I'm beta testing two different online services in the next few weeks - the Redbox Instant streaming service and the Viki Roku channel.
While Redbox does not have a Roku channel yet, it's likely they will soon. With that in mind, I thought I'd give you a little report on what I've found so far.
I would guess a big question for everyone would be "Is this going to be an alternative to Netflix?" I think it has a long way to go before it's a viable alternative. For one thing, the movie catalog at this point really is pretty dismal. There are a few recent films thrown in here and there, but mostly it's low budget films from previous decades. Now, that might appeal to some users, but is it worth the price?
"Is it worth it?" - The Redbox Instant streaming service is going to cost $8/month. You get 4 free rental credits currently, right now they can only be used with the Redbox kiosk. If that expands to online VOD rentals (more recent films not included in the subscription), it may be worth the cost for that alone. If you typically watch paid-for movie videos on demand through Amazon, Vudu, or other providers, $2.00 per rental would be pretty inexpensive in comparison. But that's if they have movies that you want to watch, and that is a question that each user will have to figure out on their own. Right now they only have a subset of what is available, presumably because they don't have digital rights to all the movies they carry at a kiosk. Sample titles currently available include Pitch Perfect, Arbitrage,Ted, Bourne Legacy, ParaNorman, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Amazing Spiderman, Magic Mike, Total Recall, The Expendables 2, etc. It's not a large selection right now, maybe 40 titles. Right now these movies are more costly to rent through Redbox Instant than other instant-streaming alternatives - $6.99 for HD rental of Ted, for example.
Ease of use - right now there is the website version and apps for iOS and Android. While the beta information doesn't tell you this, you need a separate invite code for each platform. You'll have to request one from customer service. I'm assuming that even using a different browser will require another access code, since logging on from my PC didn't allow me through to instant, after I registered on my Mac. Hopefully after the beta, this will get straightened out and we will have device linking available. The iOS app doesn't allow instant watch rentals to be purchased from the app. This is consistent with other iOS apps, since it competes against the iTunes store.
So...my verdict is WATCH and WAIT. I'll be unsubscribing when my free trial is over. What they need to do to keep me as a customer (or have me come back later) is include recent VOD titles as part of that 4-rentals-included-per-month deal (or at the very least reduce the rental costs to below Amazon, Vudu and VOD offered by cable companies), expand their library of videos included in the subscription , and offer a Roku channel.