Video rentals use to mean driving to the movie rental store, walk around the shelves and looking for the latest releases (hoping that all copies weren’t check out), driving the DVD back home, watching it, and then returning it (more often than not, paying a late fee). While not a new concept, various providers are marketing downloadable movies. Faster broadband connections means a movie can be downloaded in about 30 minutes, or less with a fast connection. I recently tried out two services: Apple iTunes movie rentals and Amazon.com unboxed on Tivo. The selection isn’t always complete but as the services mature, it appears that the latest hits are available.
Amazon Unbox on Tivo
I was able to browse, albeit slowly through the Tivo interface, a small selection of movie rentals on Amazon. Rentals are approximately $3.99 and can be as low as $0.99 for less popular or special deals. Tivo requires the download to be complete before you can start watching the movie. Once downloaded–about 30 minutes–I was able to watch my movie.
Similar to Amazon, iTunes operates the same way. Once downloaded, you have 30 days to watch the rental and once the movie plays, you can watch it as many times as you want in a 24 hour period. The resolution is 640×480 and works on iPods and iPhones. After the rental period, the file is disabled and removed from your system.
While quality is not DVD, it works well for a quick download before a flight, or packing it along on your iPhone for some entertainment while on the road. I also found it very convenient compared to the traditional movie rentals. For all you green folks, it’s one less car trip to the store and back.
The price is very fair: $3.99. Selections are decent. The selling factor is convenience. Unless you’re looking for theater quality viewing, the experience is good enough.