The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

iTunes Movie Rentals - A Good Alternative

I've had the opportunity to rent a few movies off of the iTunes store now. For the most part, the experience is smooth and user friendly. For those who have not yet ventured into the world of online movie rentals, iTunes is a good alternative to the brick and mortar alternatives. Here is a quick list of my likes and dislikes (no apologies for the bulleted list—I loves me a good bulleted list):

The Good

Convenience: An obvious attribute, but important enough to be mentioned here. The ability to decide at the very last minute to rent a movie, and, within five minutes, to be on your way is fantastic. There's nothing worse than a late evening decision to waste two hours of your life, already adorned in your PJ's, and having to leave the house. This technology makes that decision a whole lot easier.

iTunes Store: Offering so much more than just music now, Apple's one stop shop is a pleasant experience. Finding what your are looking for is easy and buying or renting an item is simple. There's no hunting involved.

Speed: In order for online movie rentals to be successful, downloads have to be fast. iTunes doesn't disappoint here. The speed is fast, and even better, you can start your movie before the download is complete and never experience any lag. I've done this with each movie I've rented and have had zero issues. The entire process to the end user is seamless.

Playback: I especially appreciate how iTunes tracks your progress through the movie if you do not watch it in it's entirety in one sitting. Just like a podcast, you can move to other forms of media after starting a movie. But when returning to the file, a simple double click returns you to the point you left. Genius.

The Bad

Selection: For now, Apple's library is a bit small when it comes to movies. As was the case with music, I think this will improve in time. But for the immediate future, there is always a good chance that the movie you are craving to see is not available—especially if you are looking for something older.

Restrictions: My biggest complaint is the time limit. We are a family of five—three young children means we rarely sit down to watch a movie from start to finish. It can sometimes take us three or four nights to finish a two hour flick. 48 hours is simply not enough time for this consumer. For a lot of people, this may not be a concern. But the fact that I can rent a movie from Blockbuster and keep it for two weeks without penalty will at times outweigh the inconvenience of having to drive to the store.


Those are my initial impressions. Due to that last point, there will be times where we choose the old fashioned method of rental because we can take as long as we want to watch it. The time factor is just to critical. But as with most of their products, I'm confident that Apple will improve iTunes movie rentals as it matures. They're already off to a good start.

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