As some of you may have noticed, the UK now has access to the tv streaming service ‘Netflix’. The service was activated in the UK on January 9th and after hearing about this sevice from people in the USA i couldnt wait to get my hands on it to see what it was really like and if it is worth having compared to other services available the UK.
On day one of Netflix being available in the UK i created my account and dove straight in. My first reaction, Damn Good! I used the Netflix application on my PlayStation 3 but it is also available on both the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. My review will mainly be dealing with the PlayStation application and my experiances with such.
The app icon sits nicely in the tv section on the XMB. Grouped together with the BBC iplayer, the ITV player and the 4 On Demand just goes further to instill a bigger use to the PlayStation as a media hub than just a games system. The app opens up quickly enough and on your first time in it asks you to set up an account to access the free month trial. I created my account easily enough, no difficult bouncing from place to place to verify passwords etc. One thing i wasnt too impressed with is that they still want credit or debit card details to create an account even for the free month trial. I understand that this is probably needed to help towards stopping people from pirating the content by making sure the account is genuine and to catch the people who just forget the end date of the trial and go into the next month where the payments begin. I would of prefered the month trial to be a ‘no strings’ trial that would just end on the last day and then you get the choice to add card details to the service to carry on but these days this kind of business model for trials is becoming more and more common.
Once the account is created you go straight into the main menu screen. Here you have the box or program art of all the content so you can easily pick and choose what want to watch. There are grouped bars as you scroll down which helps you choose what you want. Such groups include, ‘tv programs’, ‘recently added’, ‘action movies’ etc. All of these have a good selection to choose from but if you can’t find something specific you are looking for then you can go to the search function by pressing the triangle button. The choice feels endless. There’s a wide range on offer ranging from old classics to new films to cult classics and great tv shows from both the UK and the US. To be honest when you first start looking you feel spoilt for choice. There is so much to choose from that i spent a good half hour just going through it all and looking at the multitude of choices.
One great feature it has is that what ever you watch can be rated. 1 star for hating it and 5 stars for loving it. Once you rate a couple of programs or films or you have just watched them, Netflix adds another choice bar where it reccomends other titles based on what you have already watched. The first few times it suggested a few titles that i had no intention of watching but the more you use the application, the more it learns your viewing tastes and gets more accurate at predicting and suggesting. A great feature when you come home from work and cant decide what you want to watch.
Once you finally choose what you want to watch all you have to do is click on the start button. Thats it, no long wait to buffer, no pausing half way in to catch up with itself. Just one click and your watching whatever you like. Pressing the x button pauses and
the same again to unpause. No lagging, just straight back into the film. If for some reason you need to stop halfway through what ever you are watching then its no problem. Netflix remembers where you have stopped watching and you can come back to it days later and pick up where you left off. Netflix will do this even if you have watched other things before going back it the original program. It will even remember the paused places for numerous films and programs which is perfect for multiple users such as families or student houses etc.
Netflix has one more party piece. It works on android and apple products as well as laptops and home computers. Apple and Android both have apps in their respective stores and works both on phones and tablets. I currently have Netflix running on an Android running Asus Transformer and an Apple Iphone 4 and both look great.
The great party piece that Netflix has is that because you are using the same account, all your preferences and paused or half watched programmes are there ready to be watched. You can watch a film on your tablet, stop it and turn on your console and the film will be there in your list, ready right where you left off. Theres no syncing needing to be done, no logging out on one device and logging in on another, it just works like some kind of technological tv magic. This ability puts netflix above any other similar application available. Sky tv has its own app for Apple devices called ‘Sky Go’. This has the film and sports channels but as yet no tv related channels. This also is restricted as you need Sky subscriptions to access this and the relevent phone or tablet, Netflix works on them all. Currently Sky movie package works out at around £16 a month for the tv and the Sky Go. On top of this dont forget you need to already have Sky tv in your house or you need to pay what i feel is extortionate prices for their boxes and/or installation.
Netflix charges £6 a month for their offerings. £6 a month for the application on your console, the application on your phone, on your tablet, on your laptop and on your home computer. £6 a month is a fantastic price for what they offer. Yes, some people say there could be more choice. I admit some films and programs i would like are missing and could be added and I’m sure they will be in time. I defy anyone to look at whats on offer and find nothing they want to watch.
Overall, in my opinion netflix is here to stay and its here to take over the market. Its serious competition for Sky and they should be worried. Netflix is a great addition to the PlayStation and other consoles. Its so good in my opinion i have even stopped my Sky movies subscription as all i want is here in Netflix. Just by that one simple change I’m saving £10 a month and, at least for my tastes, have more choice and instant choice whenever and wherever i want it. I hope to see it get bigger and more choices added to the already strong collection on there.
If in doubt, try it out, a month free trial and you will not regret it.
Photos courtesy of google images.