I've used EasyCinema for several years now, and remain very impressed. It's cheap, and it's pay-as-you-go, which means I don't have to worry about whether I'm watching enough films to make a monthly package sufficiently good value. Their database of films is huge (it's the same as that used by LoveFILM) so they almost always have the obscure film I want in stock. The web interface for selecting films is easy to use. I think that all films are the same price, regardless of popularity or recency. Occasionally I've had to reject a faulty disc, but the customer service has been prompt to send another. The discs always take a couple of days to arrive in the (second-class) post. Online film rentals don't have these particular problems, but then again, they are a little more expensive, and they don't tend to have quite as wide a range as EasyCinema has.
Most DVD rental plans come with a monthly fee - but what if you don't watch many films one month? What if you go on holiday? It can end up being a bit of a false economy if you don't make the most of your package every month.
Easycinema offers more flexible plan that I'd highly recommend to film fans looking to rent films without worrying about getting their monthly fill.
*Credits and payment*
You buy a set number of credits allowing you to have a certain number of films at a time. For me, the main attraction that your credits last 90 days.
There are currently three plans:
£7.96 for four credits and you can have one DVDs at a time.
£13.93 for seven credits and you can have two DVDs at a time.
£19.90 for ten credits and you can have three DVDs at a time.
So basically films cost you just under £2 each. A fantastic price.
You can either manually buy credits or set up an auto-top up system so that you buy more as soon as your current batch run out.
I've been using the ten credit package on and off for the last few years. If you decide you want a break you basically just don't buy any more credits. However your account remains on the system - including your list of films - so you can return to it at any point.
One very important thing to note is that you must return all of your films before the expiry date of your credits otherwise you'll be billed for another round of credits. I didn't send one film back before the expiry date and ended up getting billed nearly £20 for another batch of credits. Not the end of the world but I hadn't planned on taking out a new batch straight away.
Easycinema uses the Lovefilm DVD library so it's got a vast selection. There's everything from the latest blockbusters to world cinema, TV box sets, documentaries and childrens shows.
There's a search facility where you can search for film by name, category and year of release. There are also browsable lists such as In cinemas now, Nominees for the British Academy Television Awards and Top Rated.
There are also Blu-ray versions of many films and HD DVDs available.
*Choosing your DVDs*
You add films currently available to your rent list and you can reserve films that aren't out yet to your list too - so that they get added to your list as soon as they're available.
You can visit the 'My Selection' section to see the films you've picked. You can see what you've been sent and what's in your queue. To help you get the films you're most keen to see quickly, you rate each movie one, two or three - with priority one films being the ones you want sent as soon as possible. You can reorder this list and remove items whenever you like.
*Rate and recommend*
You're also encouraged to award the films you've rented in the past a mark out of 5. Lots of people do this so so the ratings can be a good guide when browsing titles you're not familiar with.
*Delivery and return*
The DVDs come in a bright orange paper envelope and delivery time is very quick. The DVDs you return are usually processed the day they are received. If you are sent a DVD which is faulty in any way you mark it on the envelope when you send it back and you can ask to be sent another copy or have an extra credit instead.
*Perfect for film fans*
All in all I'd highly recommend the Easycinema service - it's well priced, efficient and easy to use. My only gripe is that there's no gift voucher currently available - which is a real same as this is service is something I'd like to share!
easyCinema, from the same stable as easyJet & easyBus etc, is an online DVD rental company.
I've been using it for two or three years now, & I'm thoroughly impressed.
The way it works is you pay up front for a block of 4, 7 or 10 films at a time, & all the films - even new ones - are an impressive £1.99 each. I always use the package whereby I pay £13.93 in advance for seven films, which are sent out two at a time.
Then you compile a list of all the films you're interested in seeing, & you can prioritise them if you like. There's a vast selection to chose from, with films old & new , British & foreign, even documentary DVDs & TV series. I've always found whatever I've been looking for.
Then easyCinema send out the films - two at a time for me - & when you've watched them you tear your address off the envelope & send them back - prepaid. When easyCinema receive the films they send out two more & so it continues until your credit runs out. Then you get a reminder email, you buy more credits & off you go again. I usually receive my new films a week or less from the day I've posted the old ones back.
You can keep the films for ages with no pressure: the credits you buy last for ninety days so with my package I've got ninety days to watch seven films, which I've always managed easily without feeling I need to force myself to keep up.
I've nearly always been sent the films I've prioritised, & there's never been a mistake with what I've received or my account.
I was sent a rather old music DVD recently that didn't play properly so I sent a brief email & returned the disc, & was promptly sent my next choice free of charge with no quibbling.
I really like the freedom this system gives me: I used to rent DVDs from the library, but now I don't have the inconvenience of making a special journey there & getting the films back on time or paying a fine. Occasionally I'll get sent a film that I'm not actually in the mood for & it'll sit there for a while, but this happens rarely & the enormous convenience of posting films backwards & forwards more that makes up for the unpredictability.
As Ive said previously, Ive got quite a sizeable DVD collection in its own right, but theres always the other kind of DVD; maybe a movie that you missed when it was on the telly or you failed to programme your VCR that you still have a hankering to see, either for the first time or again. The likes of Blockbuster can be a bit pricey in relation to your thirst for seeing the film in question, especially if you dont mind when you get to see it.
This is where a postal rental system like easyCinema.com is useful.
a) Theyve got 52,000 titles spread across all genres and
b) Theyre quite cheap at £1.99 a go, and heres the clincher;
c) You dont have to return disks within any specific timescale, so no penalty payments for overdue DVDs they cant be overdue.
Sounds too good to be true?
Well, it isnt, its all true, but of course theres a downside
If someone else can keep a disk as long as they like, then its reasonable to expect that easyCinema cant be too specific about when youll get to see it either!
Unlike Blockbuster, with its grandiose claims to give you a free rental next time if something you request isnt available, easyCinema feels a lot more shoestring budget than that. Being a Stelios company, the man with an unfeasibly large job-lot of orange paint, rather confirms that.
For a start, as Ive already indicated, you have to wait your turn for what seems like the one copy of a movie that they possess. Of course, they must have more than one copy (I hope) just not as many as Blockbuster claims!
Secondly, the state of some of the disks Ive been sent rather suggests that, like me, maybe they too buy Blockbuster ex-rental disks. One was so badly scratched with circular whirls - the worst kind on a digital disk - that it was almost unplayable. It perked up a bit on cleaning (yes, is it me, or should THEY do that?) Even so, it still wouldnt get past the menu without locking up my DVD player. OK, easyCinema have a returns policy, but its a hassle leaving you with an indeterminate period before you get another chance to see the said movie if it turns out to be their only copy, what then?.
Not one to be easily beaten by this, I managed to create myself a movie-only DVD-RW version, bypassing the offending menu.
Why a DVD-RW? Coz Oi be a good boy, Oi be. That means I can erase it once Ive seen it, just to keep it all legal and above board.
OK, I realise that this isnt the sort of thing that your average movie-viewer would know how to do, but I didnt get to where I am today without being a total nerd.
There are three separate tariffs, all with differing amounts of credit, and all offering differing numbers of simultaneous rentals. For example, if you pay £19.90 in advance, you get 10 credits and the ability to hold 3 disks at any one time. For £13.93, you get 7 credits plus the ability to hold 2 disks at once, and for £7.96, you get 4 credits, but are only allowed to rent one after the other. Commendably, the rate is £1.99 in all three tariffs its just the numbers youre allowed to rent at any one time that differ.
You are also free to alter tariffs.
I started with the full monty at £19.90, and this suited my initial enthusiasm for ordering everything my wife and I could come up with. Since this included a 6-disk boxed set of the HBO series Carnivale, the credit soon started to dwindle, and I was starting to find their delivery of three at a time a bit onerous. Serial DVDs are, by the way, delivered in the right order.
You can state your delivery preferences in three priority settings
a) I would like these titles delivered as soon as possible
b) Please deliver these titles as they become available and
c) I don't mind when you send out these titles.
The default setting, not surprisingly is b), and there seems little need to deviate from this. Choosing a) still wont ensure that you get a disk by a certain date.
Choosing c) seems to be a recipe for waiting ages, but of course if you like surprises ..
When it comes to new releases, or forthcoming ones, you can also stake your claim to a place in the queue for these although it remains to be seen how quickly you can expect to get them afterwards, with the world and his wife trying to get to see it without paying Blockbuster prices.
Now that my initial rush has died down, my next credit top-up will probably be the '4credits/one at a time' option to slow the flow down. Besides which, Im not lending Stelios quite so much money to buy more orange paint.
You receive an e-mail to confirm that at disk or disks is/are on the way to you.
They arrive in separate dedicated orange (what else?) envelopes with a slim-line hard plastic shell if youre lucky. If youre not, itll be a tatty paper sleeve. I get the impression that these are being phased out, and they seem more prevalent when they bear the Lovefilm logo this seems to be the backroom engine that drives easyCinema, and the return address is further evidence.
Once youve seen your movie, youre free to send it back as and when you like, and the envelope has some clever little tear-off bits that transform it into the return version and theres nothing to lick either.
The return has prepaid postage, so £1.99 really is what you pay.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE WEBSITE
As well as tracking your current selection and progress of new releases into the mainstream list, your own account page at www.easycinema.com helps you to keep track of what youve got out and whats been received back.
Annoyingly, this latter list isnt so much a thank you for returning them, but more a nag that you havent written reviews of any of these movies. Stelio, you avin a laugh, innit matey peeps!
Besides which, wheres the promise of payments for good uns? I can think of somewhere a bit more useful to post them, cant you?
To be fair, to stop the site nagging you, you only have to give the movie a star rating.
I did find to my annoyance though, after reading what I thought was a review for Peter Greenaways Drowning By Numbers (a film Id added to my wish list of disks not yet available) that another user had been waiting a year for this one to appear on the database to no avail in fact it had been the driving force to his signing up. Still, now there are two of us, maybe theyll go out and buy it!
So there we have it reasonably-priced DVD rental with a slick system of returns. The web site is informative, if a little annoying both in its orangeness and in the way it lets you think something is available when if clearly isnt and might never be in the case of Drowning By Numbers.
If you want to watch the latest releases this Saturday, forget it thats not what its for.
A man walks into Blockbuster and says Can I have Superman Two? to which the assistant replies, Why, what else did you ask for?
Another man walks into Blockbuster and says Id like to rent Batman Forever, to which comes the riposte, Well you cant bring it back on Monday like everyone else
Of course, with easyCinema, you nearly CAN rent Batman forever!