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LoveFilm - Performance

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


Watching LoveFilm on the Xbox 360 through our national average 6MB broadband pipe - the same pipe we’ve used for all of our video streaming tests - HD run-throughs of Kill Bill and Robin Hood both appeared in picture quality that sometimes looked more like soft and cloudy standard definition than HD. At no point - predictably, to be fair - do you get pictures that look anything like as good as Blu-rays. More tellingly, though, nor do Lovefilm’s HD pictures look as consistently crisp as Netflix’s HD films.

LoveFilm states that you only need a 4Mbps pipe to enjoy 720p HD on the Xbox, so there should be no technical reason why our connection should cause the level of softness we frequently experienced, especially if there’s a lot of motion in the picture.


It doesn’t help matters, either, that motion regularly looks a little jerky, while compression blocking artefacts crop up quite commonly and are hard to ignore. These sort of problems can only be down to LoveFilm’s delivery infrastructure not currently being as effective as Netflix’s.


HD pictures do, thankfully, look quite a better on our Macs, with a much sharper finish, lots more detail and fewer compression artefacts (using exactly the same broadband pipe used for the Xbox 360 tests, incidentally). However, even here the picture softens up and starts to artefact quite severely when there’s a lot of motion in the picture. Camera pans, in particular, can end up looking quite a mess.

Compression issues

Obviously any streamed HD service will need to compress its pictures to some extent. But from what we’ve seen, LoveFilm’s compression engine isn’t as clever as it could be. And the sort of inconsistency this causes quite often - more often than with Netflix - leads to you being distracted from what you’re watching, especially if you’re using a quite large TV or projection screen.

We should stress at this point that LoveFilm states that you need a broadband feed of 12Mbps to enjoy full 1080p on a PC or Mac, so clearly our ‘national average’ feed wasn’t delivering us that during our tests. If you are lucky enough to have a 12Mbps-plus feed, then your experience could/should be better.

Going back to our own Xbox 360 LoveFilm experience, it’s slightly sullied by a rather grey look to dark areas of the picture. There’s some evidence of this with Netflix as well, but it’s nowhere near as strong. Fortunately this black level issue does not seem to affect other LoveFilm platforms.

Ratio errors

Another issue we still have with LoveFilm is that it isn’t as consistently respectful of aspect ratios as most film enthusiasts would like. For instance, it showed Kill Bill in a 16:9 ratio, even though it was shot in 2.35:1. Such issues were rare during our tests, but they shouldn’t really be there at all.

And still we’re not done with the niggles. For it transpires that LoveFilm continues to only stream stereo audio with its films on most devices. Only selected LG and Samsung Blu-rays players and TVs benefit from Dolby 5.1 audio at present.


Having to listen to films like The Dark Knight in mere stereo when many of Netflix’s films are available with either surround sound or, in a few cases, Dolby Digital 5.1 will come as a crushing disappointment to any serious film fan with a surround sound system.

We guess if you don’t have a surround sound system and just tend to watch films using the speakers in your TV or computer then LoveFilm’s stereo sound might not bother you too much. But if Netflix can support surround sound without its streams falling apart, why can’t LoveFilm?


The world of video streaming still feels all too often like a frustrating place to be, plagued by either content shortages or poor AV quality. LoveFilm thankfully gets the content side of things more right than any other streaming service out there right now (though it’s by no means comprehensive), and technically it has managed to advance some way from the really quite shoddy state it was in prior to its May HD launch.

However, its HD video standards still tend to fall short of Netflix’s, and delivering only stereo soundtracks continues to feel like a bizarre and unnecessary blast from the past.

In other words, while it’s good to see LoveFilm finally at least trying to make things better, there’s still a ways to go before the service totally wins us over.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Image Quality 7
  • Sound Quality 5
  • Value 9


August 8, 2012, 9:25 pm

Cons: No Android streaming app. Game over.


August 9, 2012, 12:25 am

The quality of the player is really terrible. Very low quality pixellated playback to the point where not worth watching. Netflix performs infinitely better.


August 9, 2012, 4:24 pm

I have a very slow 4Mbit DSL connection, and Netflix can stream HD. LoveFilm can't.
No surround sound is also a big let down. I will stick to blu rays on LoveFilm, for now.


August 10, 2012, 7:46 pm

I have a cable 10Mb connection and use Lovefilm via my 360.
I've never experienced any connection problems with the service and although initially the HD service was not consistent, it has certainly stabilised now.
No surround sound is something that I don't really miss for a streaming service and although I have not tried Netfilx I would not hesitate to recommend Lovefilms service.


August 12, 2012, 9:07 pm

Having recently switched from an "up to 8 MB/s" ADSL service to BT's Infinity (up to 50MB/s) service I was expecting all those Lovefilm streaming issues to go away.
They didn't! I still get the same picture freezes, pixelations and juddering as I used to.
Strangely enough when I switch from SD to Lovefilm's HD feeds my issues don't get any worse and it seems to me that it's not a bandwidth issue causing the problem, more a buffering issue where Lovefilm isn't sending the signal out consistently on time.
BBC iPlayer works great though. The extra bandwidth really makes a difference on the BBC's HD streams.

(For the techies among you - My speedtest results show I was getting a 3.4MB/s speed from my old "up to 8 MB/s" service and now get a solid 22MB/s from the BT Infinity service.)


November 5, 2012, 5:50 pm

Got LOVEFILM instant as a package through Talktalk - its total rubbish.

I have a good download speed and my internet TV has a wired connection. I can connect to the internet to use any other programs but not Lovefilm.
I registered in mid October and dispite sending several emails, Lovefilm have not responded (5 Nov). I have even telephoned them but got cut off by their customer assistant half way through a conversation (I think on purpose).
I'm not wasteing anymore of my time on this as its total rubbish and doesn't work.
Just opens the film then buffers and does't download.
Same as above no problems with iplayer. I have a 9MB service.

Sammii Jayne Thomas

January 2, 2013, 1:54 pm

Dreadful films, Netflix is definitely better. I cancelled my account online and got a email through today saying I had an outstanding payment? So I phoned up spke to some rude idiotic bas*ard who didn't even understand basic English! Who cancelled my account for me. Even when I mad it really clear I wanted my account a cancelled he asked me to re do my card details for them to take the 4.99 out my account! Dreadful service , dreadful company I deffirently won't be recommending this company ever!


January 2, 2013, 3:57 pm

The content in general is pretty poor. There are some decent films that most will have seen before. Unfortunately Lovefilm have a tendency to make their numbers of movies look appealing by cramming in at least 50-60% B movies in most category's. I cancelled after my free trial when there was nothing else to watch. Netflix is no better and Now Tv is just shocking.


January 5, 2013, 1:33 pm

I'm having to use this as my smart TV (LG) doesn't have a NetFlix App which is really annoying. Still, nothing ventured nothing gained.


April 30, 2013, 1:50 pm

Lovefilm is very, very poor. Awful customer service, take money from your account even though you have cancelled and then wont refund your money. Range of films for Instant is rubbish. Netflix is so much better. I would never use Lovefilm again. Ever.


August 22, 2013, 3:40 am

I mainly stream Lovefilm through my Xbox. I don't get too many problems, I just hate the interface and there isn't much of a selection.
A lot of the movies are very old and there are no up to date tv shows or new releases. A few newish films crop up now and then, but not enough to justify me paying every month.
Also there is a "more like this" section when you select a film title, it seems that the same selection of movies crops up no matter what film I pick, making it pointless.
After trying both Lovefilm and Netfilx I recommend sticking to Netflix.


September 5, 2013, 8:57 pm

Huge collection of films and TV shows; Good value; 7 out of 10???? Do you need someone to hold your hand when you go to the cinema? Have you ever watched a movie that has a rating of more than 7 out of 10 from IMDB? I'm sorry, but the movies on Lovefilm are awful with a bad selection and terrible value. I'm in the Hate Lovefilm category.


October 1, 2013, 12:56 pm

ilovefilm have the worst customer service support i have ever seen, 3 times i have called up to cancel my account and on all those accounts they failed to do so. Thankfully i changed my debit card that they cant take any money out of my account.


November 11, 2013, 12:06 pm

Lovefilm. OK but not great. Customer service not great. One guy even argued with me from the Canbury Park Road Help centre. Anyway after losing my rag I canceled and joined Netflix. The video quality and video range instantly justified my choice.
Good bye lovefilm


February 17, 2014, 12:30 pm

I liked Lovefilm in the good old days when dvds were delivered to your door...but times change. I want to stream the top films now, watch what i want when i want. If Lovefilm let me stream 8 of the latest DVD releases a month for a reasonable charge Id subscribe again...but they dont or cant. Either way they lost my custom. I subscribe to Netflix now for general viewing and Blinkbox for the latest releases.


March 16, 2014, 10:09 pm

Just told Lovefilm where to stuff their videos, etc. Things were great till they changed the rules and said you had to join Amazon Prime as well at an extra cost of nearly fifty quid. Not only that, they were charging my husband the fifty quid as well. Outrageous.

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