Renting and buying movies online has been around for years, especially since Apple’s iTunes Store changed the industry and caused some very notable video rental stores to go belly up. CinemaNow first entered the Canadian market last year, and recently expanded its scope in the country with new apps for iOS and Android.
The first inclination might be to compare CinemaNow to Netflix, but it’s really more like iTunes or Xbox Marketplace. Netflix is an all-you-can-eat buffet for one flat monthly rate, while CinemaNow is a la carte, meaning you pay for what you buy or rent.
It’s also similar to iTunes in how the movies and shows you buy work on the devices you own. Apple has long limited your distribution of the content to five authorized devices — all of which have to be Apple products, like Macs, iOS devices or the Apple TV. The only non-Apple device that works is a Windows PC. CinemaNow also has a five-device authorization limit, but offers a wider ecosystem that you can watch on. You can watch a show or movie on an Android tablet, an Internet-connected Blu-ray player (so long as it’s compatible), a Mac, PC, iOS device and almost any other device that has some form of compatibility. I haven’t tested them all, so I can’t say for sure what could potentially work.
The mobile side of this is the most interesting because it’s a service that is more open than others. Downloading a movie and transferring it to my Nexus 7 tablet was a breeze. Same with watching it on the iPad. There are dedicated apps on both platforms that actually tap in to your account and your purchases and rentals. From there, you can download them directly to the device (do that over Wi-Fi) and watch offline. You should do it this way because streaming over 3G or LTE can eat into your data plan in a big way.
CinemaNow gets the latest movie releases the same day they hit store shelves on DVD and Blu-ray. You can opt for either HD or SD quality, and prices are generally about the same or cheaper than iTunes. You can buy or rent entire seasons of TV shows (though I have to admit, it gets costly to do it for a number of shows) and watch them at your leisure. Just note that rentals are automatically deleted after 48 hours, so you don’t have that much time to put off watching.
Naturally, you can buy or rent whatever is available through the apps, and your library syncs automatically with other devices because it’s all in the cloud anyway. Rentals can start at $2.49, while some films can be bought for as low as $9.99 or new releases go for $19.99.
If you’re looking for a service that complements some of the others you use, meaning something you can rely on for a quick rental or purchase of a movie or show you want right away, then CinemaNow works as advertised.
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