Technology
MAKE & CRAFT now has how-to videos @ SmartFlix!

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Big news for Makers! MAKE and CRAFT now offer hundreds of awesome How-To videos available as DVD rentals through a seamless interface with our good partner, SmartFlix. SmartFlix is a service that rents video DVDs – just like your corner video store (NetFlix, BlockBuster, etc) … but they rent how-to videos. Videos on running lathes, making glass beads, welding steel, oil painting, building guitars… A lot of our Makers use SmartFlix so we’re really happy to be part of this. Here are the two sites…

MAKE:
http://makezine.smartflix.com/

CRAFT:
http://craftzine.smartflix.com/

As you may have guessed, MAKE/CRAFT gets a % of each DVD rental we generate through the sites so if you’re going to rent from SmartFlix consider using the MAKE/CRAFT sites.

I’m using the service as a regular customer and will be reviewing a few of the DVDs as I rent them. The first one that I watched over the weekend was “Basic Electronics – Part 1: Direct Current”. Here’s the description: “Begin with the basics. In part 1, you begin by learning about voltage, current and resistance. Then you progress into series circuits, parallel circuits, Ohm’s law, power equations and much more. In a single afternoon you will find yourself drawing series-parallel circuits and calculating voltage drops and current flows in circuits you designed”.

Make 1130
Make 1131
Make 1132
It’s probably one of the few (and good) videos about something like this, it’s about 45 minutes long and uses what looks like Apple II graphics which are actually perfect for this subject matter. It’s not as good as a day long class or years of training of course, but it does a good job in a short amount of time of showing the basics. Keep in mind, this is sorta what I do on a Saturday night for fun, your fun may vary.

20 thoughts on “MAKE & CRAFT now has how-to videos @ SmartFlix!

  1. “Most videos are just $9.99 each (a few are more), per week.”

    Ouch :-/

    This site looks great! But I would have thought they would have gone with a more competitive pricing plan. I do realize this is a niche market, but even if they made it $9.99 for a one-at-a-time unlimited rentals per month plan (Netflix offers the same thing for $8.99) I think it would greatly increase the value of this service. Until they shift to something like that, I can’t see me spending $9.99 PER RENTAL unless I would only be renting a movie from then every now and then. But as the library grows I could see a larger grouping of MAKE style projects I’d want to try and at the current price offering that’d hit your wallet hard.

  2. I use smartflix. $10 bucks a rental is pretty terrible. On the rare occasion I bite the bullet and cough up the dough for videos on metal machining (milling machine). I don’t know if they have anything on lathes. I imagine that I would use them a whole lot more if they just cut the price in half. Great selection, insane pricing. The lowest prices they have are 9.95/week (9.99?) and it goes up from there depending on their cost for the DVD.

  3. Philip,
    When you review these videos, be sure to cite the original publisher, as you would with any review. One of the problems with SmartFlix is their Google ranking: if you search for a video on a subject, SmartFlix will PageRank higher than the original (usually starving) publisher. A publisher (name withheld) I work with saw his sales drop by about half after he sold a set of videos to SmartFlix. If you like a video, be sure to support your niche publisher with a direct purchase!

  4. Blanchardk, rdarlington:

    I agree, $9.99 for an instructional welding or lathe video is a bit steeper than $3.50 to rent Spiderman 2 at the corner video place, or via Netflix.

    Much of the cost of a video rental service is based on factors like depreciation and lossage of the videos. Your corner video store, and Netflix, rent out videos that have an average retail price of $15-20, and an average wholesale cost of $8-10.

    SmartFlix rents out videos that have an average retail costs of $50-100, and very few wholesale discounts are available.

    For example: a single video on vacuum infusion is over $100; a two part series on oil painting is about $150; a light aircraft instructional series is over $300, a six part series on movie camera movements costs over $500, and the “professional series” of videos on milling machines and lathes costs the same, etc. I could go on for hours recounting the surprisingly high prices of many of these titles, but you get the point.

    …and SmartFlix has invested about a million dollars in these sorts of how-to videos.

    We’re also proud to offer health care to all of our full time employees, and pay our fulfillment people double minimum wage…but, to be honest, neither of those factors influences the price nearly as much as the iron logic of raw-cost-and-depreciation.

    I’d argue that the question to ask yourself is “given the price of these videos, would I rather pay around $100 plus shipping to own just one video, or half that price [ and no shipping ] to rent a half dozen different videos, spread out over a year or more?”.

    SmartFlix has been growing rapidly in popularity over the last three years because all of our customers (a) know that other vendors do not offer these videos; (b) they prefer to get a bunch of rentals from us, instead of just one purchase from a specialty vendor, so in the rent-vs-buy decision, SmartFlix often wins.

    The service isn’t for everyone…but if you’re interested in our titles, give it a shot!

    Whether you decide to rent or not: best of luck with your ongoing education and projects!

  5. >>When you review these videos, be sure to cite the original publisher, as
    you would with any review

    it’s on the link, smarflix has the pub listed on the rental pages.

  6. >>I use smartflix. $10 bucks a rental is pretty terrible.

    keep in mind MAKE has a co-branded site with them and MAKE makes a % on the rentals with the co-branded site… i however do not get anything for saying whatever i want :)

    i spent about 4 hours with the dc current DVD, for that i’m willing to pay $2.50 per hour. that seems like a pretty reasonable fee for what i got.

  7. I honestly was very excited to see such a great service, I could spend so much time going through the blacksmithing videos! But then, as other readers have mentioned, I noticed the price.
    Even after reading the price justifications, I still probably wont take advantage of this service as it’s just too expensive. I’d rather pay a one time monthly fee (even more than $9.99/month), because I don’t want to rent just one video… Upon first glance there are at least 15 videos I would like to see. Not to mention the ever expanding list that I would love to share with people I know who would undoubtedly find this service just as exciting.

    Hopefully as the site grows they can afford to adjust their pricing plan, until then I likely wont be partaking in what seems to be a pretty great service. I’d be willing to bet that I’m not alone on this one either.

  8. otherguy and SmartFlix:

    I agree. Part of pricing a product or services is not only the cost to you (the seller) but pricing it competitively to make it attractive to would-be customers. That’s the balance every business has to worry about. I feel, based on comments on here and also others who have seen the site, that though they have high operating costs because of the cost of the media, they are alienating possible customers with their price plan. I was excited to see the site and what it had to offer. I shared the site with co-workers, geeks, friends and other DIY’ers across multiple email lists and forums I frequent. The resounding response from almost all of them was “cool site. I’d love to use them when there prices are more competitive”. I think my own opinion can be expressed that way too. I’d love to use their service but not with their current pricing. The content of the DVDs may cost more, but they have entered a market where consumers are used to paying $8.99 for “all you can eat” monthly DVD rental. I know I would use this quite a bit even at a little more than twice that price ($19.99) for a one title at a time, unlimited monthly rental. From a business standpoint I understand why the rental cost is more expensive, but since most consumers will look at it as a consumer, I would say the rental price is still priced higher than many people would want to spend on DIY DVD rental (for the frequent renter). It goes back to the balance of profit margins versus user base. Based on the 25-40 people I talked with over the past few days about the site on various email lists and forums, most said they would jump on this in a second once an unlimited monthly plan was available, assuming the cost was no more than $20-25 tops per month. I am sure I am not the only one who shared the site with others to be told similar responses. Food for thought for the SmartFlix group. As I said, not bashing the site itself. It’s a great site! Myself and others are just holding off using it, until a more appealing price plan is available.

  9. I signed up for SmartFlix’s University subscription, this is where you pay a set amount each month and you get to rent 3 DVDs each month.

    I was over charged the first month, and they did give me a refund for the overcharge after many emails. However, for the Goldsmithing and Silversmithing University they never got the service correct and never sent me the DVDs.

    I had to contact them each month to get the credit and for the four months this went on, they never sent the monthly DVDs.

    Their website states that they will contact you within 48 hours in response to your email. There is no way to contact them by phone. The responses were of the type: “My boss hasn’t gotten back with you yet?”

    There was no attempt at resolving issues, such as getting the DVDs sent out.

    Now, at one point they did give me a free month. But they didn’t send out the DVDs, so I’m a little confused as to what they were trying to accomplish.

    After four months and numerous emails of which most went unanswered, they finally came up with a solution. They cancelled my subscription and said they would give me a refund. No apology, no explanation as to why they didn’t send the DVDs.

    Interestingly enough, I did have another subscription, where after the initial problem of being overcharged, and having to send emails before they would send the DVDs. They got it worked out and it was running just fine. Now for the topper. They cancelled the working subscription as well as the one that they couldn’t get correct.

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