Blinkbox is the on-demand video service from Tesco – one of the last things we’d expect from a supermarket megabrand, but it’s pretty good and does the job.
Blinkbox offers some of the latest releases, including some titles that have yet to be released on disc.
The deal here is simple: no contract, no monthly ties. You pay for what you rent or buy. Rentals are yours for 30 days, and you have 48 hours to finish anything you start.
Purchases are stored in your Blinkbox digital locker, and you get to keep them ‘forever’.
Prices are the norm for on-demand services. For films, it’s typically £13.99 for new releases and £10.99 for films in standard def. Rentals are around £4.49 (HD) and £3.49 (SD), while there’s an offers section with HD films for £5.
For TV series, it’s a bit more unpredictable because of the varying running times and number of episodes.
Individual episodes tend to be £2.49 in HD and £1.89 in SD. We’ve seen HD box sets priced at £25, but the final season of Breaking Bad was £17.99.
As an offshoot of Tesco, there are benefits for Clubcard holders. You get one point for every £1 you spend, and there are exclusive offers including discounted (or even free) content.
Choice is excellent, particularly when it comes to the latest releases. Films are available on the same day as the Blu-ray and DVD – some times even earlier.
We’ve spotted films online two weeks before their disc debut. That’s months before they are likely to appear on any other subscription service.
The TV series offering is almost as good – not in quantity but in variety. You’ll find older BBC and ITV titles along with some of the latest from Sky and HBO – including all of Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.
You will be able to use the service on an impressive number of platforms: computers, Xbox 360, PS3 and select Blu-ray players and TVs from Samsung, LG, Philips and Toshiba.
There are tablet apps on Android, iOS and even Windows. No smartphones, however.
Downloads are only available on PC, so you’ll have to stream on all other formats. One account can register up to five platforms at a time – try to register a sixth and you’ll be invited to ditch one of the others.
You can do this three times in 90 days. Each purchase can only be watched on one device at a time.
Mostly good so far, but Blinkbox loses some steam towards the finish line: video resolution is only up to 720p, and sound is in stereo.
It looks good enough not to distract, although it is softer than a 1080p feed from Google Play.
And to make things worse, you only get 720p on computers and Xbox – it’s standard definition everywhere else.
The interface is attractive and easy to use on most platforms. The iPad app is fairly basic, though, and only allows playback. There’s no such problem on the Android, however.
Overall, it’s a strong effort. We like the catalogue. We like the interface. The platform support is impressive.
It’s the video quality and lack of mobile support stopping us from awarding the five stars.
However, if your priority is getting latest releases, you will be perfectly happy.
Monthly cost: N/A
New HD film: £13.99
5.1 sound: No
Max picture resolution: 720p
Platforms: Smart TV, Blu-ray player, game consoles, Android, iOS, Windows 8