The mobile entertainment segment in India has been growing, and the latest addition is Google Play Movies. Giants like Apple (iTunes Movies or Films) and Google are offering movies for rent and purchase, giving a boost to the entertainment-on-the-go experience in India. Besides these, we also have some local players striving for a similar experience; one such renowned service is BIGFlix. Although BIGFlix doesn't let you buy movies, it offers affordable rental plans. We have decided to look into each of these services to find out which one is more suitable for a movie buff.
Design and interface
BIGFlix has a neat and straightforward interface—all you need to do is register to the site and choose a plan. As soon you log into the service, you will find movies being made available in several local languages. You can further filter these movies by their release dates and genre. BIGFlix shows the recently added movies right on top, and below that you will find the Continue Watching section. Here you have options to resume watching the movie or remove it out completely.
Google Play Movies also has a simple and neat layout, but doesn't guide you well in navigation. Once you are in Google Play, the Movies option will be right there along with Android apps and Google Books. The interface is limited to five categories where all the movies are crammed up. Sadly, the biggest search engine hasn't added any filters whatsoever, and you will have to sift through lists of movies in each category. While we like that Google offers SD as well as HD movies to rent and buy, it doesn't clearly mention whether the movie is in HD or SD option, unless you click on the price. Only when you click on the price will it show the pricing for renting and buying the movies in SD or HD resolution. Apart from this, you will find all the basic information about the movie like release year, run time, synopsis and so on.
Focusing on content in several Indian languages
The iTunes Movies interface is quite neat, and Apple has added all the essential filters to simplify movie searches. Just like BIGFlix, iTunes has efficiently categorised its content. You can sort movies by name, release date, bestsellers and according to the several categories like Action, Comedy and so on. In fact, there is a separate section called Indian Cinema for Bollywood fans. It gives all the necessary information about the movie, and there is a neat button that lets you opt for SD or HD film quality.
BIGFlix focuses more on local content and has movies in several Indian as well as international languages. You will find a number of movies in languages including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam and more. Besides, there are a decent number of English movies and a few in international languages including French, Spanish , Romanian and more. However, these movies are available only in the standard definition (including some fairly new releases). There is no HD content, and if you are all about watching movies in HD, then you’d be disappointed. Moreover, BIGFlix isn't quite alluring when it comes to movies, as a lot of popular and old (leave alone new) movies have been given a miss.
Google Play Movies is dominated by English movies, with just a handful of Bollywood flicks. Moreover, these handful of movies are haphazardly placed. You will find categories like Top selling and New Releases, but they aren't of much use. Google Play Movies has a much better list of recent movies compared to BIGFlix, though limited to English. The handful of Hindi flicks are decent too. These movies can be purchased in standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) quality depending upon the availability. However, nowhere it mentions whether it's 720p or 1080p.
iTunes Films showing peppy Bollywood flicks
iTunes Films has limited yet a decent collection of movies, both Hindi and English. However, several movies listed aren’t available for the Indian store yet, such as Life of Pi and Finding Nemo, to name a few. Here too, you have a choice of SD and HD quality print depending upon the availability. And while purchasing a movie, if you look into its details, it will clearly display 720p or 1080p content quality.
BIGFlix is about watching full length movies online or through several platforms by streaming them. So, one will always have to be connected to the Internet to watch a movie on BIGFlix as there is no offline viewing option. This means streaming the movie onto your smartphone will cost you depending upon the mobile data plans you are using,, unless you are looking to watch movie on your PC. Unlike Google Play or iTunes, there is no option to buy a movie. However, after subscribing to their plans, you can watch all the movies available on BIGFlix for the stipulated period (one, three or five months). There is no limitation on the number of movies or how many times you want to watch a movie, which is really cool. The Continue Watching section has all the movies that you have tried watching/watched. Here you can resume watching any movie from exactly the point you left it, irrespective of the device or platform you watched it on last. There is another feature called Queue, which lets you make a playlist of all the movies you want to watch. A feature called Collections helps discover new and interesting content.
Google Play lets you rent as well as Buy movies in SD or HD quality. However, there are certain exceptions as some relatively new movies are available to rent but not for purchase while some others can be bought but not rented. It comes with an offline mode feature, so you can download the movie onto your Android device from the Google Play Movies app and watch it without an Internet connection. However, you will have to download or pin it again on another device, which is time consuming and may cost you depending on your data charges. You can even watch the downloaded movie on your HDTV using a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable or an MHL adapter and HDMI cable, depending on your device. Just like BIGFlix, it lets you resume watching the movie exactly from the point you left it.
Available to rent and/or buy in SD and HD quality
iTunes Films section lets you rent or buy Movies just like Google Play Movies. It has very well categorised sections and you can use filters to quickly get to the type or kind of movie you are looking for. Just like Play Movies, some movies are available only for rent or only for purchase. iTunes Films also offers an offline viewing feature, so that you can watch it anytime later without Internet connection. On downloading a rented movie on your computer, you can transfer it to other select Apple devices. And once you move the movie from your computer to a device, the movie will disappear from your computer's iTunes library. You can move the movie between devices as many times as you wish during the rental period, but the movie can only exist on one device at a time.However, if you download a rented movie on your iPhone 4 or later, iPad, iPod touch (4th generation or later), or Apple TV, then it is not transferable to any other device or computer.
Apps and platform
BIGFlix has a versatile compatibility; it can be accessed on web or as an app through popular mobile platforms, namely, Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone. The BIGFlix app is as neat and concise as its web version. Once users register and choose the plan, they can access movies using the account through any of these device platforms. Moreover, you can even resume watching movies right from where you left them, through any of these platforms.
Google has launched Play Movies and TV Shows app, but only the Movies part is made available in India. The interface is basic and simple (limited to the five categories, sections showing top selling movies, featured movies and so on), but doesn't bring even a smidgen of convenience due to lack of filters. Movies that you’ve rented or bought are stored in the “My Movies” section. As long as you login using the same account, you can access these movies from any Android smartphone or tablet as well as web. Here too, the movie resumes right from where you left watching it last, irrespective of the device you were using.
My Movies shows your rentals
iTunes Films interface is lucid, bringing to you the new and noteworthy films right there. Keeping Indian audiences in mind, the app also clearly distinguishes Indian Cinema with a section with the same name. Besides, you can search for movies that are available only for rent, available only in HD quality or fall into a specific decade. You can watch movies on your Mac or PC with iTunes. Needless to say, you can also watch movies on your iPhone, iPad, select iPods and Apple TV connected to a TV.
BIGFlix lets you rent movies; in fact, you can watch all the movies from its collection by opting for plans ranging from its 7-day trial plan to super saver 6 months subscription plan. The 7-day trial plan is available for Rs 99, one month popular plan for Rs 249, 3 months economy plan for Rs 599 and six months super saver plan costs Rs 999.
Google Play Movies lets you rent or buy movies, available at a starting price of Rs 50 and goes as high as Rs 650. Renting a fairly decent movie in SD or HD on Google Play Movies will cost something between Rs 80 to Rs 200. For instance, you can rent Premium Rush for Rs 120 in SD and Rs 150 in HD. The same movies, you can purchase for Rs 190 in SD and Rs 490 in HD quality. Renting a movie comes with 30 days of rental period, which means we can watch the movie anytime within the next 30 days. However, it comes with an active rental period of 48 hours, which means once you start watching or downloading the movie, you have access to the movie for the next 48 hours only. The price for renting the movie comes across as slightly expensive, considering the 48 hours active time period. Moreover, you may have to pay additional charges for streaming it, depending on your data charges.
Renting or buying a movie from iTunes store is similar to Google Play Movies. The rental price is also almost similar to Google Play Movies. However, the purchase price varies slightly. For instance, Here Comes the Boom in SD is available for rent at Rs 120 and for purchase at Rs 390. In HD quality, the same movie is available for rent and purchase at Rs 150 and Rs 650 respectively. Other conditions also remain the same, like one will have 30 days from the time of rental to watch the movie, but only 48 hours from the time you start downloading it.
BIGFlix and iTunes Films have neat and straightforward interfaces compared to Google Movies. Google Play Movies highly disappoints as it comes with absolutely no means to sort the movies. Though BIGFlix offers Indian movie content on a larger spectrum, we think all three services need to work at offering better and popular movies. Maybe with time, a larger movie library could prove to be really handy. We think iTunes and Google Play Movies have relatively new and popular movies, whereas BIGFlix lacks HD content and several popular titles and one cannot buy or download the movies (it only streams content). However, it offers broader compatibility with several platforms. Finally, taking the pricing into account, some movies are well-priced on both iTunes Films and Google Play while some rentals are a rip-off considering the 48 hours active period. BIGFlix doesn't allow single movie rentals and offers its complete list based on monthly plans.
In a nutshell, if you are a movie buff and love watching movies everyday, then BIGFlix could be an affordable option, that is, if you happen to like the list of movies they offer. However, it doesn't seem like a viable mobile option if you are not on Wi-Fi and prefer watching movies on the go (unless you have a great data plan). iTunes and Google Play are great if you want to watch a one-off movie or love watching flicks on-the-go.
Cover image: Harshad Gujare
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