OK, so I have heard constantly about Netflix in recent weeks, BBC news, XBox 360 and my PS3, all advertising the latest service in online TV and Movie streaming.
How does it work?
Netflix is an online media streaming service, which offers a surprisingly large range of programs and movies for instant viewing, some of which are available in HD. Out of personal interest I was very impressed to see that they have a range of Anime movies and all 4 seasons of Prison Break.
How much data usage over an hour?
Netflix suggest a minimum net connection speed of 0.5 MB for an enjoyable experience.
There are 4 settings currently available on Netflix, “Good” which is claimed to use up to 0.3 GB per hour, “Better” up to 0.7 GB per hour, “Best” up to 1 GB an hour and if streaming HD content up to 2.3 GB an hour. The kicker is that as it’s a buffer based service if you frequently pause or rewind what your watching you can increase the amount of data being used within an hour timeframe, so a big recommendation is that you check with your ISP on your data use limit and possible charges for exceeding it.
How much does it cost?
You may be as shocked as I was to find out that the cost is only £5.99 a month. Your money gets you unlimited use of the service, regardless as to the quality of the stream you’re using (well, unlimited based on your data usage limit).
Where and how can I watch Netflix?
Netflix is not a new company, it has been operating since 1997, when it first launched as an online film rental service, by May 2002 they had more than 600,000 members. It was not till 2006 when they begun to offer a streaming service, and with more than 5 years streaming, development and more than 20 million users the service is now available on a multitude of devices, the most popular and accessible of which are:
- Microsoft© XBOX 360
- Sony© PS3
- Nintendo© Wii
- iPod, iPad, iTouch and iPhone
- Any media phone on the Android OS
- Any screen based internet browser
How can I subscribe to this service?
Their website would be the most obvious place to subscribe, you can also however subscribe via any of the platforms the service is available on through the app / software.
There is currently an offer for 1 free month, however you will need to enter your credit / debit card details as you will automatically be billed unless you cancel your account (which you can do at any time online, refunds are not available).
Anything else worthy of a mention?
Once you have an account you can go to the “Suggestions For You” section of your account and rate how often you watch each genre, rate a selection of films and TV shows you have already seen, Netflix then compares your watched genres and rated shows against similar genres and ratings created by other users and suggests content based on matched data.
Initially impressed with how much content Netflix has already gathered, I was rather disappointed with the interface of the service, very large images and very little information available. It was very confusing to find episode lists when interacting with a series.
Having watched a film, and a few episodes of Heroes and The Comedy Store, I was fairly impressed with video quality of the “better” feed and sometimes a little disappointed with the audio quality, in a few episodes the audio was about 2 seconds out of sync with the visual. This however I would put down to my net connection at home but it certainly raises the old issue of no matter which online service your use it is only ever as good as your internet connection.
On the whole Netflix is a very affordable option for anyone wanting a little more content than Freeview’s Film4 but unwilling to pay for Pay Per View content or Sky Movies packages.