accessories.

Sears Canada is offering quite a few items on sale, including headphones ((12/25 – 12/28) Beats By dre headphones – white $129.97) and other daily discounts on specific products. Look for specials in the Portable & Home Audio and Home Theatre, especially on the 26th.

The Source has televisions, computers, tablets, cameras and accessories on sale. But i’ve seen better prices for some of their sale items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And their record players are pretty much the same price as Newegg Canada.

Various Blu-Ray Offers

You’ve got until May 1st, 2014 to bring your old DVDs over to your local Best Buy and Future Shop to recycle them in exchange for a discount on Blu-Rays.

Basically you either get $5 off select Blu-rays or $10 off select 3D Blu-Ray combo packs, one discount per individual DVD trade in.

Of both offers I’d say the Future Shop offer is superior because not only do they appear to have more Blu-ray titles to choose from but they also give people coupons that entitles Cinemanow members to rent films online at half price.

I managed to get “Anchorman II” on Blu-ray by trading in an old DVD at my local Future Shop and got Cinemanow coupons on my receipt for every Blu-ray I purchased. This coupon will expire next month, on May 22nd, 2014.

You’ll also notice that like “Anchorman II”, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is also on sale for $14.99. And although that Blu-ray isn’t an eligible title for the trade in offer, some of the $14.99 “Amazing Spider-man” Blu-Rays include a coupon for $10 off the purchase of a theater ticket for the new Spider-man film.

That coupon is found on specially marked packages and includes a code that you need to redeem on the Cineplex website.

I found the specially marked Blu-ray on a display with several other films that include the coupon. And that purchase also resulted in a Cinemanow coupon being added to my receipt.

These offer may not be available nationwide so check your local flyers for details.

DVD To Digital

I’ve just noticed a neat feature at Cinemanow Canada. A Disc to Digital conversion service that allows people to add their DVDs to their Ultraviolet accounts, either in standard definition or high definition.

The Disc to Digital menu option can now be found on their new player software, which is compatible with the latest Windows and Mac operating systems.

To add a title to their online collection all a person needs to do is to insert a DVD into their computer’s CD-Rom or Blu-ray player and click on a button to receive an option to purchase a standard definition version for $2 or high definition version for $5.

Individuals who have unlimited internet and stream HD movies now have a relatively cheap way to up-convert their DVDs. But it should be noted that this program is relatively new so the titles are limited and I’ve encountered a glitch that I’ve just emailed Cinemanow Canada about.

I don’t know if this happens to any other DVD or if it’s a glitch limited to my Windows 7 machine. But my Spider-Man DVD registers as being “burned” when it is actually an authentic DVD. I purchased it new from a major retailer.

Blu-ray discs are not yet supported. But I’m assuming they’re working on this. And many titles already have free Ultraviolet codes on them, though I recommend you redeem them as soon as possible because some of them have expiry dates.

The New Game Consoles – First Impressions by a Non Gamer

Yesterday I was browsing my usual sources when I noticed that several game consoles have been made available for pre-order. And although I am not a “gamer”, I thought I’d look into these consoles as entertainment devices and give you my first impressions.

Reading through the technical specifications one can gather that both the
PlayStation 4
and Xbox One will be able to play and stream music and film.

Both have Blu-ray players so they can play DVDs and Blu-ray discs and both have access to music and film services online via an Ethernet port or 802.11 b/g/n wireless network connectivity.

Cloud services are a big selling point with both consoles and both of these devices are powered by 8-core x86 processors with 8GB of RAM so they should be able to handle everything. But I haven’t been able to confirm an ability to use Skype on the PlayStation 4.

I don’t know if they are expecting to implement it in response to the requests by PS3 users. But they did install it on the Vita so a Skype app may make it’s way onto the PlayStation 4 like it has on Xbox One.

I haven’t explored the full functionality of Skype on my home entertainment system. But I would want to have access to it so I’m going to look into this a little more.

In regards to Youtube and Facebook, both devices appear to have apps to handle those social networks so I would probably use either to browse both sites. And both devices will probably have CinemaNow and Netflix apps, in case I want to use those online film rental services.

The ability to stream music and video from home computers and network drives is also made available on both devices.

A DLNA compatible network drive should be accessible on the PlayStation 4 whilst media on Windows PCs should be accessible on the Xbox One. But I’ve also heard that the PlayStation 4 allows the use of used games, allowing me to dabble in gaming as well.

The PlayStation 4’s lower sticker price at $399 makes it more attractive than the $499 Xbox One but the latter has HDMI Pass-Thru, allowing people to connect watch TV on their console.

I currently have a Blu-ray player and Smart TV with most of the apps and capabilities that I want but either game consoles would probably fulfill my needs if I were to decide to upgrade. And I have no particular preference for either when it comes to games because most of the games I play are on my Windows based PC.

Had the Xbox One been $100 cheaper I would probably have gone with that console because of the HDMI Pass-Thru and networking with my current computer. But overall I’d say they’re neck and neck, though I’m sure gamers have another opinion. 🙂