Since the death of the video store and the news of Netflix’s price jump, renting movies has become pretty difficult. Yes folks, it is tome to discover new movie watching options. Expand those horizons. In comparing different services, we should look at the option of physical DVDs vs. online streaming, pricing, as well as convenience and selection. Onward…
Although you may have thought Blockbuster fell off the face of the planet, it still exists and they offer online renting and DVD-by-mail subscriptions. This means both physical DVDs and online streaming. The by-mail DVD service is called Total Access and costs $9.99 a month for 1 disc at a time or $14.99 for 2 discs. And online rentals are by the movie for about $3 or $4 depending on the film’s popularity.
While the selection is nothing like that of the 100,000 titles on Netflix, Blockbuster offers a wide selection of video game rentals (something that Netflix does not). Blockbuster also provides a 30-day free trial and often has new releases a month before Netflix and Redbox. Overall, Blockbuster is probably the ideal solution for a movie guru or gaming junkie.
Hulu offers HuluPlus for $7.99 a month for online streaming. Hulu is the best if you are looking for current TV shows. Many times the whole season, or even the entire series, is available for viewing. Plus can stream through gaming systems and mobile devices so you aren’t limited to watching on your computer screen. Movies, on the other hand, are not as current as their television shows. With about 1400 movies and documentaries available in Plus, it’s still just a fraction of the Netflix library.
The advantage of paying one fee and having unlimited access to so many shows is great for TV buffs. But if movies are what you like, I’d look elsewhere.
Don’t count Zediva among all the sketchy movie streaming services you’ve never heard of; Zediva is legitimate. Through Zediva, you rent a DVD and a DVD player online. Renting the DVD player allows you to access your DVD rental no matter what kind of Internet connection you have. There are no restrictions. And you also get the benefit of all the extras that come on a physical DVD. Zediva claims it has some movie titles weeks or even months before Netflix and Redbox.
The rentals are a one-by-one deal, no monthly subscriptions of any kind yet. But at only $2 a movie or $10 for 10, the rates aren’t too bad. When you rent a movie, even online, you have control of a physical copy of that film. Because of that, you only have 4 hours at a time to watch the movie within 2 weeks of the rental date. So if you pause the movie or have to stop halfway through, you can restart that 4 hour time frame by clicking the rental button again without being charged a second time (as long as you’re still within that 2 weeks).
Right now, Zediva is invitation only, but you can sign a waiting list to receive an invitation. They provide the most popular titles of each year so when you’re looking for that obscure cult film, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Zediva factors out to being a cheaper alternative to Netflix if you watch only three movies per month.
The iTunes rental section makes me flashback to the days of physical video stores. The prices are scaled based on how recent and good the movie is. You’re given thirty days to start watching your rental. The down side is, once you’ve started you only get 24 hours to finish it. So if you really like the movie, you can watch it over and over, back to back in that 24-hour window. But sheesh, what a headache that would be.
Amazon Prime Instant Video is purely for streaming purposes and exclusive to Amazon Prime members (which goes for $79 per year). After those specifications, Instant Video is a online video service that is lacking in content. Only about 2500 videos and TV shows are available. And while that might sound like a lot, the current titles are just not there. If you happen to be an Amazon Prime member, you should definitely look into this perk; but for everyone else, be hesitant.
After all these analyses, Netflix is still competitive, even after their price increase. They now offer online streaming for $7.99 a month or 1 DVD by-mail plan for $7.99 a month. For both plans you will have to pay $15.98. If I open my own rental location, I’ll let you know. Until then, try out these and see which fits your needs best.