Blinkbox full review
Blinkbox is one of the best on-demand video services out there. It has a great catalogue of content with an easy-to-use interface. And you can access Blinkbox from an impressive range of devices on a variety of platforms. Our only concerns are the less than stellar broadcast quality, and the fact that Blinkbox doesn't play nicely with mobile devices.
But if you want to access a wide range of recent video releases from multiple devices, Blinkbox is where its at. (Just don't be afraid to check out the competition - Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video comparison review: What's the best streaming service?)
What is Blinkbox?
Blinkbox is a video-streaming service. More prosaically it is the on-demand video service from Tesco. You don't have to subscribe, you simply have to sign up and then you can purchase or rent content as you go.
Sign up and you can use Blinkbox to stream content on an impressive number of platforms and devides. Watch video on your PC, laptops, tablet or games console. You can watch Blinkbox video on iPads, Windows tablets and Android tabs, as well as Windows PCs and Macs. A variety of Blu-ray players and TVs from the likes of Samsung, LG, Philips and Toshiba also support Blinkbox.
We particularly liked the useful Windows 8 app for Blinkbox, and many of the words in that sentence have never previously been written together.
That's all good, but there are some limitations. Blinkbox is primarily a streaming service: to download content you need to be using a PC or Mac. Perhaps because of this requirement to be connected there is no real mobile option. Unless you are streaming to tablet via a particularly robust connection. Otherwise we found Blinkbox worked well on a variety of platforms. (There are ways around these problems, too. See: How to connect a laptop to TV with HDMI and more.)
Each purchase can be watched on only one device at a time, which seems fair. It can be a bit faffy to jump from device to device but we imagine in most user scenarios you will be watching a whole film or show on just the one device. One account can be used to register up to five devices. If you want to switch to a sixth device you can - up to three times every 90 days.
That's the basics. But as with all on-demand content services, it is the content itself that is critical. And here, as you might expect from Tesco, there is a lot to browse. We were particularly impressed with the number of latest release movies - generally available at the same time as the Blu-ray and DVD release. You won't see movies that quickly very often on rival subscription services.
The TV offering is not quite as good. There is a fair smattering of older domestic free-to-air TV content, and some premium pay-TV content including Game of Thrones. But if you come for the TV, you'll stay for the movies.
New movies generally cost around £3.49 to rent, £4.49 to rent in HD. You can buy movies for £9.99 or £12.99 in HD. And a whole series of Game of Thrones will set you back £17.99. Once rented you have 48 hours to watch a movie after you start watching. And that must occur within 30 days of the transaction.
Blinbox: performance and specs
A movie-streaming interface is, well, a movie-streaming interface. But Blinkbox's is as good-looking as you are likely to get, and we found it relatively easy to use. Easy enough. The tablet apps are less pretty but functional. We have more here: Blinkbox for iPad and Android review.
Playback quality is less impressive, however. Watch on your PC or an Xbox console and you can enjoy up to 720p content (if you pay for HD). Everywhere else you are in standard def, and that is disappointing. Sound is stereo and good enough, but the whole package is based on ease of access rather than quality of experience. If you are a Blu-ray toting, AV-expert cinephile this is not the service for you. (See also: Do I need a TV Licence? How to save money on your TV Licence.)
- Web-connected laptop, PC or Mac, iPad, Android or Windows tablet, Xbox or PlayStation, compatible BR player or smart TV