Have you ever wondered how on earth rent-by-mail DVDs manage to get so scratched up? Take a close look at the photo above, from Boston.com, and notice how carefully a gloved Netflix employee is scratching up a DVD so it has that "used" appearance we've all come to know and love. Isn't that considerate of them?

Bad jokes aside, the gallery of images below provides a behind-the-scenes look at "an unmarked warehouse" in Northborough, Massachusetts, where about 50 Netflix employees "sort through and repackage more than 60,000 discs every day." To be fair, it's the customers who manage to scratch up DVDs, and Netflix appears to make a good-faith effort to discard DVDs that have become unplayable -- at least to the extent they can, since they're sorting them at the rate of 500-700 per hour.

Netflix angered some customers this week with the announcement that it would be increasing the $1.00 per month surcharge for Blu-ray customers, which was just added last fall. They explained in an e-mail that they had "increased significantly" the number of Blu-ray titles they stocked, and "as you've probably heard, Blu-ray discs are substantially more expensive than standard-definition DVDs." How big an increase depends on how you look at it: Information Week described it as a "300% increase," since the surcharge would increase from $1.00 to $4.00 for customers on the "three disks at a time" monthly plan. Overall, the same plan would cost 24% more per month.

I don't have Blu-ray capability (it's a long, sad story), so I'm wondering what your experiences have been renting Blu-rays, either online or in person. Completely satisfactory? Are you downloading / streaming more movies to watch on your computer or TV? Or do you prefer to buy your DVDs and Blu-rays?

categories Features, Cinematical