Tablets have been around for some time now and people are finally beginning to see some real world applications for the large, portable slabs. They are great for note taking, web browsing and in some cases, business solutions. But with a large, bright display, wireless connectivity and great battery life, one of the most notable and common uses for tabs is media consumption.
Companies like Google, Samsung and even Blockbuster have recognized this and tablets are beginning to come equipped with streaming media services out of the box. The TouchWiz UX update for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 brought both Google Movies to Android Market and Samsung's Media Hub. Unlike subscription services like Netflix or Hulu, which allow you to view an unlimited amount of TV shows and movies for a low monthly price, these pre-installed services are much like the offerings from cable or satellite companies. This of them as a mobile pay-per-view service.
This method of “renting,” however, is a blast from the past. With Google Movies, from the time of purchase, you have 30 days to begin watching your movie. From the time you start watching your movie, you have 24 hours to complete it – or watch it as many times as possible. These terms vary between movies, and the price is usually $3.99 per rental (I've seen older movies for $2.99 and HD movies for $4.99). Samsung's prices in Media Hub seem to be on par with Google's, but you do have the option to rent for 24 or 48 hours.
Originally, I was looking forward to seeing Google Movies and Media Hub in the update on my Galaxy Tab, but for three to five dollars per rental, I can't see myself ever using either service. Don't get me wrong, it's not a terrible deal. Having new releases at your fingertips (usually the day the movie hits retail shelves) is great and may become useful during an unexpected flight layover or something of the like. But with all of the different services out there (for much cheaper), Google's and Samsung's rentals are hardly the best day to day movie rental services. We live in the days of everything only being a click away, but personally, I would rather make the trek to the nearest Redbox (walking distance) or Blockbuster Express (also walking distance) to rent a couple movies for one dollar per day each.
I know these companies had to negotiate a deal with different movie studios and companies, but don't you think they could have brokered a better deal than four bucks for a 24 hour rental? Couldn't they at least make it two or three days of viewing? I appreciate the offer, Goog and Sammy, but I think I'll stick to picking up a Redbox movie on the way home or Netflix for now.
Do you think the prices of tablet movie rentals are absurd? Have you rented movies using one of these services? At what price would you actually use these movie rentals?