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Wednesday February 22, 2006
Where to rent DVDs
I rented Doom from the RedBox machine at the nearby McDonalds. Usually I rent from the local Blockbuster. I've used NetFlix before, though I'm not a member now.
Which is best?
Let's rate each in terms of Cost, Service, Selection, and Convenience.
COST: If you know what you want to watch, and are ready to watch it and return it the next day, you can't beat Redbox for cost. $1.00 plus tax. Blockbuster Rewards is probably the next best, because for $3.99+tax you get TWO movies (a new release and a Favorites), and with their new "no late fees" policy you can keep even the 2-day rentals for a week before they're late and you have to buy them. If you're a movie-renting machine, NetFlix or the Blockbuster membership might be best, though. We never managed to watch more than 6 movies per month on the NetFlix basic package, which comes out to around $3.00 per DVD. Your mileage may vary.
SERVICE: You'll get the best service at Blockbuster. There's no substitute for an actual human being. Granted, this depends on you acting like a human being, and befriending the wage-slaves behind the counter, but once you do this you'll get movie recommendations, help finding things, and all-round good treatment. It's a toss-up from there between NetFlix and Redbox... NetFlix makes you interact with a website, and Redbox makes you interact with a giant vending machine. I'm going to lean towards the vending machine, though, because after I punch its buttons, it actually hands me a movie. The website merely assures me that something is coming in the mail.
SELECTION: NetFlix wins this hands-down... provided you haven't gotten onto their "throttle" algorithm, where in order to slow down your turnaround they hold back your first pick and send it to someone else. (Sandra read an article about that, but I don't have a link.) Next up would be Blockbuster. Waaaay down at the bottom would be Redbox, which only has a couple dozen titles, all of which are recent releases.
CONVENIENCE: This depends on what you consider "convenient." When Blockbuster didn't have Doom, Redbox was a lot more convenient than NetFlix would have been. When I want to watch a movie, I want to watch THAT movie TONIGHT. Brick-and-Mortar (or Big Red Robot) edifices provide that convenience. If you're already AT McDonalds grabbing a bite, then RedBox is hard to beat. If, however, you just want movies to show up in the mail, and you're willing to be patient, NetFlix is pretty nice. When we had a NetFlix membership, though, we always ended up renting at least once or twice from BlockBuster because there was something we didn't want to wait for.
SUMMARY: I'll keep renting from Blockbuster for three reasons:
1) Most movies I rent I want to keep for at least a couple of days. That erodes the MyRedBox price advantage. And stuff I rent for the kids gets kept for a week as they watch it over and over.
2) I don't want a monthly bill. I try to keep my movie-renting down to around 3 rentals per month, which at Blockbuster is $12 plus tax for 3 new releases and 3 favorites.
3) I like the experience of walking up and down the aisles picking something. Sometimes I go in, walk up and down the aisles, and pick NOTHING. I'm okay with that.
That said, for a movie like Doom, where I want to see it, but I know nobody else in the house does, and I'm pretty sure I'll be done with it after one evening, RedBox is a good way to go... provided it's one of the two dozen movies they have in stock.
Of course all this may change when my brother Randy moves back to town this summer. He may end up living right next door, and he's a movie junkie with a NetFlix Membership.