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Pick Of The Week DVD Pick of the week

Brave

Brave

With a courageous and impetuous heroine leading the way, Disney Pixar sets out on yet another extraordinary journey this time across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland in Brave.

DVD Rental Guide

Comparing Providers - a Guide to renting DVDs online

When comparing the services of companies providing DVD rental, there are other things you should consider besides the price. As with any kind of product or service, the best price doesn't always reflect the best value for money.

Packages and Rental Periods:

Whilst the specifics of rental packages will ultimately differ between providers, generally speaking, the types of packages on offer from providers are more or less the same - you can sign up for packages that let you keep titles you rent for an unspecified length of time, and some which limit the number of DVDs you can take out each month, or have in your possession at any one time.

Look out for terms and conditions buried in the small print; certain top up packages which work on a credits basis will say that after 6 months, your credits will expire, so think of these types of subscription in terms of 6 month plans rather than monthly or annual ones. If you are interested in renting out DVDs and games from the same provider, check to see if the service you are signing up for allows this; just because a retailer stocks both films and video games, don't automatically assume you will be able to rent both out regardless of what package you sign up for. For more information on the different types of rental packages available, click here.

Catalogues:

This isn't really a concern if you are after big name blockbusters; it's a safe bet to say that you'll be able to get Star Wars out whoever you sign up with. However, if you want to be able to place an order for something obscure, like a selection of titles from the Dogme 95 movement, or the works of Yasujiro Ozu, then you might want to consider singing up with a provider who offers a wide selection of titles.

DVD rental market leaders carrying 65,000 titles carry perhaps ten times as many films as an average video store, encompassing nearly every DVD title available in the UK. The big DVD companies will stock thousands of copies of popular new releases, in anticipation of high customer demand. Be mindful though, that even with these measures in place, demand for a popular new title can often clear out stocks. If a very popular choice is all rented out, you'll have to wait until it becomes available - the chances of this happening can be mitigated somewhat by going for a provider with a large catalogue.

Some retailers share catalogues and draw orders from the same stock of titles, and in some cases, the same warehouses - be mindful of this, as the price between the two may differ, even though you are essentially getting the same service, and range of titles drawn from the same stock.

Price:

The costs for DVD rental services are family similar, with the most expensive packages priced at around £25-£30 a month, and the more popular packages priced somewhere around £15-£20 a month. Saving a fiver a month does make a big difference to your pocket over a period of say 12 months, but consider the quality of the service of a provider before you decide based on price - is it worth saving a few quid a month if the service you end up receiving isnt any good? Free trial periods can help you make up your mind over whether a provider is worth bothering with once the 14 or 21 day period is up.

Again, you should also be mindful that some retailers share stock and draw their orders from the same warehouse - the price between the two may differ, even though you are essentially getting the same service, and titles drawn from the same catalogue.

Free Trial Periods:

Virtually all of the major DVD rental companies are now offering free trial periods of their services to entice new customers. Whilst in general a free trial period is exactly that - there are no obligations to join up after the period - the specifics of each providers trial period and their respective terms and conditions will differ greatly.

Be aware that providers who share the same stock will not offer free trial periods to customers who have previously signed up to another provider sharing the same facilities. More in depth information on how free trial periods work can be found here.

Game Rentals:

You may also be interested in renting games as well as films from a retailer. With new game titles often costing in excess of £40 upon release, Unlimited plans are very attractive for gamers, as you can keep the game until you finish it - or get significantly through the game, save your progress, and then buy a cheap copy of the game after it's initial shelf price has come down. An Unlimited 2 or 3 plan also means that you can have one slot occupied by a game, and still rent out films. Click here for more info on the different types of rental packages.

Whilst some providers who rent out DVDs will have a great selection of films, their games department might not match up - if you're interested in renting out games as well as movies, check to see how many titles they have available and if they cater for every format; some providers will stock titles for last gen platforms, (PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube) but not everyone will.

Something else for gamers to consider is the size of a retailer's HD library. As two of the next-gen consoles also come with some form of HD drive either built in or available as a separate attachment, you might want to consider renting out Blu-Ray or HD DVD titles as well as games. Which brings us nicely on to our next section of this guide!

HD Titles:

For those wanting to enjoy the next generation of in-home cinema entertainment, a number of retailers have stocks of titles available in both the HD formats - even though the format war is over with the Sony-backed Blu-Ray reigning victorious over Toshiba's HD DVD, you can still rent out titles both formats.

New titles will not be added to stocks of HD DVD discs, and it is likely that in years to come, availability of HD DVD titles to rent may be phased out altogether. Due to the relative youth of the HD formats, the size of the stocks can in no way hope to mirror that of DVD stocks.