DVDs are, unfortunately, going out of style in the wake of more open and robust streaming services and platforms. This is sad news for people who own a large DVD (or even worse, a large VHS) collection. You could in theory rip the files and add them to an DLNA (digital living room network alliance) server, but you may run into a legal gray area. Additionally, you lose a lot of the benefits that you got from a DVD: menus and special features. Sometimes DVD makers would even put small games into the disc.
DVD Watchbox is an odd combination of a lot of different ideas. Recently shown at CES, it is a $150 set-top box which includes desktop software. The desktop software converts the DVD to a format capable of streaming. Then, it is stored and made available to other devices on your network.
This is similar to a DLNA server or Plex, but the software keeps the DVD intact completely. You interact with the DVD menus just as they once were, and even things like the FBI warning intact.
This means you need to have a computer always connected to your network in order to stream DVDs, and it has to be large enough to store each DVD image, which can be almost 5GB each. Blu-Ray DVDs can store nearly 10 times that amount.
I’m writing about this set-top box because it’s actually running Android TV. It’s hard to say exactly to what extent. A lot of the OS is hidden behind their custom UI. As the CEO of the company VidOn, Bill Loesch said:
Anything that tries to compete with Roku, Google, Amazon, and Apple is suicidal.
So is this an Android TV device? It is in the background, so I imagine some interested person will find a way to expose the entire system at some point. Having it certified as an Android TV device means it passes Google’s checklist and has Google Play support.
The device is currently on BestBuyif you are particularly interested.