Smartflix is good at what they say they do, stocking many videos and DVDs on arts and crafts and and DIYers. These are not the kind of DVDs your corner video shop stocks, or even the big guys like Netflix and Blockbuster--they're just too niche, and some specialized titles often cost $60-$100. Smartflix fills that niche.
They supply DVDs on things like running lathes, making glass beads, welding steel, oil painting, building guitars, cool stuff! SmartFlix began serving hobbyists and hardware hackers in early 2003 out of Arlington Massachusetts (so best delivery times are in the Northeast, but they'll ship anywhere in the US), and has been growing explosively since then. Travis Corcoran is founder and president, who started Technical Video Rental (now Smartflix) because he wanted a low cost way to learn about his Sherline lathe.
SmartFlix runs entirely on open source software: using Apache, Linux, PERL, mySQL, emacs,etc. That said, the system is simple and works well. Their search engine is effective, and browsing is a breeze with their 30 genres are things like Academic, Aircraft Piloting, Boating, Culinary, Metalworking, Woodworking, etc. The information on each title is a bit sparse in that there aren't lots of ratings, running times, stars, etc., but they do have a picture and generally a lengthy narrative description of each--certainly enough to make your mind up. There's often customer comments as well for a third-party sense of the video.
SmartFlix note that some of the discs they rent are DVD+/-R's, but these are not illegal copies; many of the how to DVDs are made by small, home-based companies, and sometimes home-label their discs. Again, these are things you'd never find on Netflix, so the benefit is the consumer's.
Prices: Smartflix do not offer unlimited DVD rentals, they work on a pay per rent basis, with most titles costing a flat $9.99 to rent for a week. This is a pity, as we'd imagine there would be some demand for a capped 2 or 4 per month plan with some economies of scale. But that said, this is a unique resource, even at the rather hefty 10 bucks per rental.