Sunday, September 6, 2009

Switching to Netflix

About two months ago when my cable TV bills successfully broke through the $100 barrier and kept climbing up I started thinking about an alternative. I am rather a movie than a TV guy and I don't like to coordinate my time with the TV schedule. For the news I switched to the Internet a long time ago, so I did not really need the TV. Then Netflix caught my attention. I've heard about the company before, but it was mentioned mostly as a "DVDs by mail" service. Now they have a superior addition - internet streaming and that actually turns Netflix into a very attractive choice.

They still define the service as "DVDs by mail" for the first and streaming for the second, but from my interests streaming is the main feature and DVD is a great addition. For about $10 per month Netflix provides unlimited streaming and 1 DVD by mail. Streaming video quality with 5Mb/sec internet connection is on the level of regular standard definition (SD) TV or slightly higher which is satisfactory for me. With faster connection speed, as they say, quality is supposed to be better, but I did not check it. So my approach with Netflix is to order really spectacular movies on DVDs and watch everything else I like via streaming.

I've been with Netflix already for more than a month and my impressions are all positive. I can see many Netflix' advantages over TV:
  1. No schedule - watch when you want and as long or short as you want.
  2. Rich collection of movies and shows for streaming and it keeps growing. I would wish to see everything available via stream and I hope this is the future.
  3. DVD collection is huge.
  4. Both DVD and online collections have many movies from around the world - it's rare when you can catch an interesting non-American movie on American TV.
  5. Getting more for less money: with Netflix it is Internet from an ISP for $30 + Netflix itself for $10 per month; with cable TV and Internet bundle it is more than $100.
From all those above I was pleasantly surprised how rich Netflix's DVD and online collection is. I finally watched the beginning of "The Sopranos" (DVD), TV shows "Weeds" and "Lost" (both via stream), movies like Buñuel's "Un Chien Andalou", Antal's "Kontroll", Tykwer's "Lola rennt"... I'm going to make a list of my favorite movies and shows and indicate their availability at Netfilx.

Subscription to Netflix is very simple, no contract, they offer 2-week trial period for free - just be sure that you have proper equipment ready for streaming. In my case I have a media-PC running Microsoft Vista, I prefer to watch Netflix with MS Media Center, another possibility is MS Internet Explorer (but both work very well).


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