CafeDVD had a lot of promise. It had a lot of odd movies. Far too many gay movies. Overall it was just too damned slow. When your business involves shipping you need to be located in the Midwest near the Crossroads of America.
Despite what you read, DVD by mail is still a much needed service for many Americans. Yes, some larger areas have Redbox devices and even my Casey’s gas station has a DVD rental service I belong to, but those tend to be really limited services.
One Quarter of America Doesn’t Have Access to High Speed Broad Band
You see, even Time magazine is writing articles about how one quarter of America doesn’t have access to high speed broad band. Technically, I’m in that one quarter group. I have line of sight Internet. It is certainly way better than what I had. You “could” stream a movie if you really wanted to and the weather wasn’t bad and I bothered to hook my bedroom television up to a Raspberry Pi with the video server software. And who knows what else.
DVD by Mail Journey
I started out with Netflix when it first launched. Their Web site was obviously created by off-shore labor which had never seen a Web site, let alone used one. Their customer service was obviously a group of off-shore people who had never seen a television or bothered to learn English. I didn’t put up with them very long.
Thankfully BlockBuster came out. Their Web site looked like U.S. Citizens wrote it. I have no idea if their customer service spoke English or not because I never had a reason to contact them via anything other than email. That was only to verify I could temporarily change my address. When BlockBuster got eaten and the DVD by mail shut down I moved to CafeDVD because there was no way I would ever got back to Netflix. (Using off-shore or visa worker IT labor places our national security at risk. In an era of rampant identity theft and cyber-terror not giving such companies money is the patriotic thing to do.)
DVD by Mail Random Pleasure
What I’ve always liked about DVD by mail services is the randomness of it. I take an evening or Sunday afternoon and fill up a queue. I sort the queue the way I want and wait to see what movies arrive.
You don’t always get them in the order you ask for them and that is fine most of the time. It sucks if you are trying to watch season-N of some show and you get the disks out of order, but you can usually arrange your queue in such a way to avoid that.
Until today every DVD by mail service I’ve ever used allowed you to put several hundred titles in your queue. Most encouraged this so they could ship you _something_ while the high demand movies went to the most whiney of customers. GameFly only lets you put 50 in your queue.
Another really great selling point is being able to temporarily change my address. As a traveling consultant who will be on-site for many months at a time, I like being able to move my subscription temporarily.
I always keep a $30 or less DVD player in my travel stuff because not all places have them. In fact, not all places have Internet or at least reasonable Internet. Oh, it is less common now, but I still run into them. Some of the older once high end business hotels which went to the expense of wiring all rooms with a service still try to charge $15 or more per night for Internet.
Yes, they got caught by a tech curve. You used to need cables to get Internet access. When wifi first came out it sucked. The speed was slow and the range was short. Heck when I started restoring an old farm house years go I started wiring it for network. I never got done with that project and now, only the handful of rooms which have network cabling will get it. These AC band routers have great range and decent speed. We are at a state where wifi will continue to improve until it nears the speed of copper wire and low cost routers will have ranges of over a thousand feet through walls.
Some of the corporate housing places I end up in don’t offer Internet or even cable television. It’s not that the owners are cheap, some of them are in places which don’t have cable or have a cable provider which completely sucks.
As long as they have a decent television with antenna and I have my DVD player I’m fine. Many of today’s travelers have their own wireless data plans they bring with them so I suspect corporate housing units will continue the trend of not providing Internet. It may shock you to learn most don’t provide a land line phone, but it is true. Everyone has a cell phone these days so the land line is a waste.
Why DVD by Mail is Important
This conversation may seem to have veered off to some of you, but it is important to understand how important a quality DVD by mail service is to myself and others. CafeDVD was intriguing when I first joined. They had a huge catalog of older movies, most of which I hadn’t seen. An even huger catalog of made for television stuff I had also missed. You could chew your way through entire series’ like Broad Church, Prime Suspect, Breaking Bad, etc.
CafeDVD – Slow Shipping
CafeDVD’s real problem was they were in California. If you are in the shipping business you need to be located in the Midwest. Illinois, Indiana or Iowa. This is where all of the rail and airlines converge. Even though they paid for airmail, it could still take ten days or more for movies to show up once they were flagged as shipped. Usually it was closer to 5, but during times of bad weather over the mountains it could be much longer. I don’t think I’m the only one who felt this problem.
I started to notice they stopped buying new movies several months ago, which was a red flag. Stuck with CafeDVD for a while, but it became harder and harder to get the movies I wanted to see. This got me to join the local Casey’s movie thing and I caught up on some newer movies while waiting for CafeDVD to send me older stuff.
Had to Punt CafeDVD
Finally I decided to punt on CafeDVD. When you search for DVD by mail services most still talk about BlockBuster. Yes, most information is dated to the point of being useless. One page had five services with links listed and reviewed, but only Netflix was still in business. It was quite by accident I stumbled onto GameFly. Hopefully you will all use this “refer a friend” link so I get to watch a couple of free movies and then write reviews of them.
Too early to tell much about GameFly. I sorted their movies by release date and went to the “oldest” when adding to my queue. It seems they don’t have much in the way of old television stuff like Broad Church or Breaking Bad which I had hoped to watch via a DVD by mail service so I could binge without an Internet connection.