For smartphone users in the U.S. who have excellent eyesight, a yen for flicks and an incompatibility with (or dislike for) iTunes, the latest news from mSpot may excite you: You can now rent and watch full-length movies on your handsets, without hassling over software or syncing.
The service itself is pretty straightforward — mSpot streams movies right to the handset for $4.99 per flick, with rental periods from 24 hours to 5 days. The service, accessible at m.mspot.com, is compatible with 30 different models of smartphones and high-end devices, including the iPhone, Palm Pre, BlackBerry Tour and Storm, and it works on all four major carriers.
Though the selection is fairly limited (at just 300 titles at launch), the company hopes to flesh out its selection through existing deals with Paramount Studios, Universal Pictures, and the Weinstein Company. It’s currently in talks with other major studios as well.
The big caveat here — and I can’t stress this enough — is before you sign up for this, you (really) need to have an unlimited data plan. For some reason having to do with piracy restrictions, only the iPhone can use Wifi with mSpot. That means everyone else will be using their carrier networks for the data.
Is it worth spending 5 bucks to rent and watch a full movie on a little 3-inch screen? I don’t know about that one. I can see how it would be handy as a salve for parents with unruly kids. (Just hit up a G-rated show and plop the device in front of the kid, for a few minutes of uninterrupted silence at a restaurant.) Or maybe to kill time in the doctor’s waiting room. It could also be handy to get movies on the go during a long road trip or bus/train ride. Or…
Okay, I get it. This could be awesome, especially for those of us barred from the Adobe Flash party. (Maybe my iPhone is the only handset model that can use Wifi with mSpot, but that’s small comfort for not having Flash.) I may ditch this someday when I can actually access Hulu or Netflix on my phone (whenever that happens), but in the mean time, it’s nice having this alternative.