Netflix took the US by storm, adding a huge, cheap content catalogue that complemented TV catchup services like Hulu. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t in any hurry to take the service across the pond, leaving an opening Lovefilm, in conjunction with Amazon, were quick to fill. Now, however, Netflix are here. Like the VHS vs Betamax war that I’m too young to remember but I as I understand, killed millions, it’s format war time. What will your £5.99/month get you?
Netflix Review: Streaming Quality
Netflix win here. Spectacularly. While LoveFilm are consigned to DVD quality SD with Stereo sound, Netflix knock it out the park with 1080p HD and 5.1 surround. Of course, this relies on bandwidth and connection – don’t expect to be pulling that through an old 3G mobile dongle – but most connections can handle it. It will eat up bandwidth though, so those with caps might want to reconsider.
Netflix will detect your bandwidth and adjust accordingly. If you’re right on the border, or your wifi signal drops suddenly, it can lead to some artifacts appearing on the screen. In my tests, it was only a problem once, when a housemate completely annihilated our bandwidth.
Netflix review – Devices:
Netflix are pretty good at getting support onto every device under the sun. Android phones and tablets are covered, as is anything Apple. The main gaming consoles all have a client, as well as several handhelds. Most Media Centre clients support Netflix, WebTV’s come with support built in, an some select Blu-ray and Home Theatre systems also give access. If it connects to your TV and the internet, it probably supports Netflix.
Netflix Review – Content
Of course, the prettiest HD content in the world won’t stop you if your stuck watching old episodes of EastEnders. Thankfully, Netflix has a pretty wide range of content for most tastes. They’re a bit cagey about exactly how much they have, but you’ll certainly get your monies worth.
Film wise, they have a range of good titles for most mainstream tastes. Beyond that, they have a decent range of documentaries and a reasonable amount of foreign and indie cinema, but fans of classic cinema will be less than impressed. Film Buffs will be better off with Lovefilm, although ironically they’re the audience most likely to get the most out of Netflix’s superior streaming.
Where Netflix really shines is their TV Section, especially with British TV. A lot of the BBC’s best is present for those in the mood for a Dr. Who Marathon, as is channel 4, particularly their comedies. ITV’s contribution is limited, but there’s some good stuff from them as well. Sky keeps there content to themselves. Until Sky Atlantic launched, that’d be worth a hearty shrug, but with them starting to finally create shows that aren’t soul crushingly terrible, this might become more significant in the future.
There’s plenty of good American TV to be had, including Dexter, Breaking Bad, and lots and lots of South Park – LoveFilm only have them on disc. Kids are well catered to, although given how many of the programs date from the mid-90s, I do wonder if 20somethings are maybe a market.
The Netflix Review Verdict
On a technical level, Netflix blows the competition out the water, with full HD and surround sound giving even bluray a run for its money if you’ve got the broadband, while its Facebook integration is a great way to discover new content via your friends.
Content-wise, Netflix has a much broader range that’ll appeal to the whole family. That said, film buffs would be less than impressed with the odd bit of Hitchcock that Netflix provides and will probably prefer Lovefilms depth of movies, if not their limited-to-SD streaming. It really comes down to what your more likely to enjoy
If you find yourself paying for Telly Boxsets, Netflix will be more to your taste, if you’re more into your cinema then lovefilm makes more sense.
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