I do a lot of baking and so like to have something to watch in the background, having used NOWTV for a month free trial I was not so impressed so decided to try Netflix.
What is Netflix?
It is an online version of the old school Blockbusters. You pay one monthly fee and it gives you unlimited access to their range of viewing materials.
Why is it Good?
One of the advantages of Netflix over other providers such as NOWTV is that there are movies and TV series included. One fee covers them all.
Another advantage I have found is that Tv series for example are all grouped together, when one episode finishes the subsequent one starts. This means you don't need to keep searching for episodes. It also means when your having a film fest you can just sit back and watch.
The third advantage is that there really is a wide range of both TV series' and movies to suit all ages, of all genres. Again in the past I found the repertoire to be quite restrictive.
The fourth advantage is that when you stop viewing of a program, when you come back to the program it picks up from where it was left.
The fifth advantage is that NETFLIX is accessible from different types of media
The first is that there isn't a lot of new releases in either Tv programmes or movies
The second is that that with some completed series', Ashes to Ashes for example, there is only series one available, and not the remaining two series'
The third is that the site isn't as well organized as it could be
Overall however, it is well worth the fee. It's a monthly fee, no long subscriptions, and is quite good value for money. Overall I'd recommend it.
We have been using Netflix for some time now, and have loved every minute of it! Reed Hastings and fellow software executive Marc Randolph co-found Netflix to offer online movie rentals in 1997, so the company has currently been running for over 17 years now and in that time has only gone on to improve the service that they offer.
The postal service was among the first introduced by Netflix, which is where you would choose the movie that you wanted to watch, they would post you it for you to watch, and you would send it back, but i found this to be a really slow way of using the service as the process would take a week each. You were initially charged per movie that you rented, but to watch a few could turn out quite expensive, so Netflix introduced a subscription service in 1999, where you could rent unlimited movies for one monthly cost.
Since then, Netflix have started online streaming, where you can choose the movie that you want to watch on the Netflix website, and watch it directly on your computer. We opt to use the Netflix app on our Xbox, as it tends to be easier for us, but we do occasionally use the website to watch our films too! We only pay £5.99 a month for our service, which I think is really cheap, especially considering we can watch as many films as we want to, whenever we want to.
The film range Netflix offer is huge. They have thousands of films to choose from, and have started offering popular TV shows too, which include Misfits, Heroes and American Horror story. I love the range that Netflix offers, and can always find something to watch, which is a lot cheaper than it would be to buy all the same films on DVD or BLU-RAY.
The Netflix website is really easily to navigate, which is very important for most people. It has a search bar at the top of the page so you can search for your favorite movies, or use the handy tabs to search genres of movies, to try and find a new film. i think that the website has been really well thought out, and looks really good too.
For those who have not tried out Netflix before, I would recommend that you try it out, the first month with the service is free, so you can try the service out, but the chances are you will love it just as much as we do. The film range is updated all the time, so there is usually something new to watch which is always great for our movie nights!
Love Love Love it! There is nothing more to say other than it awesome and I LOVE it! there are so many movies, shows, stand ups, documentaries, etc. to choose from. You will never get tired of it, they are constantly adding new movies and series. I also love how affordable it is! you cant go wrong! Honestly i don''t even need cable.
I''ve had Netflix a while now, I honestly have been meaning to cancel it for ages but just as I''m about to cancel i seem to find another TV series that I want to watch. The great thing about Netflix is it''s easy enough to cancel and re-subscribe whenever you like, so if you run out of things to watch you could cancel, leave it a few months then sign back up when more films/tv shows have been added. Don''t get me wrong, there isn''t a shortage of things to watch on Netflix, with films arranged by genre and type and suggestions as to what type of shows you might like, running out of things to watch isn''t usually a problem, the problem is usually deciding which one of them to watch.
At it''s current price I think it is well worth the money, especially if like me you are a bit of a film addict, which also saves on storage space for DVDS, just watch them again and again online instead.
A particularly useful tool for me is the ability to search for shows by actors or actresses featured in them, we all have our favorites so being able to search for any shows featured on the website that they are featured in is a real time saver that means you no longer have to search for films title by title until you find one that you want to watch.
You can also set up multiple profiles which means you no longer have the kids or husbands favorite shows suggested in ''what to watch'' you can each have your own profile which is set up to remember the type of things that you yourself like to watch.
Having previously had a Love Film membership (before streaming began) I thought I had had my fill of additional programming and films. I found that the delivery of films and TV was far too reliant on my remembering to re-post DVD's in order to receive the next thing on my order list and I rarely got what I wanted as I wanted to latest thing! Before I truly launch into my review, I would like to say that I live my life vegetating on the sofa in front of the TV all day; I'm a busy teacher most of the time so on my down time I like to crash and relax in front of the TV and indulge in some non-taxing, most-fanciful, loaded with eye-candy American trash TV! Hmmmm!
When Netflix was first advertised, and admittedly when I first started using it, I didn't think much of it. Admittedly, there were a lot of nostalgic programmes and films from my childhood suddenly accessible to me but at first I didn't think much of Netflix, although I enjoyed the ability to stream directly onto my laptop and SMART TV. No more strolling to the post box; far too much movement for me!
Now, however, since it has become increasingly popular, Netflix has had an influx of fairly decent programming and I have become massively more impressed by the service.
If you are new to Netflix, then keep an eye out for 1 month free offers directly on their website. During the sign up process you will have to type in your card info but if you cancel at the correct time then you aren't tied into anything. Even if you decide to pay for a while, there is no fixed-term membership; just quit when you want...if you want!
Once in, you can access your account from any computer, stream it via your SMART TV, Apple TV and even through your Nintendo Wii which is a fairly recent development. You can also add additional users onto the account which allows 2-3 people to stream on your account at the same time, and under their usernames, quick access to their favourite programmes and recommendations tailored from considering the viewing choices you have made i.e. If you've watched a Horror film, then other popular Horror recommendations will be made.
What I have come to love about Netflix, is that it's so easy to access. I am a Media and Film studies teacher and the ease with which I can access films and TV programmes for demonstration purposes has really moved my teaching forward. I can quickly and instantly begin viewing something with very few occasions that I can recall that I haven't been able to get it working.
My partner and I are media junkies; we consume different TV series' at a rapid, alarming and most probably unhealthy rate. Every night we watch Netflix; we are not committed to the regular TV schedule. instead we've watched back-to-back episodes of Dexter (now completed I'd like to add!), currently inhaling episodes of 'Once Upon A Time' and patiently await the next series of 'Vampire Diaries'.
What I would say, as a criticism is, evidently my partner and I are mostly interested in American programming. I don't think UK customers get the full package that the company have to offer, evident from the fact that there is a wide array of more current material if you are a USA based customer. This has evidently been an issue for many people, hence there are ways of 'tricking' your account in to believing you are in the US when you log in, as logging in is country specific. If you are on a US internet connection, when you are on holiday for example, your Netflix gives you access to the USA's content which is more extensive and, in my opinion, so much better!
Overall though, my Netflix account has enriched my television viewing and I look forward to its development. Fingers crossed that there will be a merger or agreement with HBO as this will release the likes of Game of Thrones and True Blood, giving me ever the more reason to crash in front of the SMART TV from Monday through to Sunday every night!
I first came across netflix when i got my tivo box from virgin media, i was browsing through the apps and they offered a free 1 month trial then £6 a month after if you liked it, i decided to try the 1 month trial. It has lots of movies and every category you can think off, the only problem i found is most the movies on it are low rate movies you've either never heard of or are just not that good and are badly made. The good thing i found was they have a kids section with lots of different animated programs and movie to choose from and they absolutely love it its worth keeping even if its just for the kids to watch. Not many Disney movies available as i said mainly low rate stuff is placed on here but you get what u pay for i i guess at £6 a month.
I was only introduced to Netflix in July this year when I met my boyfriend.
Prior to this I was with LoveFILM. I Originally signed up with them on a 3 months for £10 groupon deal but then I just never cancelled. My subscription went up to around £13 a month and for that I could have 2 discs at Homs at any time and stream as much as I wanted from LoveFILM instant (online)
My problem with the LoveFILM service was that I like to play on my laptop while I watch tv and films and so I didn't want to use my laptop to watch films. As such, I never used the streaming facility and after about 2 months the novelty of being sent mystery films through the post wore off.
I found that I would not fancy watching the film that I had been sent and so would put it to one side until I WAS in the mood. Often for weeks at a time.
So when my boyfriend moved in and brought his netflix account with him, I decided I didn't need LoveFILM and cancelled.
He has netflix wired through his playstation which is always rigged up to the tv so I do not have to faff about with leads or plugging it on or anything like that. Which is good as I probably just wouldn't bother if I did!
We pay £6 per month for Netflix and it is a disc free service. What I mean by that is that it isn't a DVD by post thing, all tv / films are streamed via the internet. This did mean that I needed to upgrade my internet to unlimited downloads!
There are both tv programmes and films on netflix in abundance with titles being added each Friday
All of the shows and films are categorised (there are lots of categories, some of which are extremely curious - "gory teen spoof horror" anyone?). And there are sections that recommends things to you based on what you have watched previously which is nice.
You don't tend to get the newest releases on Netflix but to be honest, there is enough on here to keep you occupied at any time! The main benefit for me against LoveFILM is that obviously you can watch what you want everytime. You are not limited to what DVDs you have been sent!
With Blockbuster now in its final throws, it would seem that days of the high street video rental stores are now destined to being nothing more than a fond memory. Many would see the decline of this rental titan as being down to the rise in popularity of online rental companies, which despite the numerous companies currently out there, including companies like Amazon and Play launching their own rental brand, aswell as Wuaki.tv which has also recently joined the race for online rental supremacy. However despite his when it comes to online rentals it has always been a two horse race between Lovefilm.com and Netflix.
First of it is worth noting that this review applies solely to the UK version of Netflix, with the American version being a very different beast and something you will hear many people talking about when discussing Netflix, mainly due to the UK range being a lot more limited than its American counterpart. As such if it is an extensive range of titles your looking for then Lovefilm may be more for you, even if you do have to wait for discs to be sent out in the post.
The range it has to be said can come across slightly limited, with usually a year wait for new titles to be added if at all as certain studios refuse to option films for streaming on the site. However if your like myself and the sort of person who usually gets around to watching films months after their DVD release or just like catching up on older movies there is plenty here to enjoy. At the same title Netflix is home to several titles exclusively including House of Cards, Orange is the new Black aswell as bringing back Arrested Development. Equally of note is Breaking Bad, which while not exclusive to the site is still exclusively streamed on Netflix, who also uploaded episodes the day after they were shown in the states, due to the show despite its insane popularity never being able to find a channel to support it here in the UK. Of course with that showing now having come to an end it remains to be seen what will be the next showcase title for the company.
Limited not just to films but boxsets and comedy stand up, the site tries to be as diverse with it's selection while offering recommendations based on your viewing habits and ratings. Thankfully the site has also recently added a "My List" feature meaning that time previously spent searching for titles is cut down as users can make a list of their favourites and titles they wish to watch, something which also saves you trying to remember titles previously stumbled across while browsing the selection. The real strength of the site though is with it's selection of TV box sets available to stream, with shows being added with their full back catalogue which is perfect when you find your new favourite show and a feature which has given many shows like Fringe and Archer a chance to be discovered by folks who likely missed them the first time around.
Despite the limited range what Netflix does offer is the ability to watch any of it titles instantly, with boxsets set up so that as soon as one episode finishes, you are given a countdown to the next episode showing instantly and without any of the hassle of going back into the boxset list to get to the next episode. Needless to say for those of you who love a boxset binge, this makes for another fantastic feature much like its existing Netflix Kids option which filters the selection to family and kids TV and movies and ensuring that they don't stumble across anything too shocking.
Not available just through your PC, but also available on seemingly any format you can think of and ensuring that you really can make the most of your membership. It should be noted that to use the servce on your Xbox you will need a gold membership to XBOX live, which is an additional expensive especially if your not already using your XBOX for online gaming. For this reason The Playstation comes out on top as it is ready to go without any additional costs. Needless to say despite being based online it is very user friendly, so even the least tech savy will have no problem using the service.
True the selection might be too limited to film fans who have to watch every title as it's released, but for your more casual movie watcher or TV fans there is still plenty to enjoy, but no doubt by the end of your 30 day free trial it will be clear if its the service for you or not. Equally the membership can be cancelled with zero issues for those afraid of going past their trial period.
Still one of the premier online rental companies even if it pales in comparision to its American counterpart and I can only hope that the end of Blockbuster only further encourages them to add to the solid service already provided.
Having downloaded Netflix in the middle of the summer holidays for a free months trial the only gripe i have is that i did not download it sooner! Has been a god send for my daughter even though we have sky all she wants to watch is netflix. think its great that they have a speficic KIDS section so when my child is looking she doe not come across and adult films with scary front covers! great selection of programmes and films for all ages. and have cancelled my sky movie package because of this. New films arent included but then they arent on sky either.Have already told my family about this and 4 of them have downloaded already, great that you can have it on your WII your IPAD your IPHONE etc all at the same time and can watch it on 2 devices at the same time which is a bonus! it also saves where you finished watching and you can play again from exact point even using a different platform. programmes also come in order so its easy to select certain episodes. when i have to pay £6 a month i wont be moaning either! NETFLIX is great!
I joined Netflix a couple of months ago. Although this is a generally positive review, I will honestly reveal some of the drawbacks, as no product is always perfect. So, I joined because I was about to live alone and was suggested by my sibling to help on a quiet evening. I am pretty savvy with internet and know where to look if I want to watch a film elsewhere for free, but such streaming sites are unreliable, unpredictable and usually let you in for disappointment. So, Netflix.com free trial seemed worth trying.
Let me make a clear point here: The free trial is absolutely easy to cancel. It takes 2 clicks. I checked this out thoroughly before I joined because of all the horror stories you hear about people not being able to cancel. It honestly is easy to cancel, or else that would have put me off before starting. They also have a customer care phone line open 24/7 which is clearly written on the sign-in page.
Probably naiively, I initially thought I'd have access to any film I would ever want to watch at any given time. This is not the case, and if this is what you are expecting then you will be disappointed. There is a very extensive collection of films on Netflix (as well as much smaller collections of TV Shows, Documentaries etc), but considering how many films have actually ever been made, it is likely that you will be familiar with only a small percentage of them (if you are like me, and are no 'movie fanatic' but do enjoy a good movie and occasional trips to the cinema). This is because Netflix have to buy the rights for each film/Tv programme they feature on their site. This means that some films they only have listed for a certain period of time, as they cannot afford the rights permanently. As well as losing old films, they do replace them with new films which is obviously good because if they had the same, static collection of films it would get boring.
The movies are selected from a large range of genres and sub-genres. One of the best features on Netflix is the ability to rate films after you watch them (or ones you have already seen) and then get suggestions on what else you may like. Also, the films are categorised very specifically, so for example, under 'Comedy' you will have a sub-genre of 'Sentimental Comedies' and so forth, so you can be very specific about the type of film you want to watch.
The ability for playback on various media is also a bonus. I use my laptop to watch movies, but also my phone with the IPhone app. I was genuinely impressed by the quality of streaming on the phone, as I was apprehensive at first. It is smooth with no buffering, and I use it with 3G, not wireless.
Movies are obviously the biggest collection on there, but I really enjoy my documentaries personally, and there is only a modest collection of these. However, I did take a look at love film's collection and it is MUCH smaller. Plus, documentaries are often on youtube so it's not as much of a loss.
So, in conclusion, I would definitely recommend Netflix for movie-lovers. And absolutely recommend the free trial to anybody. It is cheap, efficient and keeps you entertained. Excellent for those living alone, or even for couples. More of a modern selection of films so perhaps not catering to the older generation at present, although there are some older films on Netflix. However, there are a lot of children's films, and the ability to create safeguards on your account so a child can select suitable films for themselves on the same account.
Netflix is an online service that provides online streaming of many shows, movies, documentaries etc.. and also you can rent movies/shows and have discs sent to your house. You can surf through thousands of choices and store your favorites (or ones you want to watch later) in your personalized queue. When you rent disks, they send them to you in the mail (usually only takes a couple of days to arrive) and you can keep them as long as you please, then when you do sent it back the next disk in your queue. Netflix offers different types of programs to purchase for a monthly fee. For anytime streaming only (no hard copy disks) I believe that it's about $8 a month. The price goes up from there, it goes up a couple of dollars for anytime streaming and one hard copy disk at a time. Then a couple more dollars when you go up to anytime streaming and two hard copy disk. I do not know if they have a program where you can rent more than 2 movies at a time. And I believe that there is not a program that provides hard copies and no streaming. This company is very reliable and fair.
The Netflix website is really easy to navigate. Netflix provides you with a multitude of ways to search for movies or shows. You are able to search by title, actor, etc... using the search bar. It is also possible to search by genre and then sub-genre for many of them. Another way you can search the site is through the suggestions they make based upon your movie preferences ( I really love this feature). So here is how it works: Once you have been with Netflix for long enough or have used it enough to get an idea of the sort of things you want to watch the website will create lists of suggested movies for you. This list is ever-changing and with each show or movie you watch you can rate it according to how much you liked it and suggestions will be made based upon your personal rating. Like I said, I love this feature! It's great! When you finish watching something that you really like it suggests things that are similar that you might like.
This website has a pretty large collection of movies and shows. Some are available for streaming and in hard copy form and some are ONLY available in hard copy form. The ones that tend to be only in hard copy form are the more popular or more recent releases. Netflix does not really keep up with the brand new stuff. Both with TV shows and with newly released movies... So if you want access to really recent releases you may be disappointed with the selection ( I know steaming places like Hulu keep their TV shows really up to date with recently aired episodes and shows). I think they are getting better with this though.
This site has a rather large selection of movies and shows available that are easy to find using any number of the provided ways. It's pretty cheap, for $8 a month you get access to lots of stuff and you can access it anywhere(home, office, bus, etc... w/ internet connection) and anytime.
The selection could be a little more up-to-date. Also, very occasionally the Netflix site will have issues loading but it's an uncommon issue.
You can barely switch on the TV these days without being bombarded by an advert for an on-demand film streaming service. Netflix is one of the many companies seeking your cash.
The principle behind Netflix is simple. In return for a monthly £5.99 subscription you can stream as many films as you like to a PC, tablet or games console. When you consider how much it costs for one ticket to the cinema that looks like a pretty good deal. Better still, there are no minimum contract periods, so you can stop whenever you feel like it.
Registering is very easy and just involves filling out an online form (including a credit card from which your monthly payment will be taken) and your account is immediately activated so you can start watching straight away. The only other thing you need to do is to download the Netflix software to the devices you want to use. How you do this will depend on the device, but I downloaded the software to several devices (including an iPad, PC and PS3) and found it a simple and trouble-free process.
The actual player software is pretty basic and only allows you to do things like pause/fast forward or rewind but let's be honest - those are the things you really need. The software is intuitive and easy to use, so whilst it lacks in the functionality offered by some more advanced DVD or Blu-Ray players, it's a lot easier to understand.
Netflix has hundreds of films available. These are very varied in terms of both age (some are from 40+ years ago, others were in the cinema last year) and genre. It also includes TV series from both this country and the USA. Choice is not going to be an issue - although choosing is! True, the back catalogue is filled with lots of older titles (things that were released in the cinema more than 2 years ago) and newer releases are disappointingly thin on the ground. The same is true of content updates (which are done on a monthly basis), since each new content upload seems to consist of a handful of newer releases with lots of older films making up the numbers.
This was a frustration for me. Whilst there's no doubting the number and range of the films on offer, it was the lack of up-to-date content that ultimately led to me cancelling the subscription. I have a massive collection of DVDs, so older films don't hold the same appeal - the chances are that I already own them. And whilst I try to go to the cinema once a week, my nearest cinema is absolutely appalling , so I miss a lot of new releases that I would like to see. I was hoping that Netflix might provide the solution and was left slightly disappointed. If you're like me and mainly want to catch up with newer films then Netflix probably isn't the service for you. If, on the other hand, you just want instant access to hundreds of films, regardless of release year and don't have a large film collection yourself, then it will do the job.
Searching for content can be a little frustrating. The home page of the player pulls some recommendations out of the catalogue (based on what you have watched, what other people have watched or highlighting recently added content), but browsing the full range is trickier You can narrow things down by category or search for specific film titles or actors (but not directors, curiously) but this is a bit cumbersome. What I really wanted to be able to do was browse an A-Z list of the entire collection or of the films in certain categories and, as far as I can see, there is no way to do this.
Streaming quality is excellent (of course, this depends on the quality of your broadband connection). 2MB per second is recommended as the minimum speed and most people should be able to get this. There's a short pause before the film begins and that's the only interruption you'll have. Otherwise, it's just like watching the film from a DVD. The streaming is smooth, reliable and there are no long pauses for buffering (at least not in my experience).
You do need to be a little wary about potential hidden costs. Your monthly subscription allows you to stream as many films as you like but you do need to check your contract with your internet service provider. Many providers impose download limits and streaming will eat up a massive chunk of your allocation. If you go over your limit, you may be charged extra by your ISP, and these can be quite expensive. Watching a film in this way is likely to take up a gigabyte or more of your usage allowance, so if you've got a 10Gb monthly allowance from your ISP, it's not going to take long to use it all up.
As I mentioned earlier, I did cancel my subscription after only a few months, mainly because of my disappointment at the lack of newer films. Cancellation was surprisingly hassle free. I looked on the Netflix website, expecting to be told that I would have to ring up where, no doubt, someone living 3000 miles away would spend half an hour trying to persuade me to stay and then mess up the cancellation anyway. But no; it turns out you can cancel just by logging into your account online and clicking the Cancel Subscription button. You will still have access up until the date you have paid (since you always pay one month in advance) and can continue to watch as much as you like up to that point.
Amazingly, this worked! At the end of the subscription period, Netflix didn't try to take a payment from my card and my access ceased. Netflix also make it easy to come back if you change your mind. Your account details remain valid for 12 months after you cancel, so if you want to resubscribe you can just log back into your account and re-activate membership., rather than having to fill in the online form again.
I was impressed with Netflix and actually felt reluctant to leave. However, given my massive DVD collection and the fact that new films were not appearing on the system in sufficient quantity, I didn't feel I was getting value for money from it For anyone who enjoys films but doesn't have a massive personal collection, this is an ideal way of catching up on all those films you've always wanted to see but never quite got around to.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
I've been intrigued by streaming services since they launched but as I'm not a fan of subscriptions I was keen to make sure I'd use the service enough to merit the cost.
I originally tried Netflix in late 2011 on a free trial but was not impressed with the selection of films at the time. I prefer independent/foreign/documentary/cult films to blockbuster movies and didn't feel Netflix offered this.
Fast forward to January 2013, and a second free trial offer comes up. I've heard by this point through word of mouth that Netflix has acquired many more licenses in the UK and now has a much better selection. My second experience with Netflix confirms this. The range is now much wider (not just blockbusters but a great 'independent' film section).
The easiest way to use the service is to scroll through through the films in each genre (romance, documentary, stand up comedy, TV programmes, children and family films, etc.). However, users can also go straight to the "Genres" tab and click into each genre to get a longer list of available films to stream.
My personal highlights are excellent US TV shows such as 'Breaking Bad' and 'Sons of Anarchy'. Netflix will usually buy a license for all seasons of a show. The £5.99 a month is much cheaper than buying endless box sets that I might not watch again! After using the free trial for a month, I subscribed in February 2013 and haven't looked back.
My boyfriend and his housemates chose to opt for a Netflix subscription instead of paying for a TV license as they never watch live TV. I will definitely consider this in the future as Netflix + On demand TV streaming (not live shows) is easily enough TV for me!
I can also say that Netflix works extremely well from both laptops and consoles. I've used it from a Playstation. Netflix works 'in browser' rather than through a downloaded program but never buffers or has trouble loading content and doesn't freeze like Iplayer or 4oD. There are also no annoying adverts!
I have tried LoveFilm and found the interface difficult to use and the selection poor. LoveFilm is only £1 cheaper per month so I'd say Netflix is worth the extra money.
As I see it, Netflix will only grow as it buys more licenses. US Netflix has been around for longer but is now huge. Netflix is also now creating original shows. The first offering, 'House of Cards' was well written, beautiful filmed, and had both a great plot and impressive cast. I look forward to more Netflix originals in the future.
UPDATE: 30/01/13 - I very nearly got rid of this service during the first free month and it's no thanks to Netflix themselves that I didn't. I'll explain why later.
I've never been a fan of subscription TV, well, 'subscription anything' for that matter. Unless something is markedly cheaper as a monthly contract, it's PAYG for me every time.
I certainly don't have any need for lavish Sky or Virgin TV contracts; generally speaking, Freeview with a two-tuner recorder and access via my new 'smart' TV to an on-demand service like BBC iPlayer have been plenty for me.
There's just one exception; TV serial dramas that after a couple of seasons, transfer to Sky. In the past these have cost us a considerable amount in buying the boxed-set DVDs just to 'give closure' to the series.
It was only after my wife bought the first three seasons of 'Breaking Bad' on DVD, a series that was clearly never coming to non-subscription TV any day soon, that I started to investigate what the various on-demand services could offer us.
My first toe dipped into these waters was with 'Blinkbox', a service run by Tescos. I'm still a member of Blinkbox, and even have some of their £5 free trial credit left. The major advantage of Blinkbox is that if you don't use it, it costs nothing being strictly PAYG. Its major downside was that it didn't appear to have much of interest to me, hence the fact that I haven't even spent the first free credit!
Somewhat more of interest to us was Netflix, the acid test being 'did it have seasons 4 and 5 of Breaking Bad?'
The catch to Netflix is that it's a monthly fee of £5.99, but to be fair, you only have to watch about three items in the same month for Blinkbox to become dearer than this. However, NF very fairly offers you a free month to try it out, leaving you to cancel the next debit before it happens. Refreshingly there's no contract period beyond remembering to cancel before the next payment is due, so the most you stand to waste is £5.99. No early-opt-out fees, nothing, nada, nichts.
The free month has a double use, to my way of thinking.
a) You get to see if it's going to be of any use to you, content-wise and
b) You get to find out if your broadband set-up is good enough. Most people who've tried something like iPlayer will already know this. However, Netflix make a big fanfare of the fact that their movies and other programmes are transmitted over the internet in HD format with 5.1 channel surround sound. If you are in any doubt, try the HD option on iPlayer to see if your kit is up to it. Unlike iPlayer, there is no fall-back choice of standard definition to take the strain off your broadband.
Later on, I'll describe the problems that this has given me.
Even though I fully intended to use my TV for the programme streaming itself, I still used my PC to sign up for the simple reason that it gives me a proper keyboard to enter the details. Then, when it came to connecting via the TV for the first time (and first time only), I only had to input my agreed ID and password the once, and haven't been asked since.
Whilst you CAN type on a 'smart' TV, it's none too smart and quite laborious! I have also downloaded the Android 'app' version to my Google Nexus tablet, although you can only use one bit of kit at a time*. To be honest, apart from having confirmed that this works, it won't be getting much use as my main aim was to provide more content on my TV, not watch The IT Crowd in bed!
(*It goes without saying that there's an iPhone app too, and the possibility of using the service on games consoles - PS3, Wii, Xbox, Apple TV etc)
Once you've signed up, all you need to do during your evaluation period is to diary the date for cancellation, should it prove necessary.
I'm going to deal here with how it presents itself to me, on my LG Smart TV, which has an 'app' for it. No doubt this is very similar on equivalent Samsung TVs, tablets, and games machines.
Booting up the app from my TV gives me, initially a log-on screen. You only have to do this once. After that, it boots straight to screen showing my most recently watched programmes - useful if you're part-way through watching a series. Below this, you can scroll to such categories as 'Top 10 Movies', 'Films Popular on Netflix' which ironically seems to be anything but those I'd actually want to watch, 'Popular on Facebook' - why the hell I'd want to know this is anyone's guess.
However, you are not stuck with their suggestions, useful though some of them might be. Pressing the Yellow Button gives you access to a browser, where movies and TV programmes are split by genre. If you really can't guess what the genre would be, pressing the Green Button gives you an alphabetic search facility.
Right, so you've found what you want, selected it, and pressed the OK button to start it running. There'll be a brief pause to allow for the building up of a suitable-sized buffer (as with iPlayer) and then the movie/programme commences.
First impressions are that picture quality is near-as-damn-it the same as live TV, including the HD versions. Apparently, there's even provision for Netflix to step down the quality from HD to SD should continuity be compromised by line speed and buffering problems. In my experience this doesn't work................
Yes, a few, which were sufficient to make me give up the subscription unless I found the solution. Don't get me wrong, I was happy with the selection of programmes for £5.99 a month - after all this was never intended to do cinema box-offices out of business.
It's the technology as it's available to me that was the problem.
There were two main difficulties that I didn't feel I'd ever get to the bottom of.
The first was 'buffering'. You may have come across this whilst trying to watch iPlayer. Part-way through your intended viewing, the screen goes bank and a buffering 'thermometer' appears. This wouldn't have been so bad if it ever reached 100% and got on with playing the movie, but on several occasion, all with HD movies, not shorter TV programmes, it locked-up so I've had to re-boot the application. Admittedly, it takes me to where I left off, but that's not the point. If I'm paying, however little, to watch a movie, I want it to be unbroken.
Those in the know will immediately question my own set-up.
Is my broadband fast enough? Well it frequently tops 65 mbytes when tested, so I don't see it dropping below 8 meg which even then should be more than enough even for HD movies. Cable broadband has always tended to be 'what it says on the tin', rather than any of that 'up to xyz mbytes, subject to distance from the exchange' lark.
What about my connection between TV and router? I've eradicated the uncertainty of wi-fi in a brick-built house, including the partition walls, by creating a direct Ethernet connection to my router, which in any case is a shed-load faster than the broadband itself.
As far as I coud see, I'd erased all local problems, at least those I had some control over. There was still a remote possibility that it was the LG TV's Netflix application that maybe couldn't handle the streaming, but then, that's what it was designed to do, and I didn't want to watch on a PC or tablet just to prove the theory. If it doesn't work on my telly, I don't want it.
I don't suppose they'd ever admit it, but it could also have been a capacity problem on the Netflix server.
The second less annoying fault was the loss of lip-sync, either permanently or momentarily. It's never much, but enough to get annoying. I can actually adjust it on my set, but it then needs changing back just as frequently. Pausing playback sometimes cures it, but as I said before, I don't pay just to have to keep fiddling with it.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Well, I'm not the biggest techno-phobe in the country, and I didn't mind doing some further digging around on this if was going to help me keep the service, which, technical hitches apart, is good value for money.
If I couldn't, I'd definitely be giving it the heave-ho. Changing the TV was not an option - I only just bought it!
The first free month is a boon, and in my case has saved me making a mistake. It's enabled me to save about £24 on boxed sets of Breaking Bad Seasons 4 and 5, the watching of which did sometimes suffer from the aforementioned problems. It has allowed me to have a laugh at the entire 'IT Crowd' series (all of which went without a hitch - SD recordings I'll bet) and proved to me that on-demand TV may well be here to stay, but only if it works!
In its working state, Netflix represents good value for money and isn't going to break the bank at £5.99 a month.
THE FIX, AND WHY I'M STILL ONLY GIVING IT 4 STARS
The application on my TV was exactly that, a means of browsing, choosing and playing movies and other programmes. The application for Android (and probably for iPhone - I wouldn't know) is no doubt the same. However, in a last ditch attempt to find out if there was any hint at the web-site, I logged in and went to the My Account section, where I noted at sub-menu for picture quality. Here, I was able to choose between Good, Better and Best picture quality. Having been using a TV app version, this had never been set. The site mentions this ability in the light of some people having download maxima to worry about. Strangely enough, I was able to set mine to Best (described as 1gbyte per hour, or 2.3 gbytes per hour for HD content and both buffering and lip-sync problems have gone away.
I can only summise that a combination of having no parameter set and my 60 meg broadband was allowing Netflix to swamp my TV's streaming abilities, causing to to lock up whilst buffering. Now that I've got some kind of flow control in place, all is well and I'll be keeping the service on.
So why am I p*****d at Netflix? Because, nowhere on the TV or Android application is there even a note that further settings can be adjusted at the www.netflix.com web-site, that's why!
Ok I know some people are sceptical about sites like this and anything that costs any kind of money is usually frowned upon but i'm about to do my best to convince you that netflix is the way to go!!!
- Dead Media -
DVDs are dying out, trust me, slowly but surely they will end up like VHS and all the rest before them, just like CD's killed off cassette they will too die out because of online streaming and downloads. I didn't agree at first and refused to believe physical media could die out but it will eventually...
The introduction of Smart TVs has taken this one step further... you dont even need a PS3 or laptop hooked up to access netflix or love film, its on the TV! I also believe this will be the next step for gaming and that all content will become downloadable straight to Smart TVs in the near future.
- Access anywhere -
Now this wont include everybody but if you're like me and have spare time at work, travel a lot or spend most nights on the road for business then if you have a wi-fi connection (free in hotels and most of the country with the latest hotspot schemes) you can access this from your laptop, tablet or even a smart phone! you just go to the site and log on, so you're at work and bored on your lunch hour... traveling on a train up and down the country going to meetings.... just log in and watch the next episode in a TV series you've become hooked on or one of your favourite films that you cant get enough of...
- Price -
£6 a month.... before you think oooh i dont really want any more expenses, let me put that into perspective, the average DVD you would buy from a shop is around £10, Sky movies is about the same and yes they get you the latest films earlier but not by much and it wont be long before netflix gets them straight away, it all depends on more members, in the states you can watch anything... i mean anything, their stored data is endless.... Now i love 24 and bought the box set for about £100... Thats all on there... along with rescue me, prison break, hero's, 4400, lost, dexter, scrubs.... through tv shows alone there is more to watch than you'll have time for, and then there are the movies!!!!!!
- Whats available -
Like i said there are dozens of great tv series and so many movies already and the list just gets bigger and bigger, i think some of the latest titles to be released are inscidious and conan 2011... thats about the time frame for latest movies to get onto netflix.There is no need to go reeling off all the films available but it has hundreds all categorised into, action, adventure, fantasy, sci fy, comedy, horror, suspense, tv... it goes on and each of them is sub categorized even further!!
- Give it a go -
You can sign up for a month free, honestly its completely free, watch what you want, if you dont like it or if you do but dont want to pay cancel after a month otherwise it just carries on and you get unlimited streamed movies for £6 a month but you can cancel it at any time, there is no 12 month contract like you get with other sites so its hassle free!!
- Why not download -
Ok so there could be people out there who think well thats great but i can just download movies for free so why bother... I'll tell you why i think, if you download a movie you have to find the download so you have to know what you want to begin with, wait for however long it takes to download (miutes... hours) it takes up space on your hard-drive, then when you come to watch it you might not even like it so you have wasted all that time and have nothing to show for it! With netflix you can just browse whats available, select something, start watching instantly and if its no good just go back and watch something else!
- Is it for me -
I do have one concern and that is depending on your broadband speed, if you are in a densely populated area and you all have the same broadband provider then your internet may be slow... now the companies that provide us with the internet are coming up with new ways to solve these problems but for now i would suggest having the free trial and check that you are able to stream the movies well enough.
- Value -
So i have had it about 2 months, paid my first £6, watched an entire season of prison break, 3 seasons of Rescue me, 1 season of 24, 1 season of the US office and about 15 - 20 movies! now im a stage tech so i do have long periods at work where i have access to my laptop so i have made the most of my subscription that way but most nights we watch a movie online together and have blitzed through a few tv shows we like because without adverts and not having to wait a week you can get through 100 episodes in an evening quite easily!!!
- Overall -
Get it! it's that simple, it really is a great service and you won't have to buy any more dvd's, saving money and space, you can watch it anywhere pretty much and like i said the amount of films on there will only increase day after day!!!
I hope you choose to give it a go and if so enjoy :)