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Netflix - Stability and Content

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Netflix

Summary

Our Score:

8

Standard definition films obviously look softer and less detailed than HD ones. But they’re still very watchable indeed, often looking nearer the high quality of a good DVD than the ropey quality of a poor Freeview broadcast. More importantly, they look considerably cleaner and more consistent than the standard def streams of most other online platforms.

As for the sound quality of all the films we tried, again the quality is high. The 5.1 mixes available sounded to our ears to be more or less identical to the same mixes found on Blu-rays of the same films, and while the Pro-Logic mixes obviously lack the dynamics and effects steering accuracy of the 5.1 mixes they still sound immersive and ‘unclipped’.

Excellent streaming stability

It’s not just the quality of the Netflix AV experience that impresses, either; it’s also its stability. Aside from a 10 second or so delay right at the start while films buffer up, we suffered no more than a couple of tiny stutters throughout many hours of streaming across all of the available Netflix platforms.

Netflix

Even when we tried introducing other online burdens to our 6MB broadband pipe such as surfing the web on a separate laptop, the Netflix streams remained remarkably stable, marginally downgrading their quality ‘on the fly’ when necessary rather than descending into stuttering - which would, of course, be much more annoying.

More content please!

For all Netflix’s feature and quality strengths, though, it currently suffers from one major flaw. Namely that its library doesn’t contain nearly as many films and, to a lesser extent, TV shows as its LoveFilm rival. This was fairly apparent at the service’s launch, but it’s become more exaggerated in the past couple of months as LoveFilm has signed up more exclusive film studio deals while Netflix has signed up strikingly little new content to shout about.

To be fair, Netflix has a few exclusive deals of its own, and for us seems to be particularly strong when it comes to good quality TV shows. But nonetheless it’s the content area where Netflix needs to focus most of its efforts now that it seems to have the technical side of things so well sorted.

Verdict

In these days where HD viewing is the rule rather than the exception, we found ourselves surprisingly impressed, even enthused by the amount and quality of HD content Netflix is capable of delivering. We also loved the way you can ‘track’ playback of titles across multiple devices, and really appreciated the way the £5.99 a month subscription gets you everything Netflix has to offer, with no extra payments required.

Netflix’s current relative shortage of content is its biggest weakness. But no rival platforms are in any way comprehensive in movie terms either, so we suspect many AV fans will be content to live with this flaw in return for Netflix’s superior AV standards.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 9
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Value 9

Kevin

July 12, 2012, 5:30 pm

Glad to see you reviewing all these streaming services (especially smart widgets) as it's all a bit of a minefield. Hope you cover Sony's movie unlimited and the samsung movie widget too.

I use Sony the most because it has the most up-to-date movies and it's easily available on my blu-ray player. The search is not great though - it wont let you list ALL of it's movies by release date - I usually don't know what I want to watch and want to browse movies from the last few months but cant easily. I'm sure there are films I would watch but they never present themselves.

I would have tried Netflix (on my smart tv) but you had to sign up before you could see what it had to offer (I wasn't tempted). It's a pity we cant browse all the content online somewhere for all the companies.

As for all the license deals which can come and go along with the fact that not all smart tvs/players etc have the access to all the competitors makes it difficult to want to sign up to a subscription.

Better dnla (like samsungs allshare) may make it easier for everyone to simply use their laptop/tablet to push the movie from any provider to their tv. I'm also surprised that the studios haven't created their own versions yet - why do they need a middle man?

pimlicosound

July 12, 2012, 9:18 pm

Content in the UK version of Netflix is definitely a problem.

I solved that by using a VPN service called "Unblock US" that gives me access to an American DNS server. It costs $4.99 a month (about £3). I only had to specify the IP address of the DNS server on my router and all my networked devices were connected straight away. As a result, I can access the full US catalogue when I use Netflix. It's a huge improvement, and it's definitely worth the extra money since you can also access other US services like Hulu.

I realize this is starting to sound like a marketing pitch for Unblock Us, but I'm honestly just a very satisfied user who's enjoying the "real" Netflix experience.

marburybary

July 17, 2012, 6:44 am

Netflix is awesome. They did a great job of putting categories and subcategories to their website, however one big issue the loading can be painfully slow.

tedmathew90

July 30, 2012, 10:24 am

I totally agree with someone saying that Netflix is one of the greatest apps available on smart TVs. I am using an LG LM760T and I love watching movies on Netflix. I can rent high quality movies anytime and enjoy watching them on my wonderful LG TV.

www.MoneyNing.com

March 13, 2013, 9:07 pm

I use Netflix as my primary TV source.I don't have cable so we watch Netflix a good amount of time. The content may be sparse on new things but the older titles are great.

roj

January 24, 2014, 6:33 pm

Generally, I think that the Netflix streaming option is a good value.
But, the movie content for streaming is hopelessly and utterly lame. In no time at all I had gone through the paltry A-list movies that they tout in their p.r. material.
There are many favorite TV sitcoms that are not available, such as Mash, Taxi, The Honeymooners, Newhart, I Love Lucy, etc.
And finally, the consumer interface is painful to use. It is s-l-o-w and unwieldy, and just downright annoying. It seems like every time you watch new show, netflix adds a whole 'nother category, i.e. "Because you watched (insert name of show here)...". There are something like 36 categories that each time that you are looking, for a movie for instance, you have to click down through...and then all the way back up through to get to your list of favorites...(how stupid is that)? It is just as tedious as it can be.

Miyako O'Conner

November 29, 2014, 11:37 pm

John, This is a great selection of movies for this month. I look forward to watch Drive. For those who live outside USA like me, you can use UnoTelly or other similar tools to access Netflix overseas.

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