The DVD-rental machine, MediaVendor, arrived on campus yesterday, making its official debut North American debut.

Paul Wong
The MediaVendor DVD-rental machine in Pierpont Commons will carry as many as 1,200 DVDs.

A trial version exists at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a machine will also be placed in Lower Manhattan in the near future.

“I don’t think there’s really a place to rent videos out there, and I’m sure there is a demand for it with the students,” said Ann Arbor native Todd Kosta, president of DVD Enterprises, which will manage the machine. “There is going to be a couple thousand kids that are going to have access to a couple thousand DVDs and video games.”

Though it has the potential to hold up to 2,000 DVDs, Kosta said the machine’s initial selection will include between 900 and 1,200 DVDs and approximately 15 Play Station 2 video games. The open spaces will allow for new releases to be added to the machine periodically.

Kosta said the machine will charge students’ credit cards an introductory price of $1.99 for three days to rent the DVDs, but that the price will be re-evaluated in a couple months.

Several students living on North Campus said the vending machine is a much-needed addition to the area, considering the closest video store requires a half-mile walk up Murfin Avenue to Hollywood Video or further down Plymouth Road to Blockbuster Video.

“It’s a long walk,” Engineering freshman Alicia Bidwell said.

But they said they didn’t know whether the machine would necessarily be a hit.

“It depends on the variety. It’s so convenient for people who live up here and don’t have cars, like me,” Engineering freshman Julie Rotramel said.

Kosta said he personally selected all the titles available in the machine and that he worked hard to pick out movies he felt students would enjoy.

New releases include everything from “Insomnia” to “Sorority Boys.”

The machine also offers several older, foreign and obscure movies, such as “Beijing Bicycle,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Taxi Driver,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Annie Hall,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.”

“We’ve put a lot of foreign titles in, a lot of hard-to-find videos, quarky documentaries, alternative titles, stuff that students will enjoy. A lot of stand-up comedians, Saturday Night Live, the Best of Adam Sandler, stuff like that,” said Kosta, who owns a video store in New Jersey. “I’ve just been going on what I see students rent.”

Students wondering exactly what titles are available will soon be able to check out www.mediavendor.com for listings, though it was not available yesterday.

They can also request titles through the site.

The machine operates through a robotic arm that sorts and selects the DVDs and games. It is also connected to a modem, and it can reboot itself and page a technician if it breaks down.

But Kosta said that he’s pretty sure the MediaVendor, which has been popular in Europe for years, will take off around Michigan and the rest of the country soon.

“If it works, which it has, I think it will catch like hotcakes,” he said.

The machine will be available to students beginning Monday, and several said they are waiting to check it out.

“I’m curious. We never knew what they were building there. We thought they were expanding the copy center or lounge or something,” said Engineering junior Paul Johnson, who works in Pierpont Commons with Engineering junior Kim Lemieux.

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