Netflix finally launched at the start of the week and here’s our initial thoughts on it after using it for a few days.
It feels like I have been waiting a very long time for a service like Netflix to launch in Ireland. A legal setup that works across many different platforms for a low monthly fee.
The fee itself is €6.99 per month with the first month free. Monthly subscriptions are something I know certain people don’t like so I would suggest you use the first month to try out the service and see if you believe it is value for money. I have heard several people say that €6.99 is too much but I think you have to add some perspective to this. No, Netflix does not have the major blockbuster titles at present and is pretty light on new releases but you do have access to a growing library of films and TV series. From my point of view, it is about the price of renting a film or two from a traditional video shop, so for the amount of content you can access and how seamlessly it works, it is more than worth it. Netflix have stated that the amount of content will grow considerably over the next year so hopefully they follow through on that.
For the purposes of testing the service I have been using my Mac, a PS3, an Android Phone and Honeycomb Tablet and an iPhone. The interface is at it’s most extensive through the browser on the computer and actively looks for your ratings on films and interests in genres so it can better offer suggestions of films you may like.
Content aside, how the service works, it’s reliability, stream quality and integration between devices are the key areas I was anxious to see before the service went live. On most of those fronts I think they have nailed it.
The service is pretty much seamless. Pick your film or TV episode, hit play and after a very short buffering period the show begins and not once has it stopped to buffer during shows since I have been testing it, on any of the devices.
If you exit from a show on one device and launch Netflix on another it has synced your progress and the show will be ready to watch from where you left off. If HD content is available it will buffer it while it is playing the lower quality stream and switch to HD playback when buffered.
The Honeycomb App is superb and their layout of scrolling titles is suited to this size screen. I can’t say the same for the layout on the PS3 though. While it is very similar to all the other device layouts, the size of the titles is far too big. I have a 46″ screen and as you scroll through the different titles available, you only fit 4 to the screen in each row. They could easily have made the titles a quarter the size the are and really use the screen size available. It is a small complaint but the App on the PS3 gives you the feeling of a phone app that has just been increased in size to fill the screen instead of it being dedicated to suit the larger format. None the less the PS3 app works as flawlessly as the other devices. One thing to note is that a 5.1 soundtrack is only available on some content but hopefully this will improve with time. The HD content looks great and while not 1080p I have been very impressed with the quality. Youtube could learn a lot here on how to deliver constant HD streams sans glitches!
The Netflix App on both iOS and Android are very similar and follow the usual App layout. Nothing out of the ordinary but they both perform well and picture quality is a good even on 3G networks.
What you will have to decide is if you are happy with the content available for the price asked. If you are happy with what’s on offer, you won’t be disappointed with the quality of service Netflix provides.
We’ll do a more complete review of the Apps once we have used them more extensively .
Let us know what you think below. Have you signed up?