LoveFilm TV review: Free movie streaming tested on Samsung TV

LoveFilm free movie streaming is now live on Samsung tellies. LoveFilm... Samsung... action!

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
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Free movie streaming is now available on Samsung televisions as the LoveFilm app goes live. LoveFilm, the UK's leading film rental site, is offering online streaming on its own Web site and via Samsung's Internet@TV service. We tried it on the excellent Samsung 55C8000 55-inch enormo-telly, because that's how we roll.

To access streaming, whether free or pay per view, you'll need an Unlimited LoveFilm account -- the kind that lets you have as many films as you want in a month, starting at £10 for one disc at a time. Cheaper light-use packages are available without streaming, starting at £4 for two discs a month.

LoveFilm is also available on Sony systems, and will be added to Samsung Blu-ray players later this year.

LoveFilm on the telly

The app lets you search the entire catalogue, and offers simple list-management options. You can fast-forward and rewind through films at up to 128x, but the buffering means you can't see where you are as you move through the film, so it's pretty hit and miss. Pause a movie on your telly, and you can resume watching it at the same point in a browser on any computer.

Film stock

The 3,300-strong selection of free films boasts a wealth of decent titles, stuffed with classic and international heavyweights such as Tell No One, His Girl Friday, Chopper, Requiem for a Dream, Infernal Affairs, My Left Foot, Festen, The King of New York, The Counterfeiters, Oldboy, The Third Man... and the memetastic Downfall. There's also loads of telly, including Peep Show, Shameless, Sharpe and the classic series The Prisoner.

If you're desperate for newer fare or Hollywood hits, you'll have to watch through the browser instead of the app. Pay per view films cost £3.50 for 48 hours. They include a mix of new films such as Sherlock Holmes and Where The Wild Things Are with classics from The Godfather to Dirty Dancing. Ad-supported films such as The Proposition can be watched for free online but not on the Samsung app. There's no streaming for mega-blockbusters such as Star Trek, but you can rent them on disc and delve into the cult and classic catalogue while you wait for the rattle of the letterbox.

Click 'Continue' to see more on the features and setup process, or skip straight to page 8 for our verdict.

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To get started, press Internet@TV on your remote and you'll be presented with a grid of apps. Create an Internet@TV login if you haven't already got one -- a user name and four-digit passcode.
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We had to turn the TV off and back on again a few times until it had updated and we could access the LoveFilm app, but once we had we were given a password.
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Go back to your computer, go to http://www.lovefilm.com/activatemytv, name your TV and enter the password. You then get another code which you type into your telly.
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Now you're all set. You can either start watching, or, on your computer, create parental controls.
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Once you're setup, the app lets you search the LoveFilm catalogue. If films are available to stream for free, you can watch. If they aren't available for streaming, or are only available on pay per view, you can add them to your list to be delivered but not watch them.
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You can rate films in the TV app, and delete them from your delivery list once you've streamed them.
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You can search by title, director and genre, and filter to only include streaming films. The app is simple and easy to use, offering you the core function of finding and watching films. The problem is the picture quality: our TV applied processing that gave motion a weird 3D effect, making every film look like 1970s BBC telly. It currently may look okay in a monitor or at a push a 32-inch TV, but it's nowhere near HD or even DVD quality. The TV app uses the same feed as the online video, streaming at 700kbps. 1.6Mbps is coming to televisions next month and while high-definition quality is on the cards, it won't be live until late this year. Until then, LoveFilm recommends you watch more recent films such as Hidden or The Piano Teacher to get the best of the quality. With a simple app and good cinephile selection, LoveFilm on Samsung TVs hits two out of three bases. When the picture quality is sorted out we really will love LoveFilm.

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