Abracadabra! Downloadable DVDs

Harry Potter fans can perform a little magic of their own tomorrow when they purchase the Order of the Phoenix DVD, as it comes with a downloadable version of the movie that can be transferred to a PC or portable device. And Harry isn’t alone. Last month, the Live Free or Die Hard DVD included a downloadable version of the film, while Sony just announced it will offer up a download version of Resident Evil: Extinction via DVD as well.

Warner Bros., which is releasing Order of the Phoenix , is experimenting with two types of DVD/download hybrid options — “E-copy” and “Digital Copy” — according to Video Business. E-copy, which was used on releases like Superman Returns and Ocean’s Thirteen, allowed consumers to download a copy of those films over the web after purchasing the DVD from select retailers. Potter is the Digital Copy option, in which a downloadable file is included on one of the DVDs itself.

Whether one option is better than the other depends on how you define convenience. The Digital Copy option require additional physical media, but the transfer time to the PC is much shorter than downloading it off the web, whereas the E-Copy takes longer but doesn’t require a second disk.

While it’s not a perfect solution, these hybrid DVDs do provide a — let’s call it a baby step — in the right direction. At least studios are recognizing that the TV isn’t the only place we watch movies. And not having to wait forever for a download is nice. But with these hybrid options, you’re still stuck buying a physical DVD, and there are DRM restrictions: Live Free or Die Hard only works with media players that run Microsoft’s Plays for Sure technology, while Extinction works with the PlayStation Portable.