Before I start comparing the two products, let’s first define what service they offer:
Netflix and Blockbuster online are both DVD rentals online services.
Their principle is simple: You sign up for their services and choose how many DVDs you want to receive at a time. Then once you sign up, you choose movies to put in your “Queue”, as they call it, and they will start mailing you your rentals.
The advantages about these online DVD rentals services are obvious:

  1. You get your movies directly at home without having to go out and get them yourself
  2. They have a bigger selection than your ordinary DVD rental store.
  3. You pay one low monthly fee and get more DVDs than you would if you were renting them in a store.

My next section will be about comparing two of the main online DVD rentals services:
Netflix.com and Blockbuster.

(As a note, I would like to say that I have personally tried both services and have found that Netflix is the most fulfilling of the two. I will show you why below.)

Both services offer 2-weeks free trial!

Let’s start by going through different criteria:

User Interface:

Netflix: Very clear and easy to use. Almost always have a picture of the DVD cover. In addition, they have a cool pop-up feature they call “extra movie information” (which you can disable if you don’t like it) – when you put your mouse on any title a pop-up window appears with the picture of the DVD cover and a brief summary of the story and film info. It is very practical especially when you only see a text link and would like to see what the DVD cover looks like or read more about it without have to click and open a new page everytime.

Blockbuster: Their website is also very clear and easy to use. However, unlike, Netflix, they do not have the “extra movie information” pop-up, which means you have to click on every text link if you want to see the DVD cover picture.

Queue:

Netflix: Their queue is pretty straightforward and easy to manage. In addition, they still have that “extra movie information” pop-up enabled there, so if for example you forgot which movie you put in your queue, you can just put your mouse over the text and you will see the DVD cover as well as some information.

Blockbuster: Their queue is also pretty straightforward and easy to manage, but again, no “extra movie information”.

Availability:

Netflix: From my experience I would say that 90% of their movies are available immediately. Even though some titles might be noted as “Short Wait”, I never had to wait for any of them. All I had to do was put them at the top of our queue and they were always shipped.
Note: I never had to wait for any of the films I wanted to rent.

Blockbuster: Here is the thing I noticed about Blockbuster: even though they say their films are available now, they might not ship it even if it is at the top of your queue. Their explanation: When I asked them, they said that even though an item is shown as available now, it might mean it is only available at one of their other distribution center, not the one in your region, so they will not ship the film until it is available in your distribution center.
(Note: This came up with Netflix too and instead of not sending you the film, the distribution center that does have the film will ship it to you directly, this might take an extra day, but I personally would rather wait an extra day than not get the movie at all.)
In addition, I noticed that a lot of the films I wanted to rent were shown as “short wait” or “long wait” which means a usual wait of 2-4 weeks for the film. Some of my films in long wait didn’t even change status after 4 weeks of waiting and being in first position in my queue.

Speed:

Netlfix: There is definitely no comparison here, they receive and ship faster than Blockbuster. I always receive my films in one day and they receive them in one day too. You can’t be faster than this with mail!

Blockbuster: The usual time to get a film was 2 days and for them to get it back was 2 days too. This is very long and cuts way down on the number of rentals you get per month. Sometimes it would even take longer. Rarely, I would get a movie in one day, but that was always a special occasion. The only good point Blockbuster has is that they ship on Saturdays (unlike Netflix), but that definitely doesn’t make up for their lack of speed.

Extra Features:

Netflix: They have a cool feature called Friends – you can invite people you know who have Netflix too to be your friends, there you can recommend movies to each other, see what each other is watching, etc. It is really fun!
They also have the possibility to create different profiles on the same account. What this does is that if you live with a roommate, boyfriend or husband, you can share the same Netlfix account but each have your own queue. You decide how to assign the DVDs, for example if you have the 3 at a time rental plan, one person might get 2 and the other 1 and they are totally independent of each other. This is a very practical feature if you live with someone who doesn’t have the same taste as you. You can each decide what movies you want to see and prioritize them as you want. Each profile gets all the Netflix services. So you can even be each other’s friends.
In addition, Netflix offer more rentals a month (for a higher price of course) so that if 3 rentals at a time is just not enough for you, you can get up to 8. This option is a great complement of the multiple accounts feature.

Blockbuster: To make it short, Blockbuster has none of that! I think I might have heard that maybe they offer more rentals a month too, but I have not seen that personally.

I guess it is not a secret which service is the best for me: Netflix is my recommendation.

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