Remember the good old days of movie rentals? You’d ask your mum or dad to drive you over to the retail park, peruse the aisles for what seemed like hours until you found what you were (sort of) looking for. You’d get the tape home and sit through the ubiquitous advertisements warning you not to make a copy of the tape because “Piracy is Theft”, and then you’d sit through the trailers for other movies that were about to be brought out. Finally the time to watch the movie has arrived but... oh no, the guy who borrowed it before you decided to watch and rewatch his favourite scene 100 times and now it’s all blurry and the tape’s jammed, and all that black stuff’s tangled around the mechanism. Quick, fetch the pencil, we need to unwind! Ah, memories. Well, no more!
The New Era of Movie Download Websites
Now you can simply visit a website, type in the name of a movie and start watching it in a matter of seconds. There are no late fees, the quality is always high and you can sit on your own sofa eating as many sweeties as you like! Movie downloading and streaming is now big business. It essentially brings a huge array of entertainment into your home whenever you want it. Not only does this save time and effort but it also saves you money. There’s a lot of competition out there though, so how are you to know which movie downloads website is the one for you? Well worry not, we’ve been hard at work checking out the best of them on your behalf. Whether you’re looking for the latest Hollywood blockbuster, a kung-fu flick from the Far East or a Bollywood musical, we’ve got you covered. But there are a few things you ought to consider before parting with any of your hard earned cash, so take a gander...
Number of movies available
You’ll soon find that some of the sites we’ve looked at are experts in one kind of movie or specifically focus on films from a certain part of the world. On the whole these sites don’t offer the best variety of movies in comparison with some of their peers. However you’ll also discover that some websites focus almost entirely on the most recent movies from Hollywood. If you’re looking for a balance of art house and action thriller, you may wish to consider how many films are available from each service. Although we’ve focused on movies, there are a number of sites we’ve reviewed that also offer television shows and services. If you’re looking to expand your entertainment horizons then look out for a website with a decent score for the number of movies that are available.
It must be said that the vast majority of the websites we’ve reviewed in this category offer a high quality product. The real differences come down to a few basic factors. Those that have scored low marks for their audio-visual quality fall below par and you may encounter shows or films that seem dated or poorly shot. An average score usually indicates that the quality is very good, but that it could be better, whereas a high score is provided to services which offer a substantial number of their movies in high definition (HD). If you’re a real film fan and have all the latest and greatest equipment such as a large HDTV and surround sound then you may wish to look for a website that offers superior audio-visual quality. You may also wish to consider the price difference (if there is one) between SD (standard definition) and HD.
This term basically means “how easy is it to find what you want?” but it also expands to how well you can filter your search results and the sorts of recommendations the service offers. The highest scoring websites will allow you to search by title, actor, director, genre and keywords, whilst also offering up movie recommendations based on similar films to those you enjoy. This is all less important if you simply want to find a single movie to rent but if you’re hoping to watch a lot of movies over time then you may prefer a system which learns your movie preferences and informs you about films that suit you.
Compatibility across devices
So many people now have an iPad, a desktop computer, a sophisticated android phone and more. Many movie download and streaming sites realise this so they make their content available on a range of devices. If you’re hoping to watch a movie on your iPad whilst on the train, or just on your TV when lounging on the sofa then you may wish to consider how versatile a particular system is. Can you play movies on multiple devices? Can you synchronise viewing between them, starting on your laptop and then continuing to watch the film on your TV later on? Consider how you might view a movie and where you might need to access your account. Does the service you’re interested in support the technology you wish to use?
Becoming a member on a movie downloads website can bring benefits with it. This can range from exclusive content (such as behind the scenes footage or interviews with actors and directors), to interactive games, news articles or pre-release content. You may also discover that certain sites offer discounts throughout the year for their members, or free cinema tickets, perhaps even free delivery when you purchase a Blu-ray or DVD. These are little extras but they can make all the difference between a “good” site and a “great” one.
Streaming and downloading
The key difference here is how you “get” the movie. Downloading a movie means that it now exists on your computer or device. More often than not this is because you have bought the movie and can watch it as often as you like. In comparison, most sites will offer streaming options. This means that you watch a movie which remains stored online. There are advantages to either system: streaming won’t use up your computer’s hard disc space and you can access the movies anywhere with an internet connection that allows you to log into your account. Once a movie has been downloaded, however, you will not need an internet connection to watch it. If you’re on the move a lot and don’t think you’ll have an internet connection but want to watch a movie then you may decide that downloading is a better option. Otherwise streaming is perfectly adequate.
Value for money
So that you can best compare prices we’ve considered the cost of the same movie from each service provider (assuming they had that movie). We also discuss their pricing structures in relation to their peers to give a good idea as to whether they offer good value for money or not. You may find that some services only rent movies, whilst others allow you to purchase them. Obviously prices will vary for each, so it’s a good idea to check what these differences might be. Meanwhile subscription sites might allow you to watch as much content as you like, offering excellent value for money to anyone who watches a lot of movies and TV shows. Have a think about what you can afford and what you’re hoping to get (is it a single movie or a yearlong contract?) as this will help you to decide which website you ought to go for.
The Bottom Line
That’s about all we have to say for now. There’s a whole world of movies out there waiting for you, and not a jammed VCR or pencil in sight!