PROS / This service has an easy-to-navigate website, great search capabilities and effective support options.
CONS / The limited selection from this service, pay-per-movie structure and confusing instructions are major turnoffs.
VERDICT / If CinemaNow lowered their prices and tweaked their downloading process to include live streaming, we think it could be a 'go to' site for online movie rentals.
"Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because the company no longer has an Online DVD Rental program. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information."
Opening CinemaNow's website gave us at TopTenREVIEWS a sigh of relief. What a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other online DVD rental provider sites. The main page is professional and tastefully done. It is organized and simple to navigate. Not surprising when learning that CinemaNow is owned by Best Buy, a leader in the electronic retail market.
If we were to judge just from this front page, this site would be in the top three. Fortunately, we never judge a book by its cover.
First, we are not a fan of the pricing, which adds up quickly when we have to pay per movie and per television episode. Watching "Glee" with its few seasons may be plausible, but delving into "Lost" may not be financially feasible.
CinemaNow has membership accounts with free sign-up but, unlike our other online DVD rental providers, they do not have membership prices. CinemaNow is purely a la carte, so customers pay for each movie which can be purchased or rented.
One feature we do like about CinemaNow is you are able to download movies right to your computer, so no more waiting for DVDs in the mail. The downside? The website says that even for fast internet connections it could still take up to an hour to download feature-length films. But, once a movie is downloaded onto your computer or hand-held device, you can watch it whenever you want, even without internet connection. The cost to rent a movie is $2.99 to $3.99. When you rent a movie, you have 30 days after downloading it to begin viewing. Once you hit play, however, you have 24 hours to watch the movie. You may watch the movie an unlimited number of times during this short period. Movies are not viewable after the 30 day period.
To watch a television show with CinemaNow, you must purchase it for $1.99 per episode, but it only takes 45 minutes to download with a fast internet connection.
The typical movie description page on CinemaNow gives you the running time, main actors, the director, the year it was released and a synopsis. We also love that they give you the option to share this movie information with various social media sites as well as tell you which electronic device you are able to view it on.
Catering to a "now" generation can be difficult. Netflix has done a superb job of doing that by allowing live streaming. CinemaNow is trying to cater to that generation, but falling short, very short. Instead of the DVD coming in the mail and having the simple option of TV or laptop, CinemaNow's only option is to have consumers buy or rent and then download. We do appreciate that the movie or television show can be watched on the computer, Wii, Xbox 360 and television (with a special cord).
CinemaNow offers their customers 18 different movie genres, which seems reasonable until you compare that 18 to our other online DVD rental providers boasting upwards of 40.
The television genre selection is even more sparse, which is a shame. If we are going to pay $1.99 an episode, we would expect more options.
CinemaNow has fantastic help and support options. They have a detailed frequently asked questions section along with a live chat support engine, which we love and wished all of our online DVD rental services provided, as well as a tech support email.
Giving their customers the ability to contact them via various channels almost makes up for their lack of genre selection. Almost.
With its perfectly designed interface, navigating around the site is a breeze. The search options for CinemaNow are wonderfully simple to use. You can use the advanced search and only look at movies within a certain price point, rating and computer format.
We sincerely thank CinemaNow for having an attractive website and we know customers will too. We just wish that the rest of the site could be as fabulous as the flawless interface.
At TopTenREVIEWS we also realize the need to save our pennies wherever we can, so paying $3.99 per movie and $1.99 per television episode is a bit too steep for our pocketbooks, especially when there are better and cheaper options available.