Sunday, June 03, 2007

Rent Movies from a Vending Machine - a Review of Redbox

Do you want to rent a new release dvd movie for a dollar? Want a free DVD rental? This review will tell you how and in the process review a new DVD rental concept you may not heard of.

You likely rented movies from the traditional outlets like Blockbuster or Movie Gallery as well as online using and Now, for a dollar you can pick up a movie at a vending machine - much like a soda pop machine. A company called Redbox is taking the DVD rental concept to the next level and now renting movies for $1 each from vending machines. Redbox has recently been expanding in my town (Kansas City) so I decided to review the service.

What is Redbox? Redbox is a company focused on DVD Rental kiosks. Redbox began about four years ago as a vending machine company that sold sandwiches, milk, eggs and other items such as DVDs. That experiment didn't go so well, but the DVD kiosks were fairly popular. Since that time, Redbox has been taking the DVD rental concept and expanding rapidly within many cities in the U.S. Redbox is owned by McDonald's Corp. and Coinstar so you're likely to see a redbox kiosk in a McDonald's or grocery store near you.

How It Works:
The kiosk's touchscreen interface has three main categories to select from:
1. Rent - for renting "on-the-spot." Here you can scan through the movies available at this kiosk much like you would with a music jukebox.
2. Online Rental Pickup - if you reserved your movie at the online site and
3. Return a DVD - You select this when you are returning a DVD of course.

To rent a movie from redbox you simply swipe your credit card, select the movie you want to rent from those available, it tells you the movie you selected and the cost ($1 per movie plus sales tax - per night) and it dispenses your movie in a plastic redbox case. Your receipt is e-mailed to you if you have an online sign-on or if you input your e-mail address while renting.

To return a movie, you take your movie to any redbox kiosk (it doesn't have to be the same one you rented from) and select "return a DVD" from the touchscreen. It doesn't get any easier than that.

Another way rent a movie is to go to the online website, login and select your movie and pickup location from the website. Then go to the kiosk location you selected and pick up the "reserved" movie using the same credit card you used on the online website. The only advantage I see to ordering online is that you reserve your movie and avoid having it out-of-stock when you go to the rental kiosk.

Over the past several years, I've used and to keep up on the latest movies. While I own a great deal of movies, I use rentals to watch most new releases and others that I might not want to own, but would watch once. There are times - believe it or not, that I just don't need as many movies as I have access to at Netflix. Some months, there are just a couple of new releases I'm interested in, so Redbox might just be a good alternative for those times that would save me money over netflix.

What I liked about Redbox:

  • It's affordable - for $1 per movie including new releases, the price is very attractive compared to Blockbuster or the other movie rental shops.
  • It's easy - anyone with a credit card can do this. You don't have to have an internet connection or movie rental membership card to rent a movie
  • Return anywhere - You can return your movie at any redbox kiosk. Unlike a in-store rental like blockbuster, you can return your movie anywhere there is a redbox kiosk.
  • No hassle - you don't have to deal with the blockbuster salesclerks (sometimes helpful and sometimes annoying).
  • Instant gratification - it's way faster than online renting and also faster than in-store renting since you don't have to search for the movie, wait in line, check out etc. Compared to online rentals, there is no "long wait" or "very long wait". Your movie rentals will never be slowed down or "throttled" as they can be with Netflix for instance.
Disadvantages of Redbox and other kiosk DVD Rentals:
  • Much smaller selection - The kiosks typically carry around 80 - 100 different titles. Usually heavier on the newer releases. In-store has an advantage here and online (netflix and has a major advantage here if you are looking for an older or less popular title.
  • Not as hassle-free as online rentals - You still have to drive (or walk) somewhere to rent and return your movie. While a little more convenient than in-store, the online rentals are more convenient in the sense that you just have to walk to your mailbox to get and return your movie.
  • What if something goes wrong? If the vending machine is out of order or you are having trouble, there isn't anyone on location to help you. You can however call their customer service line at 1.866.REDBOX3 for assistance.
Free Movie Rental
If you want to try it out and get a free movie rental, you can go to and sign up for their newsletter. When you do this, they'll e-mail you a promo code for a free movie rental. I tried this out also and you just select "promo code" from the touchscreen and select your movie. To sign up go to

I don't see redbox replacing any time soon, but I do think it will continue to expand to neighborhood around the country and thrive. There's even a website dedicated to discussions about Redbox called "Inside Redbox". To see if you have a redbox kiosk near you, go to

For a video of how renting with redbox works you'll have to deal with Rachel Ray, but if you're willing and able, click on the video below:

RedBox Walkthrough

Other Movie Rental Posts:
Beat Netflix Throttle - get the movies you want on Netflix
Netflix Watch-Now Mini-Review
The Entire "the Office" TV show Second Season available on Netflix Watch-Now

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