Online Video & DVD Rentals
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.
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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.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.