We are movie buffs and have been active members of Netflix since 2004. Over our 11 years we have rented over 900 DVDs from Netflix and streamed hundreds of selections. We have tried various levels of membership (3-at-a-time plan, 4-at-a-time plan, 5-at-a-time plan) and have used all of the Netflix site functions and offerings, from the friends feature to the movie suggestions feature, allowing us to speak with first hand experience on how these features work and what value they offer. We have also dealt with customer service, via the phone, the Netflix site, and email. Lastly, we have also traveled across the country and used Netflix while we were in other states so we can offer tips on how to use Netflix while on vacation as well as provide insight on the relationship that exists between your location and the nearest Netflix distribution center.
We do use Redbox - they are hard to beat for immediacy. We like to reserve a movie on Redbox so we are sure to get it when we drive there, Before we joined Netflix we were active renting members of Hollywood Video (Hollywood Video is part of Movie Gallery) and BlockBuster Video.
We also have rented movies from boutique video stores. Boutiques tend to have just one store and they cater to a more cerebral film viewing audience while providing excellent customer service and superior rental advice. The renting experience is quite different from the large chain rentals: picture the record store in the movie High Fidelity and you get a sense of the flavor found in the boutiques versus the sterile bank like feel associated with the major video chains. Needless to say, we are big fans of boutique rental stores and we encourage you to support your local boutique shop.
We have been proud members of two fantastic boutique stores, the first, Liberty Street Video, was during our college days in Ann Arbor; the second, Le Video, was during the halcyon dot-com days in San Francisco. If you live in SF we urge you to rent from Le Video in addition to any online choices you make as the culture is pretty special and it is an amazing place for great movie tips. Sadly, Liberty Street Video in Ann Arbor closed in 2009.