So, since mid-October, we’ve been subscribed to  For those who don’t know, Zip’s a DVD rent-by-mail operation.  Canada’s equivalent to Netflix.  Rent-by-mail sounds pretty hokey to start with, but with our plan, we get to have 3 DVDs “out” at a time, and unlimited DVDs for the month.  All for one monthly fee.

So, the first thing that makes this worthwhile is the huge library.  Blockbuster’s got nothing on these guys.  Lots of kids stuff, lots of current stuff, more TV series than you could possible fathom.  We even have some UK series on our list (Blackadder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie) that we’d never be able to get from the local store, or at any sort of quality from any of the Torrent sites.

The second thing is the turn around time.  Usually, it’s about three days between putting a DVD into the mail and getting a new one from your list.  This was a concern going in, but it actually works out rather well.
And, the customer service is good too.  We had a DVD delivered that we didn’t order.  A polite online chat session with a CSR got the problem fixed.  They sent a follow-up email afterwards which led to a second chat when they told me they were going to resend a DVD that I already had.  In the end, we got the DVD we were supposed to, and within a few days.

The fact that we can “time-shift” these is also a plus.  Google for “Auto Gordian Knot”.  And “DVD Shrink”.
On the downside, impulse watching doesn’t happen.  You build a list, and you watch what you get.  You don’t necessarily get what’s at the top of your list, so it’s pretty hard to predict what you’re going to get.  Also, it doesn’t prevent you from getting crap movies.

For example, we recently got three recent “comedies”.  “The Wedding Crashers”, “The 40 Year-Old Virgin”, and “The Brothers Grimm”.  So far, “The Wedding Crashers” was so-so.  No need to see it again.  “The 40 Year-Old Virgin”?  Ugh.  a few funny moments, but painful mostly.  Actually, a painful first half, and an almost enjoyable second half.  And those were two of the better performing movies recently.  I wonder about the third in the set.

I think the best thing is being able to catch up on tv series that we’ve missed out on.  You know, the ones you didn’t watch but turned out to be great.  Sure beats buying them all.

Between this and our PVR, regular TV, movie-store rentals, and movie theatre visits have dried up.  The entertainment industry had better be paying attention — things are changing.