Redbox Is the New Blockbuster

The next time you’re at the grocery or convenience store, take a look around. If you see a big red box that looks like a soda machine, it may actually be a movie machine filled with the latest releases at very affordable rental prices.

The Redbox kiosk, which can now be found in more than 41,500 locations across the country, has become the go-to service for disc renters thanks to the video store’s demise. Although many Americans now opt to rent movies via streaming or pay TV’s On Demand service, videophiles still prefer discs, particularly Blu-ray discs, saying they deliver the best picture.

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The Redbox machine carries from one to a couple dozen copies of each movie advertised in the box. (Current selections include Trolls: World Tour, Invisible Man, Scoob! and The Hunt.) But not every box has every movie available from Redbox; for example, you might find the Blu-ray edition of Scoob! in one Redbox kiosk but not in the one a mile up the street.

To find out which movies each kiosk currently has, you can download a Redbox app on your smart phone or tablet that gives you an up-to-date inventory. I’ve used it and it’s very helpful. You can also check your local kiosk’s inventory by using Redbox’s web site and clicking on a movie that you want to rent. The site will tell you which kiosks have it in stock.

And to find out where the closest Redbox kiosk is to you, click here.

Now, what’s the price, you ask? To rent a DVD overnight, the cost is $1.80, which includes tax. To rent a Blu-ray movie, the cost is $2, which includes tax. The tax might vary slightly based on where you live. (Also, Redbox is now renting a few 4K titles in 15 test markets for $2.50 a night.)

You have until 9 p.m. the day after you rent the movie to return it. If you don’t return it by then, you will be charged for another day’s rental for each day the movie is out. If you don’t return it for 17 days, you will be charged the maximum price for a purchase ($34 for a Blu-ray and $25 for a DVD) and the disc is yours to keep.

(Note: You can return it to any Redbox kiosk in the United States, not just the one where you rented it.)

You are eligible to rent three different movies the first time you use a Redbox kiosk; after you’ve used it once, you can rent five different movies at a time.

You pay for the movie by using a credit card. But you can also go online at Redbox.com, set up an account and reserve your movie online. Then, when you go to the kiosk, you will touch the button that says, ‘Reservation Pickup.’ After that, you swipe the card you used to make the reservation and pick up your disc. (You can also make reservations using the Redbox app on your smart phone or tablet.)

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For more information on Redbox, you can see the company’s web site here.

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The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

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