The world of movie rentals is vastly different than it used to be. First, Netflix brought web-based movie mailings to dominance with its cheap subscription service. But the one problem with Netflix is that you can't get movies instantly—some titles are available for online streaming, but the quality and selection are both poor. Redbox takes a different approach. Its DVD rental kiosks can be found at more than 19,000 locations such as Wal-mart. Most significantly, they're dirt cheap: $1 (plus tax) for a twenty-four hour rental, and you can grab them right then and there. Needless to say, Redbox has gained quite a following.
The new Redbox iPhone application aims to make things even easier. Using the free app, you can select the nearest Redbox location, search for a movie, and then reserve it, so you don't have to worry about someone else snagging a new release. Renting movies certainly doesn't get any easier—or cheaper—than that. Unfortunately, the app is still a little rough around the edges. Lag is irritating, and the search feature could use some work; location services don't seem to work quite right. The app also replicates the features found on the standard Redbox website, though this is probably intentional; Redbox joins a steady flow of apps that aim to provide mobile access to the same technology accessible from your computer's browser. I often use my iPod instead of my laptop, and Redbox is apparently working to perpetuate that trend. Mobile access to full features is something that I can eagerly support.
Redbox isn't perfect, but it's definitely a neat tool for movie buffs. I can see it now...standing in line at a Redbox kiosk with the app, and reserving a movie just before the bloke in front of you tries to rent it. Victory is sweet, and easy rentals are sweeter still.