Is Blockbuster online any good?
BLOCKBUSTER might be faltering on the high street but their online DVD by post service is still going.
We've been covering the Blockbuster online service from when it was just a pixelated twinkle in the company's eye and know it inside and out.
Here's the potted version: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Let's start with the obvious: Blockbuster recently went into administration.
If you're a potential customer it's not exactly an auspicious start but Blockbuster online are still accepting new customers and it's not yet clear whether rental by post will be closed.
Administrators have said that they'll be keeping the company's "profitable core" in order to sell it, though it's not clear yet which services are included.
In the US, where Blockbuster filed for a form of bankruptcy in October 2010, there was talk of taking the service online only like Netflix, though they were shelved in late 2012.
We've gone into more detail about how the administration action will affect customers here.
Swarms of administrators aside, there's a lot to like about Blockbuster DVD rental.
Fast, reliable service: It's very rare we hear a complaint about Blockbuster online. Their DVD and games arrive speedily by first class post and lost or damaged discs are dealt with swiftly and fairly. Can't say fairer.
Great choice of well priced deals: Blockbuster online is competitively priced and often cheaper than rivals. Perhaps more importantly they have a huge choice of deals. Being able to chop and change means you pay just for the DVDs or games that you're actually using, much more cost effective.
Good site features: DVDs are easy to find and account management is simple on Blockbuster online's site.
There are also nice extras such as Movie Mix - a tool that controls the order you're sent certain genres so that, for example, you'll never be without a comedy - are creeping in too.
Exclusives: Blockbuster online use their high street clout to regularly get much hyped titles two weeks before anyone else.
To pick just two examples, Blockbuster got the exclusive rental rights to Source Code and Attack The Block for over a fortnight and ten days respectively before they were available elsewhere.
If, like us, you hate to wait this is invaluable.
Top Ticket: Blockbuster's 'top ticket' service means that those with unlimited packages can choose to get a title right away (i.e. not just put it on their lists and cross their fingers).
All the UK's DVD rental services offer a priority system - where companies make the best effort to deliver high priority titles first - but, until now, no one has allowed subscribers to jump the queue entirely.
Blockbuster say that not only is Top Ticket title guaranteed to be the next rental they send, they'll make getting it out asap a top priority, even if it's a popular title.
This innovation and access to extra stock in their stores means Blockbuster online is our top pick for DVD rental new releases.
No free trials: Disappointingly, Blockbuster online no longer give out free trials.
You can test the service for £1 for two weeks but, if you're definitely going to sign up, you can save more by opting to get the first month half price instead.
Not the cheapest: As mentioned above, the price differences between online DVD rental deals are a matter of pence but, even so, Blockbuster online isn't the cheapest.
No online streaming: Unlike Lovefilm, Blockbuster doesn't offer films online, via internet-enabled TVs or on the PS3. Boo hiss.
Website troubles: There's nothing really wrong with Blockbuster's website but like many of the company's rental stores, the Blockbuster online website is simply falling a bit behind the times.
It's a little clunky, a little unintuitive at times and it doesn't help that Lovefilm's site is so unfailingly well organised (more on that in our Lovefilm review here.
So: is Blockbuster online any good?
With many spotless years of DVD rental behind them and more innovation on the way, Blockbuster online are far from beat yet.
However, what has been their biggest disadvantage for years, a lack of streaming services alongside rentals by post, has only been highlighted and compounded by their recent lurch into administration.
We hope they can keep going but their future is far from assured.