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TheStreet Open House

Wal-Mart's Disc Conversion: Is It Worth It?

Stocks in this article: WMTNFLXDIS

In other words, if you paid $5 to convert your old DVD into a high-definition digital copy with an eye toward watching it on your new iPad's Retina Display, you're out of luck.

Keep in mind: It is possible to download converted movies to a PC or Mac; just not to the iPad or other mobile devices.

You're not a big Disney fan.
If your DVD collection consists mainly of Disney (DIS) movies, we have bad news for you: While five major movie studios have signed on to the program, Disney is notably absent. So if you bring in a stack of Disney DVDs, we're afraid the nice people at Wal-Mart won't be able to help you.

The whole concept doesn't offend you.
This might be the biggest objection people have about the service: You're being asked to pay twice for one movie. While it's reasonable to ask people to pay to convert their standard-definition DVDs into high-definition streams, charging $2 just so you can watch your DVD without needing a physical disc seems excessive. Shouldn't movie studios be grateful you bought the disc at all, and reward you by giving you the freedom to watch it any which way you please? (Some studios are already providing that service by including digital download codes in Blu-rays, but for what you're paying for those discs it would almost be a crime if they didn't include that option.)

The good news is that if all you care about is having a digital copy of your DVDs to watch on your computer, you do have the option of downloading a program that lets you "rip" the movie onto your hard drive, with no trip to Wal-Mart or $2 fee necessary. But some discs will be copy-protected against this via digital-rights management technology, and even if you do manage to rip it and subsequently upload it to a third-party cloud service, streaming probably won't be as convenient as having it available through a service such as Vudu, which has built-in support on plenty of devices.

So you can see the $2 cost as a convenience fee, of sorts. Just make sure the convenience that this service provides is actually worth your time and money.

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