Four Netflix alternatives tested

We tested Netflix against four solid alternatives to see whether switching video providers is worth it.

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World |  Networking, amazon prime, Blockbuster

Unfortunately, instantly streaming in your browser doesn't work very well either. I could get it to work only in Internet Explorer, after unsuccessfully trying Firefox and Safari, both of which Blockbuster says will work.

Blockbuster's website is clunky, too. Pages take a long time to load, and browsing is difficult--the site doesn't remember users' browsing preferences, so I had to change my viewing preference from 'View 10 at a time' to 'View 100 at a time' each time I performed a new search.

Also, you can sort titles within a genre in some ways (such as by rating or release year) but not in others (such as by popularity). I ran into many other problems with the site: I couldn't check out when using the Firefox browser--instead, I had to use IE. When I first tried to check out, I forgot to enter my credit card expiration date, and when I went back to fill it in the credit card number field had been filled with asterisks. Initially, I took this to mean that the site had obscured my credit card number, but apparently 16 asterisks means that the site has removed your credit card number, and you have to reenter it.

Blockbuster's Customer Service, on the other hand, was excellent. When I used the online chat assistance to discuss my problem with checking out, the customer service agent first gave me a 100 percent off coupon for my troubles and then directed me to use IE instead of Firefox.

iTunes Rentals

Stats

Price: $0.99 to $4.99 per rental

Selection: Mostly popular movies, new and old

Notable titles: Transformers, Bridesmaids, Thor

Notably missing titles: Star Wars

Supported platforms: Apple TV, iOS devices, Macs, PCs

Content

If you're looking for TV shows that are no longer available on Hulu Plus or for the latest Blockbuster hits and popular movies, iTunes has a number of titles available for rental in its store. It doesn't have a lot of older movies, except very famous ones--for example, you can rent An Affair to Remember, Dr. Strangelove, and Gone With the Wind for $2.99 each.

Streaming Quality

When you rent a movie from iTunes, the service downloads the movie to your computer, rather than streaming it. You have a window of 30 days after renting a download to watch it. Once you start watching the download, you have 24 hours of access to it.

Because you're not streaming from iTunes, video quality is excellent. In my iTunes tests, I rented the movie Bridesmaids and encountered no problems with the video. I rented the regular-quality version for $3.99, but if you have a Mac you can instead rent the HD version for $4.99 (HD is not available for PCs). The quality was what you'd expect from a DVD, without the danger of skipping or scratches.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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