In times of recession, and the phrase “staycation” popping up all over magazines and television spotlights, getting a bargain is the best way of not only keeping one’s sanity (we all need our downtime) but also making the most of your hard-earned dollars.
You’ve likely heard and will continue to hear complaints from the Hollywood studios that ticket sales are down, and they are.

But just like now’s a great time for buyers to purchase a car (presumably, that is), so too is it a great time to be a consumer.

Remember Blockbuster Video’s slogan, “Whoa. What a difference”? Those were the good ol’ days, and once we bring that slogan into contemporary times, as we can see, it really is a difference. Movie rentals aren’t what they used to be.

Sometime between the widespread availability of DVDs and Blockbuster’s nemesis Netflix started delivering movies straight to your mailbox without late fees, the counterculture began to change. People really started to stay at home, at least when it came to renting movies.

Now for the average price of about $3.99 you can stay at home and access new releases on Tuesday and never have to leave your living room.

Though the bootleg market is as strong as ever, the truth remains, they’ve never taken much from the market as a whole. Those who want quality entertainment usually pay for that entertainment. The issue now is that most of these consumers have been affected by the economy in way one or another, but would you rather pay $4 for a two-night rental or $1?

Redbox offers just that. Though you will at first feel slightly out of the water, as I did, standing amongst shopping carts and vending machines as you try to make your selection, it’s a rather neat way of getting movies quickly – minimize the wait time, slash the cost. Very simple.

Using a free rental voucher I got from their website ( I tested it out at a nearby Walmart store (you’ll find them at Meijer too). Fairly simple stuff. You select from several categories, which can be broken up into genre if you prefer (sci-fi, suspense, drama, etc.).

My only issue is that there were approximately three pages maximum to scroll through under your preferred category. The selections are current enough (“Watchmen,” “Coraline”), but I prefer a wider canvas to stretch my fingers across. According to the website, you can actually place your order online and retrieve your DVD at your preferred Redbox location. In theory this could be a good thing. Obviously in terms of selection, Netflix has Redbox beat, but in the neighborhood of convenience and decreasing the wait period between rental exchanges, Redbox should certainly be a contender in the next year or so.

Bottom line? It’s $1 per movie, per night. It’s a better deal than either Netflix or Blockbuster online (Blockbuster’s attempt at “riffing” on the Netflix model).

Of course, you’ll probably find it difficult to beat $1. If you’re looking to do that, you can always take a stroll to your library. Yes, the library.

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