While in the process of upgrading my home entertainment center, I’ve purchased a new high definition LCD TV along with a planned Blu-ray player. Next, I’ll need access to some high definition movies! As the type of person who enjoys watching a movie once, renting rather than buying movies is my preferred choice. The downside is that going to the video store to pick out a movie can be a hassle if the store is busy. Not only that, some video stores charge late fees which I’m not a fan of.

Seeing the limitations of brick and mortar video stores, I started doing some research on the online video rental stores. How do these stores work? They are basically the same idea as a regular video store, except that you place your order online and they mail you the DVD’s that you request. Once you receive and watch the DVD’s, you can return them in the provided postage paid envelopes whenever you please, so no late fees. Of course, you want to return them as soon as possible as they don’t ship the next requested item until the original batch is returned. Also, in order to get the best “bang for your buck”, the physical store location should be fairly close to your home to reduce shipping times as most of these online video stores charge a flat monthly fee.

Here are the Advantages:

  • No late fees
  • Never have to leave the house (except when going to the mailbox)
  • Potentially lower cost / movie rental

Disadvantages:

  • Depends on the mail system to get your movies, could be delayed or even lost.
  • I’ve read complaints that it can be difficult to get the movies that you want, like the latest release. Whereas big box video stores have guarantees on the latest block busters.

To me, it looks like the online video rental pros outweigh the cons. Below is what I came up within the Canadian market place as a good place to start. For the sake of simplicity, I only included the price plans for unlimited rentals / month.

Store Cost/mo # DVD’s at a time Location Selection Blu- ray? Free Trial?
Zip.ca $10.95/ $24.95 1/3 Ottawa 72k Yes Yes
CINEMail.ca $23.98 /$27.98/ $39.98 3/4/ 6 Winnipeg 25k No Yes
Canflix $21.95 / $24.95/ $29.95/ $36.95 3/4/ 5/ 6 Calgary 11k Yes Yes
Premieres $9.98/ $16.98/ $19.98/ $24.98/ $35.98 1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6 Kitchener 4k+ No Yes
DVDFlix.ca $19.99/ $29.99 3/5 Vancouver 8k+ No Yes
DVDHype $25.00 3 Montreal 10k+ No Yes
Cyberflix $9.99/ $15.99/ $18.99 1/2/3 Kitchener 4k+ No Yes

As an East Coaster along with my requirement for Blu-ray movies, it seems that Zip.ca is my best choice. I’m going to give the 2 week free trial a whirl and see how it works out!

If you have some experience with these stores, I would love to hear your opinion on them.

For our American readers, here is a review of Blockbuster vs. Netflix
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