Ever since Spotify came up with a streaming music model that worked, we’ve been waiting for someone to do the same with movies. We’re still waiting, but until that day comes there are promising contenders: Blinkbox is among the best.
Of course, you can buy and rent movies on iTunes these days; the back catalogue is growing all the time. Blinkbox can’t compete with that just yet. The number of available movies is small in comparison, but there are still over 1,500 titles – including trailers and TV programmes – to choose from. Its real strength is that you can rent or buy a film or TV show then stream video immediately to your machine.
With Blinkbox, you either stream or download video to your browser. Unfortunately, Mac users can only stream, as the site uses Microsoft DRM and Windows Media. The FAQ states that this is an “industry-wide issue” – but we know better. If iTunes can do it, why can’t they?
According to the company's CEO Michael Comish: “We would love to offer downloads for the MAC. However, currently, there is only one DRM that is approved for the MAC – iTunes FairPlay. However, it is a proprietary Apple solution which they do not license to third parties. Please refer to Steve Jobs thoughts on this here.
"If there was a viable DRM platform available for MAC, we would use it. The best we can do is to offer our users a streamed solution and a digital locker. We’ll hold a copy your movie for you and you can stream it as many times as you like free of charge. And, you never have to wait for a download.”
Anyway – it’s the streaming service we’re interested in. It was smooth at full-screen on our relatively modest 8Mbps connection and similar in quality to BBC iPlayer. You can watch a rented title as many times as you like in a 24-hour period using Blinkbox’s built-in Flash-based player. Buy a title and it’ll appear in your profile forever, enabling you to watch it any time you like.
Apart from the streaming features then, what else is there to tempt you from iTunes? We think the pricing is more than reasonable. There are around 60 films available to rent for 99p a pop. Decent movies like Batman Begins and V for Vendetta are among the predictable pap. There’s even an ad-supported free section.
Blinkbox is a service to keep your eye on – perfect for a chilly winter evening when there’s nothing on the telly.