Sorry guys/gals, I don't normally write reviews so plesae be kind on me.
As most may know, Redbox has teamed up with Verizon to become a competitor to Netflix and perhaps put a dampening effect on Netflix's success in both the streaming and disc rental service. Having learned about their plans to add this to their offerings at Redbox, I signed up on their site (redboxinstant.com) and waited for around a month and received my invitation code yesterday.
When you first log into the Redbox Instant site after activating the service, you are greeted with the account login page for their kiosks you will find all over the country. If you haven't ever used the online service to reserve a movie at a kiosk, then you can create an account from there, otherwise login.
After logging in and connecting your account to the streaming service, you are given a 1 month trial of their service and 4 free movie rentals per month at their kiosks.
We quickly found their movie selection for streaming to be sub par with new releases trailing far behind and the variety being a bit low. However, with this being a brand new and still in beta service, you can expect their library to grow soon if they intend to become a viable competitor in the rental/streaming arena. Below, is a snap of some of their selections:
As you can see, most movies just don't look to be very exciting (At least for us) to want to stream. With that said though, I do want to mention that just because you don't see your favorite movie in there, doesn't mean it isn't. For example, you can search for Resident Evil and find all movies ready to stream as part of your subscription. Same goes with the Star Trek movie series, you can find all movies from the first through the last ready to stream as well.
Their site has no apparent 'instant que' or the like that Netflix does so you can't just push a movie into a watch later situation, however, you can bookmark the video on their site for later viewing. (Not a browser bookmark), so in a sense, it does make a que.
When it comes to rental credits, you do get 4 free DVD rentals per month at the kiosk (you get Blu-Ray for $1/month more), that you use when you rent online or at the kiosk. When checking out, choose the 'use credits' button and it will tie the credits to your account after swiping your credit card that is tied to your account.
As mentioned above you can receive Blu-Ray for $1/more per month in you rental credit pool to make your package $9/month. Below is the screen you see where you can change your plan. One word of note though - changing your plan during the trial cancels the trial:
Redbox at the moment supports streaming through your iPad, Ipod, or Android based device as well as your PC, with plans to support more devices in the future. I was looking for my Samsung Blu-Ray to be supported, but missed the boat by 1 year in the manufacturer's date (2011 and newer models are fine), but hopefully that will change soon.
We only have had a chance to stream one movie so far but this was good enough to test for our needs. I ran an HDMI feed from my laptop to our LCD TV and it broadcasted nicely to being full HD on our screen.
While streaming Rango (for our daughter), we did have one instance where the movie paused about halfway through. After about 2 minutes of pause and the 'wheel' spinning on the screen, it finally resumed however, the movie was paused with the sound playing in the background. We fixed this by just moving the movie position in the drag bar in the window to a minute behind and things were fine after that. Whether this was a streaming issue or my computer (Win 8 laptop) I wouldn't know, but not something that would discourage us from using the service again.
Our thoughts as a family:
We rent roughly 4-10 movies from the kiosks per month depending on what selection is available. We also stream movies without the DVD option through Netflix and enjoy the selection of TV shows that have been made available through their service, but have also been a bit dissapointed in some of their movie offerings or the 'DVD Only" option for some of our more favorite movies.
We have used Netflix for several years now and have even used both the DVD and streaming plan together. I have to admit, the convenience of returning a movie, getting the new one a day later (in most cases in our area if you dropped the movie in the mail slot early enough), it was quite fantastic with no late fees. Whereas Redbox, you are charged by the day which has left us paying as much as $6 to rent a single title. (Busy lifestyle, full time university student in house, child to raise etc..).
Both my wife and I immediately saw the convenience of being able to rent a movie at a kiosk with the included credit and attribute a savings against the rental (yes you still get charged per day of rental after the first day), but more in the fact that when you are done with the movie, you go to any kiosk (We have about 4 within a 2 mile radius), and return the movie. No getting lost in the mail (has happened before with Netflix - although they are awesome about it), or having to wait to get your next movie. (as long as the kiosk has it).
While this service is still quite young and the first impression of the movie selection is mediocre, (for us), we will probably stick with the plan for a few months to see how things shape up. Will it be a Netflix killer, we doubt it, rather it might be a nice companion to their services. Admittedtly, Netflix has a massive TV library now and mega movie library so unless Redbox can beat that, we won't drop them just yet.
What about Amazon, Vudu and Hulu...etc? We have used Vudu mostly in the past alongside Netflix to stream some of the harder to find movies, but a per stream rental price just doesn't work for us personally.