SmartFlix

SmartFlix will rent you nearly four thousand How-To DVDs in English. Subjects range from construction techniques (tile laying, cabinet making, timber framing), outdoor activities (kayaking, archery), and self-help, to such specialties as welding, lock-picking, and primitive fire-making.

The quality of the instruction varies tremendously. Some DVDs are smart and effective, some aren’t. Some are old, some brand new. All come from various publishers. The SmartFlix site smartly provides customer reviews (although not all DVDs have reviews). I have found the reviews tend to be generous; I mentally deduct one star from the ratings.

It’s amazing what you can learn from how-to books and videos. Most of my livelihood skills I learned this way, out of school and without teachers. A great book or video can equal, or at least compliment, an okay teacher. Through years of watching instructional videos, I’ve found I need to view them more than once. First I watch before I do anything; then I review parts in the midst of doing; and lastly I watch it again after I’m done, when I finally understand what they were trying to say. You to rent these videos for one week (it should be longer).

Renting these DVDs is not as cheap as using Netflix, but they are nearly as handy with their postage-paid mail-back carton and clear website. The cost is $10 per rental for a week, which works out to about half or a third or more of what buying them would be. None of these how-to’s are available on Netflix, and no where else are they gathered together with such easy search, ordering, and evaluation.

SmartFlix was formerly known as Technical Video Rental; they are currently selling off all their video tapes and only rent DVDs now. The site and service is still young. As more members rent and review these very specialized factual films, this service will increase in value.

– KK

SmartFlix
$10 per film
Available from SmartFlix