I was invited to take part in the Redbox Instant Beta Test Campaign for free. I was definitely excited for this one. I enjoy watching movies in the theater on the big screen, however due to sold out shows or frigid temperatures in this region, I lack the motivation to bundle up in layers. I don’t always pre-purchase tickets to leave my house much earlier than show time to “camp out” for a spot. Its also annoying to drive 45-60 minutes to find out the show is sold out or the only seats left are in the neck-ache inducing front row. That being said its nice to have instant streaming movies as an option in this day and age. Yay for technology!
Verizon’s Instant Beta has begun rolling out to those of us who were lucky enough to be invited into the private beta. Once I received my code for the campaign, I dove in feet first. I am a pretty tech savvy person, and staying on top of technology and sciences well its just one of my many interests and passions if you will. I didn’t anticipate I would have much trouble to figure this site out, as say a non technical person would.
The selection of movies is not very great, it’s quite slim and disappointing. I have a much larger selection with my Netflix account. Of the selection they do offer, most were older movies or cheesy ones I would not want to watch. The genre’s and subgenre’s were limited, not as vast as the options with Netflix. Additionally some of the categories I was interested in such as Bollywood movies, were not available at all in the foreign section or musical section.
I thought okay most American’s won’t watch Bollywood so let me try another favorite of mine, sci-fi, yet that ended up being the genre that had the aforementioned high cheese factor. The movies shown on their site were one’s I can picture the Mystery Science Theater 3000 [MST3k] crew getting their hands on, if they have not all ready. I’m not sure if any of those cheesy one’s were even available to watch as I was feeling frustrated trying to find available videos on streaming so I gave up.
Interface wasn’t too hard to figure out but again not as simple as Netflix’s account. I was trying to figure out how to save movies to a queue the way I do on Netflix, I saw a few icons so I started clicking on things and eventually figured out that the ticket stub icon was how you bookmark them to find easier and remind your self that you wanted to watch the movie or rent it. I wished there had been perhaps a tutorial or legend of icons.
I kept encountering error messages and would see duplicated movie posters in the selections right next to each other. Almost as if someone didn’t QA or spot check things before go live.
On the iPad app, only 1 of the 19 movies I selected / and bookmarked would play, the 18 the only available option was a preview. It wasn’t until I was at the computer that I found out these were only available at the kiosk only. The iPad app wasn’t as easy to log into as one would think. I thought that since I had set up an account I could just log in with my email address, however I ended up having to dig through my email, to find out I had to go to the campaign page to find that code for this beta test in order to log into the app. I couldn’t get the code to copy paste correctly so I had to keep switching apps until I finally had the code input directly.
I found the iPad app to pretty much be a waste of time since the limited selection of movies I was remotely interested in trying only had the preview available, especially since the app wouldn’t even display these were available at the store kiosk. I didn’t see a way to separate out kiosk only movies vs. subscription only movies.
If your someone who likes to read reviews, then take note that not many user’s have written reviews of movies in the way you can find on Netflix. I believe that must be since it’s still such a new service but one can not be sure. Users do that the ability to rate the movies on the site, the same as with Netflix.
Sure this streaming service is cheaper at $8 encompassing 4 movies and unlimited streaming compared to my Netflix where I have unlimited movies mailed to me for $15.99 and unlimited streaming for $7.99 for a total of 23.98. It may be a bit pricier but to me worth it. I don’t have to leave my house to get the physical DVDs as I would with RedBox. The redbox kiosk’s aren’t at all stores, and I seldom go to places that have the kiosk so for me personally that would be a hassle.
Searching for movies on either format was also problematic. I would see a movie I wanted to find out more about. Instead of immediately clicking on the movie, I scrolled around some more and decided later to search out that movie in my mind. When I searched for movies by their exact name the results were either nothing at all, or not only be unable to find the correctly spelled movie title, but it would also show nothing but other non related items.
One movie I found available to rent was only available to stream on the computer and not the iPad. So on the computer I went, and when I tried to play the movie it would throw up error messages and never would play.
The time available for me to watch a rented movie[had it worked] was not appealing either. I prefer Netflix in this round also. They don’t force time limits to their users, and you also don’t have to separately rent movies for added fees like I would with Redbox.
If i tried a different browser I had to grab that code again in order to be let into the site instead of it just asking for my email which would have been a much better user experience. I had to go log into the bzzagent campaign to get the code again.
Movie would not play in chrome, Firefox, or IE. in trouble shooting the error message their site troubleshooting section said that it was a Silverlight issues. Well other sites that user Silverlight play things just fine. re-installing Silverlight and running the Microsoft Silverlight fix it tool also did not sort it.
I started to think, god I really hope this site did not charge my credit card for a movie that I can’t play! So I reached out to customer service at that point. I did hate having to put in my credit card info for a trial, after a month I was hoping it would just close out my account if I didn’t bother to start a subscription plan and enter in the credit card details. Instead I have set a calendar reminder for myself to cancel the service.
I guess rentals online are not free compared to online streaming and the included 4 kiosk rentals? Seems a bit confusing on the site. I did have to contact customer support who responded quickly. I choose the live chat option, and was able to get my money refunded since the rental movie would not play. After speaking with the quick responding tech support they were able to reverse the charged since the rented movie was not cooperating, and also a few hours later after their tier 2 support team investigated emailed to let me know that this video has a known bug and should have been removed from the catalog. They appreciated me letting them know and have since removed it from the catalog until the bug is resolved.
Just to see how the streaming goes for anything that would play I clicked on of the random movie on the site, that no surprise I had never heard of. The site utilizes Microsoft Silverlight player to stream the movies. No complaints about that at least. Redbox streams the whole movie and it must temporarily cache it to your drive, as there were no buffering issues at all when the movie played. Even if I paused it to grab a drink, or let it sit over night when I fell asleep. I am on high-speed broad band which is a requirement of this service. If nothing else, at least the video quality was comparable to the outstanding quality I receive from Netflix.
I entered this campaign having no set thoughts or expectations and kept an open mind. It’s a good thing otherwise in this case I would have been sorely disappointed. I am glad I did not pay for this service as I would have asked for a refund and cancelled my account post haste. The streaming service is subpar, and while it does not need to go to the drawing board, it does need a bit more work to edge out the remainder of bugs and address all the above mentioned issues. The redbox characters in the adverts around the web are amusing. Since the service does not meet or exceed what I am looking for in online streaming service I will be sticking with Netflix who offer more content and options with no bugs.
- Outstanding customer service! They are polite, fast, efficient and prompt.
- Rent and watch movies from the comfort of home.
- Many bugs and errors still present on both the computer and with the iPad app.
- Small selection of movies to choose from. Not all genre’s represented so not all audiences would be interested in the available content.
- Most uploaded content is hokey and the movies are mainly ones users would not have an interest in.
This service still needs more testing so I would suggest they hold off on rolling this out for a few more quarters or even a full year. I would also suggest they ramp up and offer a larger selection of both tv shows and movies. A tutorial of features would also be nice.
Save your money! Or better yet go with Netflix.
Additional Product Info:
- You can instantly stream Hollywood mega-hits to any internet-connected device, including smartphones (iPhone and Android), tablets, computers and Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray Players.
- The Redbox Instant by Verizon app is limited to certain devices, but is not needed to stream content.
- You can buy and rent movies digitally without a subscription, including today’s newest releases.
- Browse Redbox locations and reserve movies at the box of your choice using the app, too!
- The $8/month subscription gives you the best value for your bucks: unlimited streaming + 4 DVD credits per month (1 DVD credit = 1 night rental) to use at over 40,000 Redbox locations nationwide.
- You don’t have to be a Verizon customer to sign up for the service, but you do need high-speed internet access to use it.
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