RokuGuide Review: On one end of the film spectrum we have Popcornflix, dedicated to mindless movies straight out of the discount DVD bin. At the other end, we have Fandor, where a professional curator selects films of artistic or historic merit. If you're a fan of indie film festivals, you will likely be a fan of Fandor.
Fandor launched on the Internet in March 2011 with 2,500 titles and billed itself as "the Netflix of independent films". Reports at the time heralded the social networking aspects of Fandor, which was to use Facebook as a way to spread the work about great indie films. Fandor does, in fact, have a nice Facebook app. Once you're logged into the Fandor website you can sync with your Facebook account. While watching a movie on the website, click a "share clip" button in the player, drag the slider to select a 60-second clip, and that clip will be shared on your Facebook wall.
That functionality is, of course, absent on the Fandor's Roku channel, as are any other social networking capabilities. What you will find on the Fandor channel are over 2,500 films in the following genres:
A nice feature is the ability to add films to a queue, and there is also a "watched" category that shows the films you've already seen. These are somewhat inconvenient, though, because a film is removed from your queue even if you've watched only a few seconds of it. If you interrupt your viewing and leave the channel, you will have to look for it in your watched queue. And if you like to sample a lot of films before settling on one to watch through to the end, you'll find your watched list overflowing with every one of the sampled films.
The other thing I found annoying is that it takes a long time for more than 2,500 thumbnails to load into the main screen. Scrolling down to the lower genres will entail a wait while the thumbs load, and a movie doesn't seem to load until all the thumbs have loaded.
Still, those are just minor irritations and certainly not a reason to use Fandor, and it's still better than the Amazon Video on Demand interface.
You will have to register for an account before watching any films, but you can sign up for a free trial from your Roku just by entering your e-mail address after selecting a movie to watch. You will have instant access to the full film library, and the free trial will be extended to a week after visiting a link in an e-mail that will be sent by Fandor.
For a longer two-week free trial, go straight to the Fandor website and sign up. You'll need to provide your credit card information and cancel before the trial is up to avoid charges if you decide not to subscribe. But if you're a fan of independent, historic, and art films, two weeks won't be nearly enough time to enjoy even a fraction of what Fandor has to offer.
Developer's Channel Description: Fandor is an on-demand subscription service featuring professionally curated independent, international, narrative and documentary films. Discover thought-provoking, unexpected and entertaining movies right on your TV.
CHANNEL STORE CATEGORY: Movies & TV
$10 monthly subscription, subscribe through the Fandor website.
One-week free trial if you register through the Roku channel.
Two-week free trial if you register through the Fandor website and provide credit card information for automatic billing.