We're so busy covering network media streamers (look out for a special feature in our upcoming March issue of PC Authority), TiVo, home entertainment networking, DivX and sites like Hulu, we're sometimes guilty of ignoring the humble DVD.
But some are predicting a resurgence in popularity of the DVD, thanks to vending machines. This week global consultancy Deloitte predicted that the number of DVDs hired from rental machine will double in 2010. So what's the big attraction?
The idea is that vending machines will be more convenient and cheaper than a visit to your local Blockbuster or Video Ezy. Customers pickup and drop-off their DVDs from the machine (the theory is that it's located somewhere you already visit, such as outside your supermarket), and movies cost around $2.99 per night.
The company oovie has plans for hundreds of DVD vending machines in supermarkets, liquor stores, petrol stations and other public locations around the country.
|An oovie DVD vending machine: actually running an x86 platform
One of oovie's co-founders Ian O'Rourke said that the company currently has 103 machines (when we spoke) installed, and is adding "between three and five a day". By mid-way through February he predicts another 50 machines, and more than 250 by June. In the next 18 months, O'Rourke said there will be 1,000 of the vending machines, waiting for customers to swipe their credit card for an overnight movie. "It's a very rapid expansion plan," he said.
So are vending machines a better way to see the latest blockbuster? This method doesn't involve messing around with mail, something you need to do with mail-order services like NetFlix. On the other hand, those services usually don't apply late fees. With oovie, rentals are overnight only - you'll pay another $2.99 for each subsequent night you keep the disc (after 14 days you keep it).
Unlike traditional rental shops, there are no membership fees with oovie. You must pay by credit card (no cash), though, and if you want high-definition, oovie machines don't currently stock Blu-Ray (though this could change if oovie decides to offer Blu-Ray in the future).
While there's no doubt iTunes and streaming video are looking increasingly attractive, with both oovie and Red Room DVD making movies rentals cheap and convenient, perhaps dismissing the optical disc as a relic of the pre-broadband era might be a mistake.