AEBN Video On Demand (2)
Current Member for over 1 month (at the time of review).
||-Huge movie selection
-Multiple payment options (ppm, buy/rent movies, channels)
-Fewer premium titles than competitors
-Good search function
||-Inconsistent scene tags (especially actors)
-No Flash Player (WMP and Silverlight only)
-Videos take longer to load
-Can be more expensive if watching lots of content (and no giveaway minutes)
||No site exists in a vacuum. All sites are (and should be) compared to the similar to themselves, to see what works, what doesn't, and what they could do better. While pay-per-minute sites aren't that prevalent, there are a few out there that seem to be doing well, and it's good as a consumer to compare them to each other to see which ones are more worthy of your time. This is why I started looking at AEBN after joining another PPM site, but it means that my opinions on this site are generally in comparison to another site.
The selection here is huge. Definitely bigger than any other site I've been to, and it's not even close. They have movies from every era, and from the huge feature companies all the way down to the small operations with a camera in someone's bedroom. From looking through their selection, I get the impression that if you're looking for something or someone and it was ever even mildly popular, you'll find it here. I've definitely found DVDs on this site that I haven't seen anywhere else that are made by other companies. And they even have a little of their own truly 'exclusive' content, which you won't find anywhere else (though I have found that not all the content marked as exclusive is actually exclusive). Also, from the browsing that I've done, they have less premium titles (ones that cost more than one minute per minute of viewing) than other sites, and some videos that are premium in other places aren't premium here.
Finding the specific content you want is relatively easy, but it could be easier. The search function is good, and returns not only actor and title matches, but studio matches as well. They also make it easy to browse all the movies in a series (i.e. Barely Legal), which can come in handy when you find one that you like. Tag searching works, but doesn't look very organized. My biggest gripe is that while they do a good job of listing all the actors in a movie, even though they separate the movie into different scenes, many (but not all) of the separate scenes don't have the actors tagged, so you may have watch a little of the movie to make sure that the scene you're about to watch actually features the actress you're looking for. Thankfully, they provide a short free preview for each scene so that you don't have to spend your minutes doing this, but it would be much easier if they just named the actors in each scene on the page.
The movie player works well enough, but I feel like it could definitely be improved. They offer the option of using Silverlight or Windows Media Player, and while both work well enough, I feel like it's strange that they don't have the option of using a Flash player when other sites do, and not everyone is going to have Silverlight installed. The Silverlight player works decently well enough, though it does take a while to get started, and if you pause, you have to wait for a few seconds for the video to buffer before it will start again. They have multiple bitrate choices (including the ability to watch some scenes in HD), but the highest options still don't match the quality of a high definition downloaded file.
The payment options are generally the same as the other PPM sites that I've been to, with one twist. You have the ability to pay for minutes to watch content, and you can also buy specific movies for rental or lifetime ownership. I got 30 free minutes when I signed up for the site, but so far I have found no way to add minutes without paying for them, so you'll have to start using your own money pretty quickly. They also seem to be introducing "channels", which allow you to pay a monthly fee and have unlimited access to that channel's content. Right now there are three available, two being from specific studios (Vivid and West Coast Productions), with the third being a "super pass" that, while it features a lot of movies, most of them seem to come from lower-tier DVD companies, with very little content that I had heard of before. The idea of channels does seem interesting, especially if they can get more companies signed up to offer their content through them.
I've stated before that I basically use pay-per-minute sites as something to let me preview things that I haven't seen before, to decide if I want to spend my money on them. And while AEBN does this as well as anyone else, they also cost more than anyone else to let me do so. If you're looking for/at the content here that you can't find anywhere else, it is definitely worth it, and if they can get more companies on board with having their own channels, it becomes an interesting alternative to signing up for that companies pay site (especially if the company has their own underdeveloped or difficult to use pay site instead). But, as good as it is, it still isn't my preferred pay-per-minute site.
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