Streaming Movies?

We’re old-fashioned. Despite my professional work in the media, and my interest in technology, as ordinary consumers my family doesn’t quickly embrace new media trends. We only recently acquired a flat-screen television, and the VHS player is hooked up we so can enjoy our old library of cartoons and movies. We’ve purchased a handful of digital movies through iTunes and Amazon. And we’ve never subscribed to Netflix.

It may be time for us to embrace an online movie service, however.

verizon redboxI brought this up to my wife after our third run in two weeks to a nearby Redbox for yet another DVD rental. Factor in the fuel to get over there and back, and I figured we could pay for a monthly online subscription. She saw the wisdom of that thinking. We’re both a bit hesitant, however, about signing up, due to an anticipated demand to watch more films – simply because they are paid for and available. Hmmm.

We’ve done iTunes for ease-of-use and occasional rentals. After those two or three rentals, however, I’ve already spent enough to have a month of unlimited movies from Netflix, Amazon Prime or another service. Again, maybe time for a subscription. Two problems, though. First, which service? And second, we don’t yet have a wifi media receiver/player. Which to get?

As to services, Netflix is, of course, the industry leader in terms of subscriber numbers. In just a few short years, and despite the company’s missteps (remember the idea of spinning off the DVD-mailing service from the streaming service?) they remain the major provider for folks who want to pull up and instantly watch a movie delivered via the internet.

There’s also Amazon Prime – or Amazon Instant – video streaming. There are pros and cons to the streaming services, and it seems Prime is the best value. Can’t argue with the shipping aspects of that deal – we use Amazon for a lot of everyday purchases. Then Hulu and Vudu offer pretty good value and options. And now Redbox has a service…which may be the best option for us in light of our on-going use of DVDs.

Each has strengths, and weaknesses. Nothing conclusive, however, that came from my research leading me to go with one of them over…Netflix.

Netflix remains, as one site suggested last year, the gold standard. However, there was an interesting report by PC Mag indicating it ranks lower in customer satisfaction than some others, however. Still, hard to argue with the ubiquity of the service and its platforms.

As to receivers/players, as an Apple fan, Apple TV seems most logical. But some experts think that the Apple ecosystem is limiting. I know several folks who have Roku and like it.  Apart from a wifi-enabled BluRay player (which we don’t yet own), there aren’t many other options for players (here’s a CNET overview). So I guess we’ll pick a service based on value, ease of use, and availability of family-friendly fare.

I’m open to suggestions. Any advice for me as we entertain the thought of an online streaming subscription?

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