Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moviecle Movie Vending Machines: Now in Boston

The way we think about renting movies at the while traveling is about to change thanks to a new vending machine from Canada based FADOW.

Until now, renting movies at airports involved acquiring physical DVDs and DVD players from kiosks or shops and then dropping them off at another airport location. Some airports have tinkered with providing movies for download over their wireless networks, but this practice is slow and limited to a few airports.

All of these rental practices may soon become outdated when the Moviecle fast downloading self service kiosks, which were recently launched for tests at terminal A of the Boston Logan International Airport, go nationwide. By quickly transferring movies and other video content to a flash drive, the Moviecle kiosk allows travelers to easily acquire movies and travel guides at the airport.

Here's how Moviecle works:
1. Find a Moviecle kiosk.
2. Insert your flash drive into the USB slot.
3. The interactive menu is activated when you plug in your flash drive. Select the content that you'd like to download.
4. Wait for the download to complete. Downloading takes 2-3 minutes depending on your drive and the size of the file. Advertisements will be displayed during the download.
5. Connect to the airport wireless connection and pay for your selection. Connecting to internet in order to pay for your movie rental is free.
6. Watch your video any time in the next 48 hours.

I recently tried out one of the Moviecle kiosks, and I was pleased to discover that there were several free videos to download. FADOW also provides several free travel guide videos. The process was easy and two 12-minute videos took just over a minute to download.

To get a better idea of how the kiosks work, I've taken a short video:

The cost to rent a movie from Moviecle is between $3.99 and $5.99, which seems a little high for a 48 hour rental. However, there are the selection and convenience factors to consider. If a movie that I've been dying to see is available via Moviecle, I just might be tempted.

The kiosks that are currently at the Boston airport are prototypes to work the bugs out of the system, and I did notice a few bugs. Of the four machines that I saw, three of them had monitors that were not functioning (each kiosk has 2 interactive monitors). I also noticed a loose USB port when using one machine. I was kicked out of the main menu once, which I'm assuming this had to do with the loose USB port.

Due to the file protection used, movies will only work with Windows XP, sorry Mac users. However, free content is available in Quicktime format which is Mac compatible. System requirements for activating the movies can be found at the FADOW website.

The Moviecle kiosk concept is solid, but there are a few kinks to work out before they catch on in a major way:

1.Kiosk Durability
The condition of the kiosks was not great. Kiosks need to be able to run without constant hardware problems. Adding new movies should be the most common maintenance done, not repairing monitors and USB ports. Children (and travel bloggers) will be banging on these machines all day long, so they have to stand up to the punishment.

2. Compatibility With Other Devices
While Blackberry support is in the works, the ability to support the iPhone could drastically increase the use of Moviecle kiosks. Many tech savvy people do use Macs, so general Mac support would also be an asset.

3. View Before You Plugin
Currently, you have to plug in your flash drive before you see what content is available. It would be great to be able to see the selection of available movies before you dig out a flash drive.

What does this mean for the current leaders in airport movie rentals, InMotion and Redbox? With its ability to deliver content without handling physical disks or devices and the lack of need for attendants, FADOW can theoretically undercut the competition while maintaining a profit. Personally, if I were at InMotion or Redbox I'd start worrying as Moviecle kiosks just may be the future of the airport movie rental industry.

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  1. Hi Graham,
    Great review and video. Such a neat concept and I was surprised that there were only 6 pages of movies to choose from, one would think there would be hundreds. I do not get the 48 hour deal. If it is in your flash drive does it not last forever or does it self destruct? Now for people like me who do not always have a flash drive or it may be full, it would be cool if somehow these machines could download a few movies on to a flash drive and the FD comes out a hole at the bottom of the machine, like a soda. A one time fee for that FD and a small fee to "refill" old movies erased new ones put on. I also don't understand why the movie prices are all different, crazy! I do like the idea of travel movies too so that we can learn about the city we are traveling. What would be cool is a Rosetta Stone download with serveral language lessons. Forget blogging Graham, our families should go in together and get one of these gizmos, but better and put it in the airports we could be rich!

  2. Robin: I'm sorry that I wasn't clear on the 48 hour rental details. The file that you download to your flashdrive is DRM protected. What you pay for is a 48 hour license to use the file, after 48 hours the license expires.

    More selection will surely come when these devices are widely distributed. This is a pilot program so the features are a little slim. You may have noticed in the video that mentions you can download games yet no games are available.

    I thought about a flash drive dispenser, but then you are dealing with physical goods and have to deal with that. For simplicity, I'm OK with them not offering flash drives. Another vending machine is in order.

    Fortunately, the Best Buy express kiosks stock flash drives. You can find these kiosks at most major airports. Can you tell that I've given this way too much thought?

    There are a lot of directions that the Fadow guys can go with this and I look forward to seeing where they run with the concept.

  3. Thanks for the info Graham... I'm going to look into this for EUG. --Cathryn