Tuesday
Sep102013

Netflix UK Review

To say that Netflix has been a hit within the USA would be an understatement. For years we've been hearing about how incredible this low priced, all you can watch monthly video instant streaming subscription service is. So when we saw the service jump across the pond and over to the UK we were very excited and eager to try it out.

Netflix allows you to watch TV shows and movies. The range of content offered at present here in the UK has rocketed since its release last year in 2012, with new content being added on an ever increasing basis, and we've witnessed it all happen as users of the service since its release here in the UK. Understandably a huge amount of American content is offered but quite a mammoth amount of UK shows and films are on offer too. There are the TV shows we are all familiar with here in the UK like Scrubs, The Office (US), 90210, South Park, Dexter, etc. But we have discovered quite a few really entertaining shows which aren't shown on the main stream channels in the UK, such as a fantastic dark humoured drama called 'Breaking Bad' which we're sure was only able to capture a large UK audience because of Netflix. And then we have Weeds, The Secret Life of an American Teenager, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development, Californication, Rescue, Modern Family, and the list goes on and on. It was a good experience watching these shows without having any real previous opinions of what they’d be like.

In terms of content from the UK, Netflix has the big three networks signed up with Channel 4, ITV and the BBC. ITV seem to have made quite a big splash with dozens of dramas which we couldn’t care less about. The BBC and Channel 4 have a huge library of comedies, with the big names such as The IT Crowd, Outnumbered, Coupling, Green Wing, Men Behaving Badly, Pete Vs Life, The Inbetweeners, Fawlty Towers, Peep Show, Little Britain, The Royal Family, Friday Night Dinner, I'm Alan Partridge, Father Ted, Extras, The Mighty Boosh, Black Adder, Gavin and Stacey, Fresh Meat, Teachers, Green Wing, Twenty Twelve, Kingdom . . . and again the list goes on and on. Non comedies such as Skins, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Doctor Who, Top Gear, Misfits, Shameless, The Only Way is Essex are all available. It would be nice to see UK soaps jump on board also, so the need of catch up services would be made redundant. It’s a great sign that we have some very big household shows appearing and it doesn’t show any indication of slowing down in pace.

The selection of movies in the UK at present is quickly growing just like the TV shows. We've watched quite a handful of older titles all the way up to releases within the last year. New movies released onto DVD and BluRay aren't instantly included within the Netflix library but again the time it takes for big releases to eventually appear for instant streaming is speeding up. Lots of big franchise and individually produced movies are here spread across many genres. You will not be short of something to watch.

Netflix has also turned itself into a production company now too, with its Netflix Original TV shows, which will likely be followed with their own movies. These original titles so far include House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Ricky Gervais's 'Derek', Bad Samaritans, Arrested Development Season 4 and many more titles that are planned for the rest of the year and into 2014. Netflix have 110 million dollars they intend to project into original content, so far its proven to be a huge success for them.

Once you've selected the title you'd like to watch, streaming literally takes around two to three seconds to buffer and you’re away. The sharpness and clarity of the video quality is in some cases is up to 1080P HD BluRay-like (Netflix market this as being SuperHD) when we are talking about content that has been created in the last tens years or so. We have slightly below average UK broadband speeds in our studio and, when not much else is using it, Netflix plays video back in crystal clear clarity, with rich blacks, vibrant poppy colours and a continuous smooth frame rate, high quality audio (lots of titles with 5.1 surround sound). If somebody decides to watch a YouTube video or download a few Apps the quality will seamlessly drop so the video doesn’t stop and buffer. We had a huge amount of trouble to cripple the Netflix stream but were able to make it stop on a few occasions with intense and way above normal usage on our network. The video streaming technology from Netflix is the best we have ever used or seen. It completely destroys the UK TV catch up services in terms of quality and speed and makes LoveFilm not worth mentioning. Plus Netflix is advert free.

Navigating around Netflix is marvellously simple. A list of categories and intelligently made recommendations helped steer us into finding something interesting and to our tastes. Of course, if you'd like to watch something specific, the search facility is available which also allows for searching of actors, directors and producers too. Netflix have built a personal assistant whose name is Max and he aims to help you find something to watch in a style of a TV game show, he's only currently available to help on the PS3. He asks you to rate TV shows and movies in the 'Rating Game', pick one of two very different in styles actors in the 'Celebrity Mood Ring' game and finally the last game is 'Max's Mystery Call', where Max automatically plays a title he thinks you'd like to watch. Max has actually brought up some very quirky and enjoyable pieces of content that we hadn't spotted previously in the Netflix library.

We have used the service on the iPad, iPhone, Mac and PS3. It also works on the PC, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Apple TV. It looks and operates near identically everywhere, which we like a lot, it means users will be familiar with the service wherever they access it from. Netflix is continually updating the look and feel of the service subtly and recently introduced multi-user accounts on a single paid account. This is ideal for families who want to have all their watching behaviours un-intruded by fellow family members and friends. Netflix also recently introduced a Kids section to the service, this will ensure that your children won't get bored, the mass of content is outrageous.

To be able to dip into anything offered on Netflix without having to pay any extra money other than your monthly subscription is so utterly simple and overwhelming. It just feels like this is how TV should have always been. All devices are synced with Netflix, so should you begin watching Scary Movie 2 and dip into The Office (US) on your iPad while on the way to work, you can begin watching both exactly from the point you stopped watching at home via your PS3 in the evening.

Netflix has swept the UK like it has America. With a huge selection of TV Shows and movies, superb streaming in up to HD 1080P quality which doesn’t keep stopping to buffer, a nice universal user interface and the ability to watch everything when you want and where you want for just £5.99 a month. All this makes Netflix hard to resist and an unquestionable TV licence killer within the UK. Sign up today for a free 30 day trial.

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