I was offered the unique opportunity to review the new Redbox Instant by Verizon service for a month for free through BzzAgent. I have subscribed to Netflix for years, and I use Hulu without the Plus service. I figured I didn’t really need another streaming video service, but I don’t have cable, and anything that gives me free access to new shows and movies for a month is a good thing in my book. Plus, I figured I might actually prefer and switch over to the service. For the same fee that I’m paying for Netflix, Redbox Instant includes four Redbox kiosk rentals per month. That allows me to watch new releases well before they hit the instant streams, and it really appealed to me.
The following is my review of the service based upon my own personal experience, which you may or may not find helpful if you’re considering its use. Please remember that these do not reflect the opinions of either BzzAgent or Redbox Instant by Verizon.
Wow. The first thing I noticed as I browsed through the list of streaming titles was that this service parties like it’s 1989. Movies I haven’t watched since I was a kid, and a LOT of them, were scrolling past my eyes at an astounding frequency. I’m not exactly sure that this qualifies as a “feature” for the younger generation, though. After all, many of the movies that were made in the 80s were garbage in quality to today’s cinematic achievements, and young users may or may not have even heard of some of the titles. Still, there’s a special place in my heart for them. If you love the 80s, you’ll love Redbox Instant.
Redbox Instant has a HUGE collection of documentaries. I was legitimately impressed. As someone who is just as likely to watch the television to learn something as to be entertained by the “boob tube,” I find documentaries fascinating. I was a little surprised to see what a small percentage of the documentaries had to do with nature, though. There’s plenty of social, political, and holywood flicks, but there aren’t nearly as many about ocean life, insects and volcanoes as I would like to see.
The Envelope by the Los Angeles Times is a great feature on Redbox Instant. These short films give you actor and director interviews about new movies, giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse at their creation. To my knowledge, this content is unique to Redbox, and it’s a pretty decent offering, in my opinion. I’m sometimes simply amazed at what can be done through film, and I enjoy learning about the process.
I have very mixed feelings about the four Redbox rentals per month deal that’s included with the $8.99 subscription fee. On one hand, you’re getting them included for the same price that you’d pay for Netflix streaming only (with no mail service), and this is designed to be a big selling point for their service. However, you have to return your movies the next day or pay penalty fines. For a nominal extra fee, Netflix will add one DVD to your streaming subscription. That’s one DVD at a time, not one DVD per month. If you’re the type to return movies the next day anyway, you could watch as many as 10 DVDs in a month on the Netflix plan.
The category searches on Redbox Instant are far too broad. Maybe I’m spoiled by my other services, but if I’m feeling like a romantic comedy, I don’t feel like I should have to filter through stand-up routines and sitcoms to find it. It would be very helpful if there were navigable subcategories.
It’s a No Show
One of the things I enjoy the most about my Netflix subscription and basic Hulu is the ability to watch streaming episodes of television shows. Redbox Instant doesn’t offer this, at least at this time. There are only movies, which seems like a real bummer when it’s operating on the same price point as services that do.
Tough for Tots
As you probably already know, I have two children. My “Suggestions For You” section on Netflix is filled with cartoons and talking train engines because the kids watch lots of great shows and videos on it. Along with the complete lack of television show offerings for kids, which eliminates favorites like Dinosaur Train, Curious George and others, the family movie section feels like an afterthough. Maybe it isn’t, though. I mean, Redbox kind of doesn’t stand a chance in the Kiddo department: Their contract with Disney and the pending one from Dreamworks means that Netflix has a handle on the best kids content. Every time a new wave of Disney movies gets uploaded to Netflix, I have a little party inside because I missed a lot of them growing up. I kind of doubt anything that gets added to Redbox is going to make me legitimately happy and excited.
The “I Called to Cancel After One Day of Subscription”
Loveless for Linux
Redbox Instant does not support Linux. . . at all. You have to download Microsoft Silverlight in order to watch any of the instant streaming content. That’s complete garbage, Redbox. I understand that Linux users like myself are a minority, but it’s really not hard to include us in your demographic. I’m actually ridiculously upset about this. I do have a Windows emulator on my laptop, but its function is unreliable with some things, and I don’t feel like I should have to jump through hoops to enjoy a service that’s attempting to join the mainstream of movie content. Netflix and Hulu work just fine with my browser, and I don’t need any proprietary software downloaded onto my computer. I just don’t understand why any service would do this.
All of those documentaries and special features that I was looking forward to experiencing are just a tease at this point, and as soon as I post this blog, I’m calling to cancel my subscription — because it’s worthless to me. If I want four Redbox Instant rentals per month, that’s still just $4. I don’t need to pay extra for unwatchable streaming videos. Also, I don’t think that the system requirements were especially clear during registration, or I wouldn’t have bothered giving them my email address and credit card information.
Redbox Instant by Verizon, you disappoint big time. I suggest making a few changes before you jump out of Beta because I simply can’t recommend your service at this point. Between the clunky organization, the limited content, and the complete dismissal of Linux users, I am left with the feeling that this service was thrown together in a rush just to make a few dollars. You can, and really should, do better with Redbox Instant; it has potential that’s just not delivered.
I have no intentions of leaving Netflix for Redbox Instant, which was a distinct possibility just a day ago before I started exploring what you had to offer.