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Which movie rental service works best?

February 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Long gone are the days when renting a movie meant having to go to a store. From Netflix to movies on demand, today's services offer convenience and flexibility. But which service works best?Two million Netflix movies arrive in mailboxes every day, including at the home of Peter Kaplan.

"After we're done, we return it. No late fees ever," said Kaplan.

Movie rental giant Blockbuster is advertising a similar online service called Total Access. With Total Access, you can also return movies at the store and exchange them for new ones at no extra charge.

To find out which is better, Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 6,000 people and asked them to weigh in on price, convenience, selection and service.

Redbox, a movie-rental kiosk service you see in stores like supermarkets, was also included in the survey. You use a credit or debit card to rent a movie for one dollar a night.

"With Redbox, the selection is mainly limited to popular, mainstream movies," said Donato Vaccaro from Consumer Reports. "But as far as convenience and price go, most respondents were very satisfied."

When it comes to selection, Consumer Reports' survey shows that both Netflix and Blockbuster Total Access shine, with thousands of movie titles to choose from. The Web sites both offer several different plans at different prices, but Blockbuster Total Access tends to be more expensive.

In the end, of all the rental options surveyed, Netflix came out on top for overall satisfaction.

"It couldn't be easier using Netflix," said Kaplan.