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I Rented a Disc From Redbox — for the First Time

17 Feb, 2014 By: Adam Gregorich, Home Theater Forum

When it comes to movies, I have never been a frequent renter. And when the retail rental stores in my extended neighborhood became extinct, I stopped completely. It’s been several years since I last rented a movie. Renting from a red vending machine just didn’t have the same appeal compared to my recollection of wandering the aisles of titles.

Recently I gave in and decided to give Redbox a try. My usual modus operandi is to buy Blu-rays I’m interested in at Amazon or a local retailer, but for some reason I just couldn’t do it with Elysium, despite the positive review at Home Theater Forum. I’m not sure if it was budget overload from the holidays or a feeling that it wouldn’t get a lot of repeat viewings, but I just couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger at the sellthrough price. After carrying it around Best Buy for 20 minutes while shopping, it hit me: I could check it out through Redbox. For $1.50 why not give it a shot? That seemed a lot more reasonable than spending $25 for a film I may not watch again.

I went home, set up an account online, reserved a copy at my nearest Redbox and picked it up. It was pretty painless. It was a bit annoying to become reacquainted with the “watch me now or pay more later” feeling that comes from knowing you need to have a title back in 24 hours to prevent additional charges. That, combined with the fact it took me a few tries to feed my return into the machine the wrong way (I’m not good with following directions), were the only things standing in the way of me considering the experience a complete success.

Does my first successful rental mean I will be a frequent customer? Not really. I plan on renting Ender’s Game, so my local Redbox will be seeing more of me, but I don’t think we will ever be on a first-name basis. There are a few things still preventing me from switching from retail to more rental. Vending rental has limited title selections, a lack of catalog and no 3D titles. Also, the studios are releasing rental versions with limited or no special features. The biggest obstacle for me, however, is the rental blackout window many studios have — normally I’m not willing to wait an extra 28 or so days to watch a movie, and considering the instant gratification, special features (including 3D) and the usual inclusion of a digital copy, a new-release Blu-ray is a pretty good value when you take into account retailer discounting.

So even though I’m going back for another rental, blackout windows and a lack of special features on some titles deter me from renting. I think it’s telling that I’ve already purchased or preordered nine titles this month that won’t be at my local Redbox until several weeks after retail release.

About the Author: Adam Gregorich

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