Zediva is a new service that allows renters to play the newest DVDs over the Internet, watching on several compatible devices. The service “rents” users a DVD player and DVD on their end and streams the output to you and your device. I’ve just tried it. I am impressed!

First, wrap your head around how it works to understand how the service gets around the normal delays other services encounter when a new DVD is released. The others may be required to observe a window of time during which the purchased DVD is the only means of watching the movie.  At the end of the window’s timing, according to Zediva, the others, principally services including Netflix and Redbox, can rent out the movie and may have a license to stream it to users.

It is as if Zediva has bought the movie, as you could, as soon as it is available to consumers, and then makes it available to you.  This IS how it works, but how they get it to you is inventive and clever.  They have loads of real DVD players in their arsenal. When account holders select the movie at the company Website and click to rent it, the service racks up the DVD in a DVD player on their end and then “plays” it to and for you wherever you happen to be.  This is accomplished through your Windows or Mac computer and on devices with Android 2.1 or greater.

This means users will likely watch on their computer screens or Android-based mobile devices.  OR, users can watch via their flat panel TV through computers connected to said TVs.  In my case, I found it a perfect use for Logitech Revue with Google TV, since this device is connected to my TV and it is Android-powered.  It just has to be a Flash-based browser.  This means iPhones are not currently compatible.  When and if the company decides to make their output compatible with a newer and more modern technology called HTML5, users can watch on any iOS-based device. Translated – iPhone and iPad. Apple mobile devices have never had Flash capability, as the company says Flash is too resource-hungry to provide users with an excellent experience all the time as compared with HTML5.

No, there is no capability to stream Blu-ray movies, at least not yet.  Still, in my trials, the TVs upscaling capability (a Pioneer Kuro plasma set, still the best around in my view) provided a very nice picture in this long-distance viewing scheme.

Controls are simple, with play and pause the same clickable spot, changing from one to the other when clicked.  There is an icon to take the picture full screen and back as well as one to engage subtitles and alternate languages as my be available, which I did not use. Nor did I use the Closed Captioning capability, a function that must be on the DVD.  All of the features must be on the DVD itself, as anyone would find had they the DVD in their hot little hands and played on their own DVD player connected to the TV. Another clickable returns the DVD when users are finished.  The DVD’s menu is also available to allow for playing special features on the DVD, such as commentary from the director. Operation is simple.  I found that I had to increase the volume while watching a movie, but I see this as no big deal and may not be the case with other users and on other devices for a variety of reasons.

When paused, a message appears indicating that after 60 minutes, and respecting that others may be waiting for the machine, if not the video, the movie is stopped and can be restarted within 14 days. That is the “rental” period.  Everyone will like the simplicity!

Not everyone will like that only standard DVDs are currently available.  Still, the picture was nearly as good streaming as I see of locally played standard DVDs.

I did not try the service using any other method.  It either works, or it does not. Another benefit in my case is that my Internet, through Verizon’s industry-leading FiOS is exceptional, with download speeds of more than 30Mbps.  There were no interruptions during playback.

I’d have thought that the rather anemic netbook-like processor in my Google TV box would have caused at least minor hiccups, but that was not the case.

The cost?  Rent movies for streaming individually for $1.99 or buy a movie 10-pack for $10. That’s it.  Zediva also has a DVDs by mail service, but this seems not the most attractive way to watch, what with the other services that excel at this.  Additional costs will be incurred to rent by mail, though details are not yet specified.

Payment is through PayPal or using a debit/credit card and there is no credit card required to sign up. Payment is currently on a per-use basis.

Signups are currently closed while the company ramps up for business with the expected masses.  This should change in short order.

Questions?  Have a look at their FAQ page.

There are other ins and outs of the service, but I’ve given most of you all you need. Now, it is up to you to decide if it has piqued your interest enough to have a look and to sign up to try it.  I say, why not!

My experience with Zediva has been altogether satisfying.

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