For those who don’t like membership-based services, Redbox and VUDU offer great a la carte movie services. They feature all the new releases and even have some older titles, and you only buy what you want to watch and in what format (DVD, Blu-ray, HD, etc.). The only difference between the two is that Redbox requires you to visit one of their many kiosks to rent movies, while you can easily stream a VUDU rental online on a number of compatible devices. See how the two movie rental services measure up against one another!

Background

VUDU is the latest buy-only-what-you-want video streaming service on the web that offers movies on a per-rental basis. You can easily stream the movie to a compatible device and choose between a couple of quality options and even opt to buy the title if you want. Redbox is the new movie store (or kiosk, really) that has popped up at markets, liquor stores and all sorts of various locations all across the country. You’ll literally find like 10 kiosks in a one-mile radius of your location. You walk up to it, select a movie from its pre-loaded selection, pay and your DVD (or Blu-ray) disc pops out. There are even video games in some of those red kiosks for gamers to rend nightly for a fairly low price. According to Redbox, there are more than 333,000 kiosks in more than 27,800 locations.

User Friendly

A Redbox kiosk is so simple to use that a five year old can use it! It’s a touch screen-based kiosk that allows you to browse titles by new releases, genres and via a search. VUDU is just as easy, but requires you to go online to register a username and password to sign in. It’s free to do so. But you don’t have to be signed in to browse titles and stuff, but you’ll be granted more access to the site once you are a signed in member.

Winner: Tie

Compatible Devices

Redbox kiosks only offer DVDs and Blu-ray discs, but some actually offers video games for consoles that include Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 (but not kiosks have this option). Any devices that can take DVDs and Blu-ray discs are good to go with Redbox rentals, including in-car systems, video players, computers and personal DVD/Blu-ray players. VUDU offers a variety of compatible devices, including iOS-based devices, PC computer, PS3, Xbox 360 (but you’ll need a LIVE Gold membership to use), and lots of other Internet-connected Blu-ray players and HDTVS. To see what device models can exactly be used, just go under the devices tab on VUDU’s site, and you can see what works and what doesn’t.

Winner: VUDU has more device options

Titles

The thing with Redbox kiosks is that the little red box can’t fit an endless amount of discs, so you’re not going to find titles from yesteryears. Redbox kiosks offer more new releases than anything, with titles being added/switched up every week or so. You might find an oldie but goodie in a kiosk, but you’ll most likely have to spend, like, 10 minutes searching and that might not fly with others in line to rent movies. But each kiosk has different inventory, which might make for some pleasant surprises. If you’re very interested in a particular title, though, you can easily go online and search to find a kiosk nearby that does carry it and then you can even hold it so that no one gets it before you do.

VUDU doesn’t exactly give an exact count of all their titles, but they do mention that they have more than 20,000 titles at your disposable. And like Redbox, the service has a lot of new releases available. But unlike Redbox, they have older titles and even TV shows, offering a bigger selection than Redbox. You can also choose to watch HD options if you’d like.

Winner: VUDU has more titles than in Redbox kiosks

Membership Perks

Redbox doesn’t require any type of membership. You just show up to a kiosk near you and rent to your heart’s desire! BUT, for those who like to know what movies that particular kiosk or others nearby carries, they can easily go online and create a free profile to become more involved with the Redbox community. Once you create a username and password, you can easily check out new releases, place titles on hold and even get certain discounts like promo codes for free rental and more. Plus, when you reserve a movie at your local kiosk for the first time, you’ll only pay $1 instead of the usual price (more on that in the Price section). Also, you can easily return the discs to ANY Redbox kiosk, so it doesn’t always have to be the one you rented from. There are also mobile apps that allows you to browse titles and reserve titles from your mobile device! Oh, and may kiosks now allow you to return a movie even when someone is browsing the selection with its latest feature where you just press a bottom on the side for easy return without having to wait in line just to return something.

VUDU doesn’t require a membership either, and acts like a Redbox kiosk for streaming content, offering per-need services. It’s like a video-on-demand service that y our cable provider has, but it might be cheaper. VUDU gives new members a $5 credit, which is good for one movie and a half (given it’s regularly priced at around $3). Movies come in HDX quality if desired and you can stream in 1080p, with rich Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound available for those with awesome home entertainment sound systems. Another cool thing is that you can watch the first couple minutes of movie before you buy to make sure you like it or not. The site has loads of tabs that makes movie discovery very easy and will also showcase special titles that are on sale. And if you refer friends you get a $3.99 credit. And if you love a movie so much, you have the option to buy and download it at full price (similar to what it would cost in a DVD or Blu-ray format at a store). VUDU also just started offering its Disc to Digital program that works with Walmart where you convert your old discs (some titles are not included) into digital copies on your VUDU account, even allowing you to upgrade old discs into HDX copies for a small fee at various Walmart location.

Winner: VUDU with its various advantages and discounts

Content

Redbox mostly carries new releases and it’s purely all movies (with the occasional video games if the kiosk allows), but that’s pretty much it. You also might find the occasional documentary, but no TV shows. VUDU is like Redbox in that it offers all the new releases pretty fast, so they also have contracts with all the major movie labels (and they offer TV shows, so they have contracts with major networks, too).

Winner: Tie

Speed of Service

Redbox titles start immediately, so as soon as you put the disc in the compatible player and push play. However, you still need to travel to your local kiosk, get out of the car and, maybe, stand in a long ass line to rent a movie if it’s a Friday or Saturday night, since that’s when most people go rent movies. And they’re not always really fast at choosing titles, with waiting time varying. But you can rent anytime of the day you want and the due date is the very next day. VUDU on the other hands streams movies, so you can watch instantly, and there’s no need to have to leave your house to rent a movie you want to watch. But you do need to have a compatible device that works on your TV to watch it there or else you’d have to play it on your mobile or tablet.

Winner: VUDU

Quality

Redbox rentals are good to go as soon as you get them, but some might be scratched, broken or even switched out to a different movie since so many people rent them. But that’s not usually the case. If you do encounter any problems, you can easily call the customer service line and you’ll probably be given a rental credit or even reimbursed. VUDU offers HD quality movies and TV shows in 720p and 1080p. VUDU has some 3D titles (but you need 3D devices to watch them in 3D obviously). And VUDU does offer that Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound for those who have systems that are compatible with such amazing sound.

Winner: VUDU offers 3D movies!

Limitations

Both services have inherent limitation.  With VUDU, you’ll need a compatible device as well as a decent Internet connection if you want to stream full HD movies.  Redbox requires that you drive to the location and pick up or return the discs.  If you don’t return them before 9pm you’ll be charged an additional day, which can range from $1 to $1.50 depending on the format you choose (DVD vs Blu-ray).  However, Redbox does off Blu-ray movies, which are still better quality than VUDU’s full HD, or as they call them HDX movies.

Winner: Tie since they both have their limitations.

Price

To rent at Redbox, you’ll have to spend $1.20 a movie, $1.50 for Blu-ray discs and $2 for games. Rentals used to be $0.99, but they’ve recently increased their price, but it’s still not that bad. But if you go online to reserve a movie at your local kiosk, you’ll get your first rental for only $1. VUDU prices vary a bit, and they offer discounted prices on some movies (You’ll have to check out VUDU’s site to know which ones are on sale). Some titles cost $2 to rent for two nights, others are about $5, with HDX options the most expensive ones. For newer SD movies, you’ll pay $3.99 and HD titles go for $4.99, but you even have the choice to go with HDX for $5.99. If you want to buy the titles, expect to pay the same amount you would if you bought a physical copy at at store.

Winner: Redbox is cheaper

Overall Winner

Redbox is great and all, but sometimes you just want to catch a movie without having to leave the comforts of your own home, which is what VUDU allows you to do. Sure, it’s a bit more expensive than Redbox, but you don’t have to bother with lines at the kiosks or having to leave without the exact movie you wanted to see. Since both are a la carte movie rental services, VUDU has a digital edge on Redbox!



Kristie Bertucci

 
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.