Netflix – what you need to know

Video on demand service Netfix launched in the UK earlier this year and has been steadily attracting viewers. But what do you get, how much is it and what do you need to get on board?

What do you need?

Netflix is one of the most well-supported video streaming services around. You can watch films via PC or Mac but you can also watch on iOS (iPhone, iPad Touch, iPad) Selected Android phones and tablets, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, several TVs and Blu-Ray players from LG and Samsung and media streaming boxes from Roku and D-Link. There are probably others.

On PC/Mac Netflix uses Microsoft’s Silverlight plugin to stream. Sadly, this means Linux users are out in the cold.

Given that you probably already own a Netflix-compatible device even if you don’t know it, the other requirement is a reasonably fast internet connection. Streaming adapts to your connection speed so if you want to watch in HD you will need at least a 5MB connection – higher if you want full 1080p resolution.

What do you get?

Netflix has a pretty good selection of films and TV programmes but as with any service there are gaps.

The movie selection is broad but again Netflix is subject to the Post-DVD window that most studios insist on and which means films hit DVD shelves before they become streamable. Brand new releases are thin on the ground although Netflix is trying to address this issue.

TV box sets are available for full series catch-up and you will probably find TV offerings to be much stronger than the movie selection.

Netfix is good at categorising films and finding something to watch is fairly simple. There is a recommendation engine which will suggest films based on your previous choices. If you have children the Just For Kids service will present a family-friendly version of Netflix that recommends films suitable for younger viewers. This has recently been made available on the Xbox 360 although some other platforms don’t offer it yet.

What does it cost?

Netflix has a completely flat pricing structure. You pay £5.99 for unlimited access to its library. One subscription is good for all your devices and you can even start watching on one and continue on another seamlessly.

If you are not convinced, Netflix offers a free one month trial in which you can stream as much as you like from the full library. Watch out for the full membership kicking in automatically at the end of the trial though.


About author
Stuart Houghton has been writing about technology for over a decade and messing about with it since he was old enough to press buttons. Stu is the former UK Editor of and specialises in tech writing for several UK publications. He is also part of the IT team for a major UK charity.

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