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

Stop Online Dating Scammers from Spooking You this Halloween
Oct 31, 2014 - Today might be Halloween, but that doesn?t mean you want a spooky surprise when you?re online dating. Trying to find a compatible partner is hard enough without having to worry about getting scammed. Earlier in the week, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on British-based website JDI Datin...

Don't Let the Real Ghouls Steal Your Identity this Halloween
Oct 31, 2014 - Vampires, ghosts and goblins are the stuff of nightmares, but the real frights aren't the things that go bump in the night. Among the most terrifying things in life are identity thieves, who are poised and ready to steal your information and wreak havoc on your finances. The damage that can be do...

What's the Easiest Way to Make a Professional Website?
Oct 30, 2014 - Q: I?d like to start my own professional website for my recreational photography. What?s an easy to use service that would allow me expand my site in the future, such as adding an online store? Thanks for your question. With so many web hosting services out there, it can be difficult to pick one ...

Credit Card Rewards: Are They Valuable?
Oct 29, 2014 - Credit cards rewards are a great way to earn perks while you use your card. There are a variety of rewards to choose from, including cash back and points that can be redeemed for travel or gift cards to use in stores, restaurants, gas stations or for online shopping. The credit card rewards optio...

Federal Benefits to be Issued on Chip and PIN Cards
Oct 29, 2014 - Starting next year, federal benefits will be distributed on government-issued chip and PIN debit cards, also known as EMV cards, as stated by an executive order signed by President Obama earlier this month. They are intended to replace the currently issued magnetic stripe debit cards. People who ...

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.