We had just a couple of references here on Movielink.com and some comments but no reviews. Well, I have tried it and here are my thoughts on it.
For those not familiar with that, they call themselves an "IP based movie rental service". You basically rent movies by downloading them to your PC (as of now, only WindowsMedia or RealPlayer formats) for watching at a convenient time.
The media files have about 512Mb which in my case (AT&T cable modem) takes about 50min to download. You register using your credit card and they don't ask for too much information there.
The price varies with an average of $3 and the selection is OK, not great. You can see some titles that have been just released for PPV channels. There's no search function, so you have to browse using their categories (action, comedy, blah, blah). In some cases you can see a small trailer for the movie.
They have their own download manager that looks a little bit like those p2p programs. You can see the progress of the download and can launch the player at the end. You have a period of 30 days to watch the movie BUT, only 24 hours to watch it once you hit "play". Of course you can pause or watch it again but only within the 24-hour period after the first play. I think they should give you at least 5 days for that.
The quality is OK, not great but quite alright to watch something for fun. I think it's something around SVCD. My greatest complain is that they only have full screen versions of the movies. No widescreen.
Once you download the movie you have to be connected to start playing it. That's because you have to "authenticate" yourself. So, another bummer. You can't download something to watch on a flight for example. Well, I guess you may be able to start playing at home and then stop it and start again on the plane, but I didn't try that. That would be one advantage over a DVD since you wouldn't be using the DVD-drive thus saving some battery time.
I had problems playing the first movie and had to call support. They gave me a code to rent the movie again but after 3 tries they though there was something wrong with the movie! Bingo, other customer had the same complain. Then I decided to try another movie and had to call support again, which by the way was quite knowledgeable and attentive. I could not download the movie. Here's where I decided I would not use the service again: they recommend that I disabled my firewall (ZoneAlarm) to download it! Even after I did that, it didn't work. The problem seemed to be that I was on my home network on a LinkSys router. They asked me to bypass the router, hook the computer to the cable modem directly and it worked! Here's my complain: I never had to do that for anything, from my company's VPN to my other download services. So if I have to tweak my network/router just to use their service, they've lost a customer. Well, maybe that was just me!
I really liked the idea of being able to download a movie and watch it on my PC, without having to wait for it to come in the mail (NetFlix) or drive to my local video store twice (to pick up and to drop off). I watch the DVDs on my computer anyway, so it doesn't bother me that I don't use a big screen.
But they need to at least work on that download issue and enhance their website (at least include a search button) before I could use their services on a regular basis.
Hope this is helpful to you folks!
Slashdot welcomes reader features and reviews -- thanks to Ismenio for this one.