In January of 2010, I signed up for a Netflix two week free trial. I had heard about their instantly streaming service, and felt that the service would make Netflix more worthwhile than just renting DVDs through the mail. I chose the 1 DVD out-at-a-time unlimited service which includes the instantly streaming movies and TV shows.
At first, I streamed the Netflix instant movies and TV shows from my laptop computer to my HDTV using an HDMI cable. I streamed them both in an Internet Explorer browser window and in Windows Media Center. Most of the shows were in widescreen format. Netflix instantly streaming service also includes Starz Play, which is like a premium movie channel or pay per view service without the high cable or satellite TV price.
The instantly streaming movies and TV ran fairly well, even on my slow 768 kilobits per second (Kbps) DSL Internet connection. We experienced some pixellation and a few interruptions, which went away almost completely after I upgraded our Internet service to 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps). The Netflix website was easy to browse in Internet Explorer. I was able to add unlimited numbers of instant streaming movies, TV shows and DVDs to my Instant Queue. I could even save movies and TV episodes that hadn’t yet come out on DVD. When the DVDs came out, they were automatically added to our Instant Queue. I could also rate movies and receive suggestions for movies I might like to watch. The suggestions were basically useless. Netflix often suggested TV shows when I wanted to watch movies, old movies when I wanted to watch new movies, low budget movies when I wanted to see blockbusters. Instead of the suggestions, I used the search function, recent lists of best movies and critics’ reviews to find new movies and TV to watch.
The Netflix instant streaming service works well with several devices I use. It streams nicely on my HP Pavilion laptop computer, but most of the time, I use the Wii game console, the Roku digital video player and a VIZIO Internet-connected HDTV to watch Netflix over the Internet.
I didn’t start renting DVDs until after deciding to keep my Netflix service after the expiration of the trial period. I found that the DVDs took about two days to ship to me and about two days to be shipped back to Netflix. I was able to rent about 3 to 5 DVDs a month, depending on how long I kept the DVDs. Also, many DVDs I wanted to watch were on “Long wait” or “Short wait” for a long time. Only one of the Netflix DVDs had any serious problems (it was cracked) and we had no problems with DVDs getting lost in the mail. The mailer had a small window through which a bar code showed when the DVD was being shipped back to Netflix. Netflix often knew that I had shipped the DVDs back very soon after I returned them.
I watched more Netflix streaming movies and TV shows by far than DVDs. I was able to find obscure movies and TV that I’d been wanting to watch for a long time. For example, I watched THX-1138, which was George Lucas’ first film. Other sci-fi movies on Netflix streaming included two of my favorites, Time After Time, Kate and Leopold and Somewhere in Time. Netflix also had every episode of Red Dwarf, a British sci-fi comedy television series, on streaming. I also found Blackadder, which was also a British comedy TV series. I also found some excellent TV series on streaming, such as Star Trek, Dead Like Me, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Merlin, The Tudors and Robin Hood, as well as educational series from PBS, the BBC, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and the Biography Channel. There were also two of The Matrix movies on streaming, as well as popular children’s movies such as WALL-E, Bolt and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. I also watched a few popular romantic comedies such as The Proposal, Confessions of a Shopaholic and The Ugly Truth. I was able to see some of the biggest blockbuster movies on DVD, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Iron Man, 2012, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Planet 51, The Wild, Sherlock Holmes and The Time Traveler’s Wife. For those who aren’t into science fiction, fantasy, romantic comedy, history and children’s shows, there are plenty of action and adventure, classic, documentary, drama, foreign, horror, independent, musical, sports and thriller movies and TV shows available.
My overall experience with Netflix is very positive. I’m no longer tempted to go to the theater to see first run movies, since I know I can rent them on DVD from Netflix. I also have found many of the movies that Dish Network offers on Pay Per View on Netflix. Dish Network would have delivered these movies to me in standard 480i definition. When I rent them from Netflix, I can at least watch them in widescreen, and if I order the DVD I can play them on my DVD player using HD upconversion. The video and audio quality of Netflix streaming movies was often superior to Dish Network, especially at 1.5 Mbps. I also loved the fact that I didn’t need to fill up space on a DVR to watch the streaming movies and TV shows.
The combination of the instant streaming movies and TV and the DVDs made Netflix well worth the price. However, it’s important to note that the Netflix service is changing. Netflix will now offer separate Instant streaming and DVD rental services. Both the instant streaming service and the 1 DVD out at a time services will be $7.99 a month.
I strongly recommend the Netflix instant streaming service if you have a high-speed Internet connection, a home network and a video streaming device that supports it. I recommend the DVD service to anyone who will use the service enough to warrant the cost. However, you have to consider travel times when choosing this service. For some people, renting DVDs from a Redbox may make more sense.
For more information on this topic, read How to Stream Netflix Movies and TV on an HDTV.
“Netflix Introduces New Plans and Announces Price Changes,” Netflix.com
“How much does it cost?” Netflix.com