Netflix, the much adored American movie rental service, has finally. Like the US service on which it's based, it provides film fans with an opportunity to gorge themselves silly on an unlimited supply of streamed movies and TV for a set monthly fee.
It sounds like the greatest thing since Blockbuster, but we decided to see for ourselves how it compares with established UK-based services such as Lovefilm and alternatives like Virgin Media, Sky or the tried and tested favourite of yesteryear -- getting up off your backside and going to the cinema. Let's see how it fared.
Unlike Netflix in America, which will post DVDs to your house, Netflix UK only allows you to watch content via the Internet. You can enjoy movies and TV programmes via your laptop or desktop as well as Wii, PS3 or Xbox 360 games consoles. It'll work on portable devices, too -- both Android and iOS apps are available -- so you can enjoy content on the move using Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.
Netflix doesn't divulge exactly how much content is available on the service, but states it has 'thousands' of films and TV episodes in its library. There's certainly a fair amount of choice, includingsuch as The Inbetweeners, Skins and The IT Crowd. The choice of films spans most of the genres we can think of.
However, it's sorely lacking in new releases. We couldn't find a single currently best-selling DVD at the time of writing. In fact, we struggled to unearth anything released in 2011 that wasn't either incredibly obscure or utterly pants. The first three movies in the action and adventure section, as presented to us, were Apocalypto (2006), Battle Royale (2001) and Robocop (1373 BC), which really made us doubt the breadth of the Netflix library.
The pricing structure is very basic. Customers pay £5.99 per month and receive unlimited streaming access to every single movie in the Netflix library. What's more, you can watch those movies as many times as you want. Plus it's possible to watch multiple films simultaneously using the same account.
If you and your loved one can't decide what to watch, there's nothing stopping you -- at the moment, at least -- from watching both of your programmes at the same time using a separate gadget. Attempting to watch a third causes an error message that states you're trying to access Netflix on too many concurrent devices.
Ease of use
Using Netflix couldn't be easier. If accessing the service via the website, you simply enter your login details and you're presented with a grid of DVD cover artwork. If you're spoilt for choice, Netflix will show you a list of what films your friends have been watching. If they've connected the service to their Facebook profile, Facebook will alert you to the fact they've just started viewing a particular programme so you can engage in witty banter or watch too.