Rob Pegoraro says why bother?
- The idea of renting movies online seems a lot less silly than it did two years ago, when a site called Movielink debuted.
....CinemaNow and Movielink now offer better downloading options that reduce or eliminate the lengthy wait to transfer a movie to a computer.
But they still carry too few titles at too high a price. There's very little here to lure anybody from ordinary movie-rental stores, DVD-by-mail services like Netflix, or cable and satellite pay-per-view options.
Both CinemaNow and Movielink look and work alike in some respects. You must run Windows to watch anything at either site. Both require loading their own download-management software as well, but Movielink is more annoying to use — the site can't even be viewed in any browser but Internet Explorer and was agonizingly slow.
Forget using either site without a broadband Internet account — these movies weigh in at 500 or more megabytes apiece. Although you can start watching movies before they've finished downloading, that still involves a wait of at least a few minutes and as much as an hour, depending on your connection. (Over a 608-kbps digital subscriber line, "Finding Nemo" took 2 hours and 22 minutes to finish downloading.)
....These sites' rental rates start at $2.99 for up to 48 hours of viewing — the clock starts ticking when you first begin watching, not when the download completes — but all the flicks I rented cost $3.99 or $4.99 and allowed 24 hours of use.
CinemaNow offers a few other pricing choices. You can sign up for $9.95 or $29.95 "Premium Pass" monthly subscriptions that include unlimited rentals; the more expensive plan adds access to an "After Dark" collection of adult movies. The site also sells 30 rather obscure titles as so-called permanent downloads — "Manilow Live!" can be yours for $14.99 if you have a hankering for the syrupy singer's work.