The Redbox Instant video streaming service recently let eager users kick down the doors of its beta test, and now the team behind it has stepped out to talk about its unique feature set. While a public launch is still planned for Q1 (just as Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said last month) we've had a little time to spend with the beta on our own, and saw it running on several devices including iOS / Android and Samsung Blu-ray player in the company's hotel suite. New hardware partners announced during CES are Vizio, Google TV and LG, which should all see apps arrive soon to their assorted platforms.
Currently the mobile apps appear to be the most polished, however all ran smoothly and featured a look apart from the other subscription streaming services. Of course, some of that is a result of Redbox offering movies via kiosk rental, VOD rental / purchase or unlimited subscription. While each UI is a bit unique (predictably, the iOS app foregoes any purchase options due to Apple's insistence on a 30 percent cut) one way to keep track of how a particular movie is accessible are via several small icons in the corner of its box art, showing a kiosk for discs, play button for subscriptions, ticket for purchase, and so on. So far Redbox isn't playing in the picture quality wars, at the moment it's video maxes out at 720p and audio is stereo only, although it is looking to upgrade.
Shawn Strickland is the CEO of the joint venture and besides believing there's still a lot of potential left in discs (unlike his counterparts at Netflix) he reiterated the stance that Redbox Instant is all about movies, so don't expect to marathon many TV shows there. Another element separating Redbox Instant from the competition is its reliance on curated lists or collections that group similar movies for viewing based on the decisions of their editors. While there are suggestions based on algorithms, we saw packs of movies like "Queue the Bromance" pushed to the front. It's yet another way to battle the "is there anything worth watching?" issue, and once it launches in the next few months we'll be able to see what users prefer.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.