Online Video & DVD Rentals

Updated 09-17-2014

Over the past five years, watching videos in the comfort of your home has gotten easier and easier. First, there were DVD rental services that delivered movies and TV shows right to your doorstep. Then, there was the ability to download movies to your computer straight from the web. Now, there is streaming video, which allows you to watch videos instantly on your computer, TV or mobile device. With DVD rentals, downloads and streaming video becoming the gold standard of video viewing, there are a slew of providers to choose from. So which is the best? We looked at each of the top services, rating them based on pricing, selection, video quality, viewing options and customer service. Check out our reviews below to find out which one fits your needs best.

Online Video & DVD Rentals Reviews & Ratings


Services: Our Ratings: Bottom Line:
Netflix Rating:stars
Largest collection of unlimited streaming videos plus 30-day free trial make it the best online video site
Amazon Instant Video Rating:stars
Good selection of movies and TV shows, but most are pay-per-video, which gets expensive. Amazon Prime members get a great selection of free movies/TV shows.
Hulu Rating:stars
The best collection of current TV programming, unlimited streaming and a free version of the service make this one of our top choices
Redbox Instant Rating:stars
Streaming selection doesn't quite compare to Netflix or Amazon, but RedBox Instant is a solid service with good amount of recognizable titles.
iTunes Rating:stars
One of the best selection of TV shows and movies, but pay-per-video pricing makes it expensive
YouTube Rating:stars
Short selection of TV shows or movies, and interface is confusing and limited
CinemaNow Rating:stars
Great selection of instant streaming movies, but no TV show rentals

NextAdvisor Blog Headlines

Which is the Best Online Meeting Software?
Dec 19, 2014 - Q: I have a small business and I rely on communicating with people outside of the office. I?d like to use online meeting software, but I?m not sure which one is the best, particularly when it comes to value. Can you help? Thank you for your question! What was once just a reality in science [...]

Top Online Dating Trends for 2015
Dec 19, 2014 - January 1st usually promises a renewed hope to those looking for love, and online dating services are now making it even easier to zero in on the possibility of finding "the one." In the past, online dating focused primarily on perfecting your Internet presence. Users were asked to highlight thei...

Apple Names its Top Apps of 2014: Password Manager Makes Top 10
Dec 18, 2014 - Apple has released its list of top apps just in time for the New Year. Although Instagram's Hyperlapse was a close runner-up, Elevate, a brain-training app, took app of the year. Among other top-ranked apps was, surprisingly, a password manager app called 1Password. What?s a password manager? Pas...

Electronic Proof of Auto Insurance on the Rise
Dec 17, 2014 - You might have seen the Geico commercials, which show the pig using the company's app to provide his proof of insurance, and wondered "will that actually work?" As it turns out, electronic proof of auto insurance is a growing trend in the U.S. In fact, earlier this week the New Jersey General Ass...

Twitter Tries Social Commerce with 'Buy' Button: Should You Use It?
Dec 17, 2014 - E-commerce has become one of the biggest trends over the past couple of decades. More and more people are turning to online shopping every year, and are now using their smartphones to look for deals. According to IBM Digital Analytics, online sales over Thanksgiving weekend were up 17% from last ...

Online Video
& DVD Rentals
Overview

How do streaming video, downloaded videos and DVD rentals work?

For streaming video, each company has a library of videos that are available for streaming. When you select a video to watch, the company compresses the video and sends it over the Internet in a continuous stream of data, so that you can play the video in real time. Streaming video works best with a faster Internet connection, so if your connection is on the slower side, streaming might not be a viable option. Most companies like Netflix and Hulu only offer streaming options, where sites like Amazon and iTunes will let you download the video to your computer.

Downloaded video copies the video file to your computer, where it is housed (unless you are renting the video, in which case it will be deactivated/deleted after a specific time period.) Downloaded video can be viewed any time without an Internet connection, as long as you keep it saved on your computer.

For DVD rentals, the services we recommend all offer plans that allow you to keep a certain number (1,2,3 or more) of DVDs rented at the same time for as long as you want. You choose the DVDs you want to rent from a selection of tens of thousands through the service's website and compile a list, or queue, of the DVDs that you want to watch. They ship you the number of DVDs in your plan through the U.S. Postal Service's First Class Mail and include a prepaid envelope to ship them back. As soon as they receive a DVD back from you, they immediately ship you the next one on your queue.

What's the difference between streaming and downloaded video?

The main difference between steaming and downloaded video is speed. Streaming video basically lets you watch videos instantly, while downloading only allows you to view a video once it's downloaded. (iTunes actually allows you to start watching while the video is downloading.) The upside of downloaded video is that once it is downloaded, it is housed on your computer (unless you are renting it, then it will be deactivated/deleted after a specific time period) and you can watch it any time without an internet connection. The downside of that is that if you download too many videos, it can slow down your computer. Streaming video gives you access to thousands of videos without slowing down your computer, although it works best with a faster Internet connection, so if you have a slow connection, downloading might be a better option.


Sign Up For Our Newsletter



Advertiser Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most but not all of the companies whose products and services we review. For credit cards, we review cards from all of the top 10 US issuers by purchase volume (according to Issue 1035 of The Nilson Report, Feb 2014) excluding issuers that require additional accounts to be a cardholder and private label issuers. We may also review cards from other issuers in select cases. We do not review all products in a given category. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.