Netflix Review: Online Video & DVD Rentals
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|Largest collection of unlimited streaming videos plus 30-day free trial make it the best online video site|
Netflix invented the online movie rental business in 1999 and has been a leader in rentals and streaming ever since. With over 100,000 titles, they offer more movies and TV shows than any other unlimited streaming business. Netflix's streaming option gives you instant and unlimited access to a large portion of their video library, and the mail delivery DVD service offers an even more comprehensive selection for users.
Netflix's pricing is simple: It's $7.99/month for unlimited streaming, with access to their over 100,000 videos. Netflix also provides a DVD-by-mail service that includes a wider selection of movies and TV shows that is also $7.99/month.
So can you get the DVD delivery service without the streaming? The Netflix site makes it seem like you have to buy both, but we called Netflix customer service and they told us that you can get a DVD-only subscription for only $7.99/month by going to DVD.com, which redirects you to the Netflix DVD-only site.
Netflix has the largest collection of unlimited streaming titles that we've seen from similar services, which include a slew of old and new, obscure and mainstream titles. They even have a great selection of current TV shows, although many of them don't include current episodes or seasons, like Hulu does.
For movies, Netflix offers a very, very wide range of titles, including recent releases like Captain America and Thor to older favorites like Arsenic and Old Lace and Sabrina. They even include cult classics like Donnie Darko and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The TV selection includes titles as mainstream as Mad Men to more obscure BBC shows like Sherlock or reality shows like Ice Road Truckers. They also have retired fan favorites like Cheers, Fraggle Rock and Saved By the Bell.
Netflix offers a variety of useful tools on their website, including free online movie trailers, critics' reviews, user reviews, friends' reviews, and a recommendation engine. Subscribers can also stream several thousand movies and TV episodes directly to a PC or Mac, or to a television through any of several Netflix-ready devices (see Viewing Options section below).
Most of the videos Netflix provides are shown in HD, so video quality is great, even on your smartphone or tablet. For the most part, the picture is always crystal clear, but for some of the older shows and movies, for instance the episode of "Murder, She Wrote" that we watched, the picture can sometimes become blurry or slightly distorted.
Netflix offers a slew of different ways to view their videos. The most popular way is by computer. You can either view videos directly on your computer or hook your computer up to your television so you can stream your favorite videos from your couch.
In addition to the traditional ways, there are many third-party devices that stream Netflix, each with its own interface. AppleTV and Roku are devices that are specifically used for streaming video on your TV. For those gamers who already have a gaming console hooked up to the TV, Playstation, XBox, and Wii all have Netflix interfaces that will let you stream video. And many Internet-ready TVs also include a Netflix app that will allow you to stream videos from Netflix.
If you are on the go, both Apple and Android offer apps that let you stream Netflix on your phone or tablet.
Netflix has two options for customer service: a toll-free number or a help page that has a lot of frequently asked questions or answers to common problems with the service. The help page has a search function to help you better locate an answer to your question, and most common questions are answered on the site.
If you have a specific question about your account, you can call the customer service toll free number. There is no automated menu (unless you need DVD rental help), which is nice, but we did have to wait for about five minutes for a live representative. Once we were connected, the representative was friendly and very helpful. Between the help page and the customer service number, we quickly found answers to all of our problems.
If you are constantly watching movies or like to watch an entire TV series at one time or just don't have cable and need an alternative, Netflix is perfect for you. Its unlimited streaming gives you access to thousands of TV shows and movies for just $7.99/month, which is a steal if you end up watching a lot of TV. All around, Netflix was the best streaming service we reviewed when it comes to price, selection and usability.
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