|Posted on April 6, 2013 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
Redbox has recently opened up its Beta service to the public, so it's time for Streaming 411 to review this service!
Let's start out by talking about cost. If you are already a regular Redbox Kiosk DVD renter, then paying for the basic subscription will score you four DVD rentals a month, plus unlimited streaming. Add $1 for blu-rays. You can also remove the DVD credits (streaming only) which we do not recommend until they build their library up some. Their DVD library, however, has just about any title you can think of. Additionally, you can add more DVD rentals above and beyond the 4 per month to your account at $1.20 per rental.
Basic Subscription: $8 per month (unlimited streaming + 4 DVD rentals per month)
Add Blu-rays: $9 per month
Streaming Only: $6 per month
What about parental controls? Well, in a word - AWESOME. As you can see in the image below, they allow you to select programming suitable for young children only, elementary age kids, teens, or adults. They can also be set per device. So - if your child streams on the family computer, but you stream on your mobile device, you can set the parental controls accordingly. Additionally, when renting DVDs, you are required to validate your age which means that children under the age of 17 will not be able to get ahold of R-rated movies.
What devices can you stream on? Well, currently the number of devices is fairly limited, but when you see what they are targeting, you get the feeling that they are serious about expanding their reach. Remember, they are in Beta. As they expand their subscription numbers, you will subsequently see them expand the number of devices. Besides Windows or Mac operating systems, Redbox is available on Android and on iOS, Xbox 360 gaming consoles, plus Samsung blu-ray and home theatre systems, and Smart TVs (2011 and later models). You can even find out if your TV is supported here.
What about renting at kiosks? If you're a fan of their kiosk rental, you don't need to be sold on the great low price and convenience. For $1.20 a night, you can rent virtually any title of movie or game you can think of. You can also get promo codes (make sure you check on our home or comparison pages on this site for current promo codes) to save on rentals.
When you rent at the kiosk, it will be due by 9 p.m. the day after you rent, otherwise applicable charges apply. For every 24 hours thereafter that you keep the DVD, you'll pay the daily fee of $1.20 plus any applicable taxes. You'll also be informed of a maximum rental period while at the kiosk. Just make sure you return your DVD promptly, or you can be charged a hefty fine (upwards of $24 for DVDs). The maximum rental period varies by kiosks (let's face it - some areas are going to be more popular than others, such as when there are not a lot of entertainment options available).. The Redbox website states that in most cases, the maximum rental period for a movie is 20 days, and a video game 30 days. Just make sure you understand the terms AT THE KIOSK.
To learn how to search for titles, check out this article.
Bottom line it . . .the Redbox service cannot stand on it's own yet for streaming. But their business model is brilliant - tap into those individuals who currently take advantage of the kiosks and provide opportunities to stream on their mobile devices, as well as continue renting DVDs. The 4 DVD credit sweetens the pot. Streaming 411 looks forward to seeing their library expanding over time. Remember, Netflix wasn't built in a day either, and it thrived for several years prior to streaming through the DVD by mail rental service.
|Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:10 PM||comments (0)|
If you aren't an industry expert, the term "over-the-top" streaming might be a new one for you. Over-the-top, or OTT, refers to any content that can be delivered through an internet connection by a third party that has rights to the content. OTT streaming can be offered through cable or IPTV operators, or can be purchased directly from a streaming provider in the form of a monthly subscription for unlimited access to their entire library, or rental of a single title, or purchase of a single title. OTT content can be streamed through any internet-enabled device, including PC's, laptops, internet-enabled television sets, set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV or Boxee, tablets, gaming consoles and smartphones.
In the strictest sense, the term over-the-top is referring to video being viewed on your tv set that is connected to the internet. Before televisions could be purchased internet-enabled, a set-top box that connected to your router or wifi connection (think Roku) was required. But the term has morphed into a catch-all phrase for the distribution of video through various 3rd parties, even if it is accessed on something other than your television.
The digital media is processed as a continuous stream of data that utilizes video and audio technology.
Other terms related to streaming (in layman's terms) include:
Check out our article on streaming vs. downloading for a great read that incorporates many of the terms above.
|Posted on March 9, 2013 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
Wondering why so many people are gung ho for Redbox? It's very simple - it's the lowest cost alternative to rent a movie or game in the industry.
The Redbox site allows you to either browse their library in a number of ways, including by genre, popular titles or new release. Once you find a movie or game that strikes your fancy, you reserve it for rental. Next - you need to select a Redbox kiosk that is near you by entering your zip code. In most cases a sizable list of options will pop up providing you with various venues from which you can reserve your DVD. You'll want to note whether the kiosk is indoors or outdoors if you are planning on picking it up when the business is closed.
Redbox also works with event owners to provide tickets (and the ability to receive email updates) to events. You'll pay a $1 fee + the ticket price and tax for the convenience of doing business through Redbox Tickets.
Redbox is venturing out into streaming at $8 per month, but it is still in private Beta version. Your subscription will score you unlimited streaming from the titles available in their library, plus four DVD rentals through their kiosk program per month. If you already rent 4 videos per month through Redbox, it makes absolute sense to pay the $8 per month while they continue to build their streaming library. While current device options are limited, there are apps for iOS, Android and XBox 360.
|Posted on March 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
David Bowie was a prominent musical presence in my youth and young adulthood. Great tunes like Under Pressure collaborated with rock royalty Queen, Modern Love, Changes and Fame have earned Bowie and his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust the worldwide fame over the decades. If you have an Apple ID, you can click on the image below to stream it.
Bowie's at it again with his first album in more than a decade - The Next Day - will be released on March 12. But lucky fans like myself can stream the entire for free during a limited pre-release period at the iTunes Store. I'm listening it to it right now as I type this out, and I'm enjoying it immensely. Bowie has such "eclectic" range in terms of the type of music he puts out, from ominous, soul-searching and haunting like The Stars, Love is Lost, Valentine's Day and Where Are We Now to feel-good grooves like Dancing Out in Space and I'd Rather Be High..
The album is available for pre-order at $13.99, or you can purchase the single Where Are We Now for $1.29, which was released in early January on Bowie's birthday.
To stream the album for free, you'll need to follow these directions. If you already have an iTunes account, you can skip the signup portion of the instructions.
|Posted on February 20, 2013 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
If you are a sitcom fanatic or a sports officiando who lives for your daily dose of entertainment, you might not want to cut the cord just yet. But living cable subscription free can be an alternative for many of us who are willing to find those free (and legitimate) sources online. Why legitimate? Make sure you check out our article on piracy to find out why free isn't always the best choice.
However, there are a plethora of free streaming options if you don't want to pay upwards of $60 per month for television. In fact, with a Netflix or Hulu subscription coupled with these great free sources listed below can provide a decent selection of small screen entertainment for anyone looking to trim their cable budget.
Hulu.com is still a great free option to catch new releases of your favorite TV shows. Missed the last episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live? You can access the last four episodes for free before they move the content over to Hulu Plus. Below are just a handful of dozens of networks available to access the latest content. Click on the image below to see all of your free network choices. Of course, if you want to watch older episodes, or even an entire library, then a Netflix or Hulu subscription is a nice complement.
Hulu.com is also a great resource for nationwide network news like ABC's Nightline or Good Morning America, but it is definitely not your only option. The major networks all offer free news streaming, including:
You may even be able to find some local news. For example, I live in Chicago, and was able to stream my local news via ABC 7 News for free as long as you tune in during the news cast. They do not provide previously-recorded footage, however. . So you are bound by their schedule, and you don't have the convenience of recording the newscast on your DVR and watching it later.
Free Sports - Well, You Can't Beat 'Em All
This genre is quite a bit more difficult to get for free. You can get an occasional freebie like the Superbowl or on Thanksgiving Day, but in general, you're going to have to ante up by purchasing premium cable or satellite television plans. You can watch live sports via ESPN, BUT you can only get access IF you can prove you are a cable or satellite television subscriber already. So no freebies there. But if you need your sports fix and don't want to pay upwards of $60 a month, all of the major sports leagues offer subscription options to stream live games through your computer, mobile devices, or even Roku or Apple TV. Monthly and annual subscription options include:
A combination of the free and subscription options above will give a decent selection of entertainment options that can facilitate would-be cord cutters into making it a reality. But there are some important cord-cutting considerations that may need to be addressed first:
So there you have it. If you guys have any great suggestions, please drop them into the comments below!
|Posted on February 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
When I am feeling angry, or overwhelmed, or just wanting to get a nice dose of feel-good, an intense body pump workout, a sweaty hour of step aerobics, or a soothing bout of yoga have been my go-to activities for several decades. Having been an exercise enthusiast for many years, I have collected a nice library of aerobic, weight training, and yoga workouts that enable me to scratch the itch in any way that appeals to me that moment.
I recently purchased a couple of yoga tapes to help target some specific ailments I had. Specifically, I threw out my back doing deadlifts with poor form, and I have suffered for years with stiff and sore shoulders from being hunched over my beloved computer for hours a day. I hopped on Amazon.com to purchase the tapes, and a moment later I received word through email that I could instantly stream these workouts, rather than wait for the DVD's to arrive in the mail!
There are a number of videos that you can purchase (and for a discount if you are a Prime member) and stream instantly, and even a few titles that you can rent for 24 hours, including:
The website Yoga Today has several ways to get your yoga fix. A no-obligation monthly subscription of $9.99 a month gets you full access to their entire library, unlimited class streaming, and $2.99 downloads. If you prepay a one year membership for $89.95 you save $25%. They even offer a free weekly yoga class with downloads for $3.99.
Gaiam TV offers a free 10-day trial, and a monthly subscription of $9.95 a month, where you can stream their entire library. They are famous for The FIRM videos and also carry names like Jillian Michaels and Leslie Sansone.
Streamfit targets men with unlimited streaming for $4.99 the first month, and $19.95 a month thereafter. Purchase an entire year for $120 and save over $100. Popular videos on their site include:
Looking for more free options? You can stream 2 to 10 minute "clips" of Exercise TV instantly, targeting abs, legs, arms, or shoulders on Hulu.com to cobble together your own fitness routine for the cost of an internet subscription and screen to play the workout on.
If you opt to subscribe to Hulu Plus, you have access to shows like Yoga Zone, Yoga for Everyone, Yoga with a View, and Maya Fiennes Kundalini Yoga. If you want something a bit more strenuous, check out Get Fit, Stay Fit, Celebrity Fitness, or The Firm.
Other great online gems: Workoutz.com, Physical Fitnet, and even YouTube. If you have a nice, wide computer screen (or you have pc to TV streaming) these free fitness websites can be a great resource.
Check out our streaming services comparison for a snapshot of available options.
|Posted on January 17, 2013 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
How can you tell that a business model has gone from being the "goose that lays the golden egg" to a serious liability? This particular issue couldn't be more evident ever since streaming exploded on the scene. Hollywood is convinced that streaming will be the death of their profits - just like they thought physical copies of their content would seriously harm their profits when VHS came of age back in the day.
So why is it so hard to (legally) stream new releases? Hollywood is creating scarcity, which is an economic concept that means they are controlling who gets access to their content in order to drive up the profits. But some people are of the opinion that entertainment companies are giving themselves a nasty black eye, and they have also made piracy a multi-million dollar business.
Scarcity is created by restricting the flow of content. It looks something like this:
Lessons from the Prohibition Era
Perhaps pre-World War II history in the United States should be studied far more in-depth than the skimpy chapter we get in our history books in 8th grade. There is a wealth of information from that era that can be applied to a number of scenarios. For instance, prohibition birthed a whole new type of illegal activity centered around gangsters whose mission included getting alcohol into the hands of the masses to make a huge profit. Once prohibition was no longer the law of the land, the "Capone era" died out with it.
Now we can enjoy an alcoholic beverage in a number of venues. The cheapest place to have a drink is at home, but that doesn't discourage us from going out to clubs, lounges or restaurants for an evening out. In bullish economic times, we tend to go out a lot more, but during economic downturns like we've been experiencing that last several years, you might see some of these businesses closing down because we are forced to have a beer in the backyard to save money.
The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same
So let's apply this application to the movie industry. I've taken my kids to probably 4 movies at the local theater in the last five years, and while there I swear it was like a ghost town. On the other hand, when I was a young adult during the 1980's, the theaters would generally be at a minimum ¾ full during a matinee, and "sold out" when a hot new film was released (and I won't even comment on how films seemed much more substantive and entertaining than they seem to be today). During the 1970's & early 1980's, Hollywood was terrified that VHS technology would cannibalize their profits. They eventually discovered, however, that it actually created an additional revenue source when people started building their video collections.
Hollywood now relies on to DVD sales to generate revenue. Trouble is, digital bootleggers have cropped up just like in Prohibition times to get movies and television shows into the hands of the masses through movie download sites. The contraband is smuggled over the internet utilizing peer to peer file sharing.
We as a family are purchasing far fewer DVDS and digital movies, and are not doing the download thing (except for a few "legitimate" sites, the chance for picking up a computer virus or Trojan just isn't worth it). We also opt to watch older content on Netflix and Hulu Plus. Tough economic times call for people to tighten their belts.
Hollywood + Google = Profits
Robert Simpson at the Huffington Post encouraged Hollywood to stop pointing the finger at Google, opting instead to build a partnership with the internet giant to provide an alternative service where movies are released at the same time as the cinema release. They could charge a premium for people to stream the new releases at home - e.g. higher than what is charged at venues like Amazon Instant Video, Vudu or iTunes after the release. They would probably create a brand new market for people like me who rarely go to the cinema because I have a large family.
While they're at it, how about if they make the content available to the international community. Other countries are sorely lacking in their ability to stream coveted content. Ridiculously restrictive licensing agreements have potential consumers in other countries scratching their heads, while often jumping through hoops trying to circumvent laws that companies like Netflix are bound to, trying to look like they are from the United States by obtaining a U.S. IP address.
Consumers will always continue going to movie theaters. You simply cannot recreate the experience at home . . . from the smell of popcorn permeating the atmosphere, to the multi-story big screen, to the booming stereo surround sound. Hollywood should take heed and stop hanging on to their business model with a maniacal death grip and learn valuable lessons from prohibition, as well as their own history 30+ years ago when they had to learn to embrace the VHS tape. Streaming movies can become an opportunity for them if they get creative.
|Posted on January 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
When you begin to investigate the various options available for media streaming, it can get overwhelming. For starters, there are both paid and free services, and there are live feeds and on-demand offerings which can be viewed anytime. Either paid or free services can include online live radio and news events, movies, television shows, documentaries,video-sharing, music downloads and news replays from all over the world. To complicate matters more, paid services can be monthly subscriptions, rentals or purchases a la carte.
The purpose of this article is to specifically address the differences between live streaming and on-demand. Understanding on-demand first will give you abetter appreciation for live stream technology.
Think of a video stream file as just like a film strip,except it is a digital file rather than a physical strip imprinted with pictures and sound. The images and sound are placed in a specific order within the digital file, and then saved in a compressed form. When the end user downloads the compressed file, they can immediately play the movie or TV show on whatever supported device you have. This cuts down on a lot of cost, as you don't need a physical film strip(or CD or VHS tape) that needs packaging and shipping. Rather, the packaging is in a cost-effective compressed file, and the shipping method is instantaneous over the internet. You will need some type of streaming player, whether it is a media player you downloaded, a supported device like a game console, specialized streaming player or a blu-ray player, or mobile device.
On-demand is as the name implies. Once you download the file, you can watch it whenever you want. Live stream technology, then, is streamable live, or as it is happening. In other words, you do not have to wait for a compressed file to download. You simply need to find the website where the event is being streamed (whether a free site or a pay-per-view event), and watch the event through your media player as itis actually happening. Think of major sporting events, televised trials, televised government events, or the royal wedding as opportunities for live streaming. Other examples of live (audio) streaming include radio stations.
The trouble with some live streaming or video sharing is you can experience buffering issues, where the stream hangs up, and you can have trouble listening to or watching your content because of jerky stops and starts. Buffering is actually a good thing in some cases, as it takes into consideration the various internet download speeds we all experience at various times, whether peak usage times or not. Buffering helps compensate for these variations. To avoid buffering, a minimum download speed of 3.0 Mbps is encouraged.
Read more about streaming vs. downloading and other great articles on our site.
|Posted on January 7, 2013 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
LAS VEGAS - January 7, 2013 via Business Wire
Time Warner Cable announced today that subscribers of their cable television service will no longer require a cable set-top box as long as they have a Roku device. They will be launching their new TWC TV app through Roku's channel options. This app is currently available for Apple iPad and iPhone, where subscribers can access Time Warner's video-on-demand library.
Roku users will not be able to watch VOD content, but will be able to access 300 cable networks available through their monthly television subscription service. Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt says "If somebody wants to use the interface that comes with one device or another, that's fine. We're going to continue to have ours. If there's a better one - as long as they [subscribers] buy video from us - I don't care."
Roku CEO Anthony Wood says "The availability of a service like TWC TV on an open platform represents significant milestones for both Time Warner Cable and Roku as well as for the industry overall. More importantly, with TWC TV, customers will have more choice in entertainment than was ever possible before.
A partnership with Roku could also be a serious savings for Time Warner Cable, who will not have to deploy and maintain the cable set-top boxes in their subscribers' homes. In fact, Britt and other executives are predicting that these set-top boxes will eventually become extinct as connected television and streaming devices continue to take hold in the marketplace.
|Posted on December 1, 2012 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
Verizon has been the target of several rumors in the last 18 months, including confirmed talks with Hulu for a possible acquisition (which didn't develop). After they initiated a price increase on their DVD rentals back in October 2011, speculation was that Redbox was looking to get into the streaming business and the price increase would help toward that end. The Redbox/Verizon rumor actually turned into a reality as the two companies decided to launch their own online streaming service, which was announced back in February of this year, with a target launch for the end of 2012.
There is more than enough competition in the streaming arena, and earlier this year Redbox Instant was said to be moving toward a limited content model. This "curated approach" according to CEO Paul Davis will include a much smaller offering, and apparently will be offered at a smaller monthly subscription rate as rumors about that Redbox Instant will debut starting at $6 per month.
Many other sources are weighing in that Redbox Instant will likely be the Netflix slayer . . . but really? If Redbox moves forward with their limited offering model, how long will it be before people will think that Netflix really wasn''t so bad after all? Their library is still undeniably the largest in the industry. Granted, no monthly subscription library can boast new or extremely popular releases unless you are willing to purchase or (rent depending on the title and the wishes of the copyright holder).
Also the rumors about the Redbox Instant service allege that the service will be offered on a limited number of devices; Netflix is the hands down winner when it comes to being able to view the content virtually anywhere.
What does differentiate Redbox's business model from the other monthly subscription streaming libraries is the possibility of a mixed membership option which will include credits for renting DVD's at their kiosks which can be found at supermarkets, gas stations, convenience stores and other venues. Most city and suburban dwellers dfon't need to travel far to get to a Redbox kiosk. That option just might make the streaming service fly (and develop over time as Redbox goes through the motions of developing partnerships with copyright holders on the most coveted content). Then Redbox might be more of a major competitor to Amazon Prime rather than Netflix, because through Prime renting a movie and streaming it is costlier than renting it from a kiosk.
It all depends on how thrifty consumers get, which boils down to the economy. And despite the economic tribulations we've endured the last five years, consumers are divided between pinching pennies and opting for convenience.
But despite my cautions about touting Redbox as the next Netflix slayer (of which several other companies have held the title for short-lived amounts of time), Redbox has turned Blockbuster's world upside-down. Could they have another trick like that up their sleeves?