MovieBeam On The Cheap, Only $49

Dave Zatz —  May 12, 2006

MovieBeam, originally priced at $249 plus $30 activation, dropped to $199 without an activation fee about a month into sales. As I wrote, that price still struck me as barrier to entry given the per-movie rental fees. Well, how does 49 bucks sound? MovieBeam’s online media account manager sent me a note to spread the word about a blog & forum special — just enter code PR49B at checkout to get this deeply discounted rate! At $49 a pop I can see them selling enough units to reach a critical mass, perhaps allowing them to recoup infrastructure investments and hardware costs through movie rentals.

Before pulling the trigger, you might want to review this… “Please confirm that you have a land-line phone before you purchase the MovieBeam Player. Sorry, the MovieBeam Player cannot connect to mobile or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones at this time.” Ben over at HD Beat did get the unit working on Vonage, but your mileage may vary. Also be aware MB is not available in all areas (remember, local stations “beam” the movies), but their online address widget will quickly let you know if you qualify.

I’m in! :)

12 responses to MovieBeam On The Cheap, Only $49

  1. $49 is still too much for this silly service for me. I can TiVo more content than I have time to watch – I have unwatched DVDs as it is. This service just isn’t appealing enough and I can’t see it lasting.

    Of course, it is moot – Moviebeam is not available in my area. Worcester, MA – second largest city in MA (after Boston) and one of the largest cities in New England.

    Great coverage they’ve got. ;-)

  2. From the Moviebeam FAQ:

    Will all movies be in High Definition (HD)? Why not?

    Only a select set of movies on MovieBeam are available in HD. Today, not all movies are made by the movie studios in HD, and library movies were almost all made in standard definition format (or were shot on film and were only digitized in standard definition format for DVD’s).

    I wonder how many movies are actually in HD. Also, you need to pay $40 extra to get the kit with HD cables.

    And didn’t people complain that the video quality over Moviebeam was overcompressed?

    Plus, my local video store lets me keep a DVD for three nights, not 24 hours. Netflix doesn’t limit the time you can keep the movie at all. For new releases, my local video store is cheaper, even for the SD prices. And what’s up with charging more for HD?

    Give me a break.

  3. I have no problem paying 50 bucks to play with a new gadget. I don’t have a cable box (no PPV for me) and I haven’t been in a movie rental store in years, so this could be a reasonable option for the occasional impulsive SD movie rental when Netflix discs are in transit or we’re in the mood for something else. A permanent installation should also be less trouble than hooking up a laptop to the TV as I’ve done a few times for previous impulse buys (Movielink, iTunes).

    I’m under the impression about 10% of the flicks stored on the drive are supposed to be HD and I assume we can use our own HD cables (though I plan to connect it to the SD bedroom set). Ben at HD Beat thrashed the HD quality, though Jeremy at LiveDigitally was a bit more forgiving.

    If I can ever get the checkout cart to accept my order (been trying for two hours now), I’ll be sure to share my MovieBeam experiences.

  4. Sounds interesting… How long will the promotion last? It sounds interesting! I’ll be waiting for your review before I buy :).

  5. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…… Yeah..

  6. John Fassbender May 15, 2006 at 8:08 am

    This just seems silly to me. Why pay them money so you can only rent movies from them?

    There prices aren’t any cheaper than the rental store and in some cases higher.

    In my opinion, too much money for the convenience of not going to a video rental place.

    Now if they offered movies BEFORE they came out on DVD, that might be a different story.

  7. Dave,

    I’m sure that you could use your own HDMI/Toslink cables with the Moviebeam. But most of us don’t have that stuff lying around, so we’d still have to get that stuff from somewhere.

    My guess is that you could get those cables for about half of what Moviebeam charges, by going to monoprice.com. But that still makes it a $70 gadget, not a $50 gadget. For a lot of gadget freaks, that’s inconsequential – but not for a cheapskate like me.

    I guess the big reason why I don’t like this service is that it has failure written all over it. After you’ve seen enough weird consumer gadgets, you start getting a sense for the ones that have that “whiff of desperation” around them. To me, this is one of them.

  8. Michael, I’m with you both on monoprice.com as the place the get cables at a fair price and that MovieBeam will ultimately fail. There are just too many competing services out there that don’t require additional boxes and/or cash outlays.

    The video store is no longer an option for me… the crummy parking, out of stock movies, and long lines to pay the surly cashiers no longer interests me. Maybe you guys have better brick & mortar options in your area!

    Long term, I’m hopeful the Xbox 360 drops in price by about $100 (right around when the PS3 will debut for a million bucks) and offer movie downloads either on their own or with some partnered Movielink or Akimbo service. Lately, I have less hope of seeing such a service on TiVo as they move towards ad-based revenue. I’d like to be wrong on that one…

  9. i just recieved my moviebeam device and its amazing the sound and picture quality are top notch plus standard def movies are upconverted to hd for you !!!

  10. I have been using this service for 2 weeks now. Very convenient. Picture quality is good. Some people can never be satisfied. They want everything for free. Grow up. You get what you pay for!!!

  11. I’ve been pleasantly surprised as well. There are a few negatives, but overall it’s pretty neat (for $50 or less). I should have my review up in the next few days.

  12. Former Subscriber February 1, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    IMHO the convenience element is a positive, but the picture quality, lack of DVI support, and per movie charge seems to be a MAJOR consumer acceptance factor. Ours collected dust until we sold to a bidder on ebay.

    As for the company, the margin per rental is minute, with a lion’s share going to the studios. It will take another ice age before moviebeam recoups it’s investment capital. Oops, scratch that investors, they will never recoup. It’s a BUST.