By Chris Scott Barr
It’s rather apparent that the old video rental store model just isn’t working in today’s world. With companies like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster going under (the latter isn’t completely dead just yet, but it is getting there), I wonder how many years we’ll still see this type of business. The three biggest alternatives are discs by mail (Netflix), streaming video (also Netflix, Hulu, etc) and rental kiosks (RedBox, Blockbuster). One company is hoping to get in on the latter, with a twist.
How would you feel about going to a kiosk and renting a movie, loading it up on a USB flash drive and taking it home? Tha’ts what Flix on Stix is aiming for. They want to slap a movie on your USB flash drive (or sell you one) and program it to automatically disable playback after a set amount of time. Their rates certainly aren’t bad with $1 for 3 days, $2 for 6, $3 for 9 days and $4 for 12 days being talked about.
The good side is that you wouldn’t have to worry about late fees or remembering to take back the movie to one of those kiosks. On the other hand, there are some major concerns. The biggest of these being the amount of time it will take to copy a movie over to a flash drive. What kind of compression are they going to use for the movies? How large will the files be? More importantly, how long am I going to have to stand there and wait for the movie to copy over?
They are going to equip each station with USB 3.0, so if you happen to have shelled out some big bucks for such a drive, you’ll see significantly faster copy times. However, most people won’t have one of these. Also, how many people have a computer hooked up to their TV? Yes, the tech-savvy crowd is more likely to have one, but what about the average consumer? Few of my family and non-geeky friends even see a point in such a setup.
I think that this particular type of venture is a bit ahead of its time, just because of the technological issues outlined above. Unfortunately, I think by the time USB 3.0 is more prominent, and more people have ways to playback these movies on their TVs, streaming will have all but taken over the market.