I really like the idea of Netflix. You pay a flat fee of £5.99 a month and then you can stream movies and tv shows whenever you want them, over and over if you want, with no ads. So I thought I’d try it out (for free). The convenience of being able to watch whatever you want when you want is a great idea, and if it was ubiquitous I believe it’d cut down on piracy massively since it’s cheap and easy.
The bad news
Unfortunately there’s no linux client. Since most media servers are linux based this is a shame but it’s due to DRM dependencies. There was talk of there being a linux client and now talk that there won’t be, however a Chrome addon is likely to eventually support NetFlix on linux.
The other bad news
Although there’s clients for a variety of devices, including android tablets I can’t get the android client to work, I load it up and just see a spinning throbber endlessly.
The good news
The Wii client works well and was fun to browse. TV listings are well structured and programme fast-forwarding through thumbnails is great. Quality is ok and I loaded up a few FireFly episodes and enjoyed flicking around them. The quality wasn’t as good as my FireFly DVD though, so I turned off the Wii and put the DVD in my linux media centre to watch in my bedroom. If you’ve never watched FireFly it’s worth signing up for the free month trial just to watch it.
The really bad news
The choice is just terrible at the moment. I like rubbish movies, and even old rubbish movies which is good because that’s all there is. In terms of TV there’s just ancient stuff. Top Gear episodes from 2003-2009 (which is basically the Dave playlist minus QI) and some other things I can already get for free (or rather forced purchase) from BBC iPlayer. In terms of US tv shows the choice ranges from appalling to non-existent (Ok so there’s a couple of good shows but I’ve already seen them, notable popular shows not on Netflix UK include Bones, Castle, Supernatural, True Blood, Nikita, Eureka, The Mentalist, The Vampire Diaries, Glee, Game of Thrones, Fringe, Homeland etc). It is possible to pretend you’re in the US rather than the UK of course, since Netflix is just looking at your IP address, in which case the choice is much better but that’s probably considered cheating at best and is probably T’s and C’s violation. If you do proxy to the US you’ll find most of the shows I listed above are available.
It’s a bit like dusting off my own DVD collection of rubbish old films and old good tv boxsets. Maybe there’s a couple of things in there to enjoy during the free trial month but there’s no way I’ll be continuing my membership past the free trial which is a shame. I like the convenience, I’d like it even more if there was a linux client and the android client worked, but it all comes down to the library in the end which just isn’t good enough at the moment.
I’m hoping it’ll get better and I’ll happily sign up again.