I haven’t done much travelling since getting my Surface RT, but this weekend I had a pair of good, long flights. I decided to occupy myself with movie rentals from the Surface/Xbox video app. I can’t really articulate why, but I’ve been hesitant to rent movies to watch on devices in the past. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t I didn’t have a good device for viewing. Regardless, I decided to give it a shot, and I’m pretty happy with the result.
What I Liked
My actual viewing experience on the plane was awesome. The picture was great, and I had an okay pair of noise-cancelling headphones that did an admirable job of drowning out the sounds around me. (Other co-workers on the flight were complaining about a screaming kid that I was completely unaware of.)
I rented two movies, one for $4.99 and one for $5.49. Five bucks seems like a reasonable price for relatively new releases, so I was happy with that, too. I also liked that I was given a rental period of 5 days or 24/48 hours after viewing began. That allowed me to download the movies to my device well ahead of time so they could be ready and available when I needed them on my flights.
What I Didn’t Like
My only complaints are ones not actually related to the device. When you go to rent a movie through the Xbox video store, you’re presented with 4 options and 4 costs: HD streaming, HD download, SD streaming, and SD download. I’d rather have just two choices (HD and SD) and be given the option to stream or download based on my situational needs, which may change. For example, maybe I’d like to re-watch a previously downloaded movie that’s been deleted via streaming. Regardless, I needed one of the download options since I was planning on watching from a plane, and I opted for HD. At some point, I’ll probably try an SD download just to see what the quality difference looks like. I suspect I’d be happy with SD but didn’t want to regret not spending the extra $1. I have the 32 GB Surface with approximately 10 GB of free space available. Downloading an HD rental for offline viewing takes up about 7 GB, so I can really only have one movie at a time. So HD vs. SD is more about the download time and disk space than saving money. I should probably just pick up a MicroSD card, though.