Ars Technica reviews Apple’s iTunes Movie Rentals: slick, friendly, and easy-to-use

“Apple introduced a new feature to its iTunes Store, iPod, and Apple TV ecosystem last week at Macworld ’08 that was a long time coming: movie rentals. Every major studio is on board for the debut, which starts with a 1,000 movie catalog (with 100 of those in HD [Apple TV only]) that is sure to expand if this early offering takes off as a success,” David Chartier reports for Ars Technica.

“The rentals work on the most recent iPods including the iPod classic, 3G iPod nano, iPod touch, and iPhone. And once the Apple TV ‘Take 2’ software update arrives in another week or so, iTunes Store movie rentals will also work on your living room TV. Now that I’ve had some time to play with this compelling new store feature, I have some thoughts on the pros and cons of renting popular films through the most popular digital download service on the ‘Net,” Chartier reports.

“Apple has answered the calls of consumers and critics with a slick, friendly movie rental section. After playing with it for a week, I’m still inclined to say that it’s off to a strong start. Though other services may have a superior catalogs (for now) or integration with other living room devices, none reach iTunes’ signature ease-of-use or integration with the world’s most popular digital media players,” Chartier reports.

“With a compelling refresh of the Apple TV on its way and a movie catalog that is sure to grow, Apple might finally have the features, hardware, and industry partnerships to bring digital video distribution into a lot more living rooms and pockets this year,” Chartier reports.

More in the full review here.

28 Comments

  1. I rented a movie last week and it was an awesome experience… actually kind of eerie, too. After decades of renting with physical media, watching a rental without anything physical at all was weird and cool all at once, like an actual miracle or something.

    By the way, if any of you are renting on your computer and using video out and audio out to get the pic to tv and sound to speakers, make sure you take a moment to calibrate the tv’s picture through System Preferences > Displays. It took all of 25 seconds and made a HUGE difference.

  2. i’d venture to say that thier catalog is going to grow by leaps and bounds extremely fast..

    now if they could shorten that 30 after DVD release i’d be loving it

    also, give me some way to play DVD’s through my apple tv and totally dump that extra piece of equipment…some kind of clean looking attachment to the apple tv (be it blue ray of normal dvd player)

  3. One thing I really like about netflicks is their queue — find a good movie, add it to my queue. Want to watch a movie, I always have movies in my queue.

    So far it doesn’t appear that that works in iTunes. I tried to add a rental to a wishlist/queue, but it doesn’t work (buyable moveis can be added to a wishlist/queue, but for some reason, not rentals). Am I missing something?

  4. I rented a movie last weekend for my kids. I connected my iBook to our LCD HDTV, let them choose the movie on iTunes, and began the download. I started the movie 30 seconds after I started to download it, and the movie played fantastically — without any glitches or hangups (we have 3mb/sec DSL).

    The video quality was decent, even on the 37″ screen. I suppose that some videophiles would not like artifacts due to compression, but for instant gratification at $4.99 or less, it is a great deal.

    I am very pleased with our test. It is much better than going down to Blockbuster, only to find that the movie you want to rent is not there, or waiting a day or two for your Netflix rental.

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