How Never to Pay a Late Fee Again

DEMYSTIFYER DVD RENTALS

In the five years since Netflix launched its pioneering Web-based DVD-by-mail service, thousands of us have discovered that renting movies doesn't have to mean exorbitant late fees. Netflix, which allows users to keep DVDs as long as they want and return them in prepaid mailers, has 742,000 members and has spawned a cadre of copycats, like NumberSlate, CafeDVD and GreenCine. Even Wal-Mart and Blockbuster (in-store) have warmed to monthly subscription models. Here's a primer on the major programs. --S.S.

Netflix netflix.com

Cost: From $19.95 monthly for three DVDs to $39.95 for eight

Selection: 12,500 titles....

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