Gone are the days when renting a movie or video game meant stopping in to your local video store – it’s still possible, but typically it’s not the most convenient or cheapest option. Netflix‘s DVD by mail service put Blockbuster in a tough spot, and their subsequent streaming service has resulted in a drastic drop in DVD rentals. Now you aren’t even limited to movies – you can rent TV shows on DVD and streaming. I’ll give you my opinions on the currently available options, and hopefully help you make the best pick (and save some money in the process!).
If you are completely unfamiliar with the idea of streaming, basically it’s getting TV or movies through the internet rather than traditional cable or satellite. You “stream” through a company that provides the service, and you get the stream to your TV through a compatible device – Wii, XBox 360, PS3, and Roku are very common options. I wrote an article on Streaming Media Players compared – if you’re thinking about purchasing one, that should put you on the right track.
We replaced our TV subscription with Netflix streaming. The biggest arguments I hear against doing so are sporting events and wanting to immediately watch your favorite show – I can’t argue there. For us, paying $8/mo just made far more sense than our roughly $50/mo TV bill. There are lots of options for streaming out there, but the Big Three are Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. The biggest thing to consider when choosing an option is what TV shows you want to watch, and if they are available on that service. Here’s the good thing – neither Netflix or Hulu Plus has a contract, so you can cancel the service if you decide it’s not for you (check it out while waiting for your TV contract to expire). Amazon Instant Video isn’t a contract either, you get it free with an Amazon Prime membership but you have to pay it all up front. Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video all let you check out their available selections before you sign up, so you aren’t coming into it without any info.
DVD, Blu-Ray and Video Game Rentals
You have a few options for cheap disc rentals – disc by mail or kiosks. Netflix and Blockbuster Total Access will both ship DVDs and Blu-Rays right to your door. Netflix is currently $7.99/mo for one disc at a time, and that’s DVDs only. Blu-Rays cost an additional $2 per month. Blockbuster Total Access is $9.99/mo for one disc at a time – including Blu-Rays and video games! If you rent video games often, this is a great option for you. You can even exchange at your local Blockbuster store. Score!
Another option for discs is Redbox, Blockbuster Express, and other movie kiosks. What’s great about these is the price and the convenience – new releases now cost a couple bucks, but you can pick up older movies for about $1 per night. So long as you return the discs quickly it can be a very cheap way to rent movies. One downside is that the selections are pretty limited, but you get what you pay for.
If you’re locked into a TV contract that you don’t want, I would suggest giving the Netflix, Hulu Plus, and/or Blockbuster Total Access FREE trials a try. Amazon Instant Video has a pretty decent selection, it just isn’t shows we want much. But since our lives depend on having Amazon Prime 2-day shipping, we’ll always have it.
Once again, if you aren’t sure about streaming devices, be sure to read my article on Streaming Media Players compared.
What do you use – disc by mail, streaming, or a combination?
Still confused? Ask me any question you want in the comments.