Netflix, the US online video-on-demand streaming giant, crossed the border into Canada on September 22, 2010 seeking to capitalize on the largely untapped online movie and television streaming market.
While Netflix Canada will not offer its flat-rate online DVD-video and Blu-ray Disc rental service at the moment as in the United States, it is providing a high-quality video streaming service to Canadians. .. but will it be? Enough to change the way we rent, shop, and watch our favorite TV episodes and movies?
When I first heard that Netflix was coming to Canada, I was very excited. I watch a lot of movies, mostly on my laptop after everyone else has gone to bed, and the concept of being able to watch any number of movies online at any time for less than the cost of 2 rental movies per month I found it pretty good. When Netflix Canada finally opened, I was a bit disappointed by the initial reviews that pointed to a limited selection of movies and TV episodes, and as a result, I postponed testing their service. I’d almost forgotten about it until one night a couple of weeks ago when I found myself without a movie to watch and decided to give Netflix a shot. For $ 7.99 a month for unlimited TV and movies online, what did you have to lose? It was an even easier sale once I got to Netflix’s login page (www.netflix.ca) to find out that they offer a 30-day free trial, with no obligation. After trying it for a week, I have to say that my only disappointment is that I didn’t sign up earlier.
How does Netflix Canada compare?
Let’s talk about your selection first, so we can get that out of the way! Netflix Canada currently offers a catalog of just over 7,000 titles, including movies, as well as some (emphasis on some) seasons of popular television shows. While they do have some pretty new releases, overall, Netflix’s movie offerings include a few blockbusters from recent years, a few classics (Clint Eastwood, John Wayne), and a healthy mix of lesser-known titles.
Compared to the 100,000+ movie titles available online to Netflix’s US subscribers, it’s not the gargantuan selection I was expecting. Apparently it all comes down to licensing issues and some legal red tape. However, I assume that Netflix is committed to its Netflix Canada subscribers and that they will add thousands more to their catalog as the year progresses. Just last week, they added several full seasons of popular TV series and I hope (hope) the same thing happens on the movie front.
Personally, I’m not the type to rush to rent the latest releases. I like to explore and try out different movies and watch some of my old favorites over and over again (some I’ve watched 10 times or more), so Netflix Canada has proven to be a little treasure, but for those who have to watch the latest Releases as they become available, Netflix, for the moment at least, may not be for you. Perhaps Pay Per Vu at $ 4- $ 7 per shot or your local video store is still your best option.
If, like me, you rent movies several times a week or buy DVDs from time to time, you owe it to yourself to give Netflix Canada a try. At $ 7.99 per month, I’ll save tons of money just on late fees and the convenience of not having to rush to the store is really nice. I’ve been testing it for a little over 2 weeks now and have seen about 20 movies since I first signed up.
What I like about Netflix!
One thing I really like about Netflix is that it asks you to rate the movies you’ve watched and offers personalized recommendations based on your responses. In fact, the whole suggestion system works quite well. I also like how well movies and TV shows are rated. Offerings are currently categorized into 20 genres and countless subgenres, allowing you to quickly identify what you want to watch.
Documentaries, action adventure, comedy, science fiction, romance – it’s all there!
Navigation on the Netflix site is easy and intuitive enough for anyone to use. There are also quite a few interactive features that offer additional information, reviews, and bios.
Hovering over the selections brings up a description and rating for each movie. Clicking on a title takes you to a page full of information and reviews from members and critics. I also like that you can click on the name of an actor or director to see their bio and a list of all their movies that Netflix currently has in their catalog.
So far I’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, The Eiger Sanction, the creepy Human Centipede, The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, and some recent releases that I had missed when they came out.
I haven’t seen Weeds or MadMen either, so I’m looking forward to starting watching soon as Netflix has a couple of seasons of these shows and quite a few more.
What about streaming Netflix online?
This is where Netflix shines. The system automatically detects your internet bandwidth speed and transmits accordingly. Video quality is DVD-video in full stereo (for 1.5 Mbps or better connections), better than DVD quality in full stereo (for 3 Mbps or better connections), and HD 720 or 1080 quality with stereo or full surround sound (for 6Mbps or better connections).
The Netflix video player is sleek, fast, and offers full-screen and minimized viewing modes. So far out of the 20 or so movies I’ve watched the player only stopped once to toggle the video quality to match the speed of my internet connection and that was while watching on my laptop over a connection wireless G with 3 bars. Suffice it to say, IMHO the quality of the video and sound provided is fantastic!
Can I watch Netflix only on my computer?
Netflix has several streaming and connection options. Currently Netflix Canada subscribers can watch on any Windows or Mac computer, Nintendo Wii – Microsoft XBOX 360 – Sony PS3 game consoles, Netflix compatible LCD – LED – Plasma TVs, a selection of Netflix compatible Blu-ray players , iPhone – iTouch and Blackberry devices.
imageIf you don’t have any of the above other than a computer, you can still watch your movies on your TV as long as you can connect your computer with VGA or HDMI cables. Most newer televisions offer this level of connectivity.
So what is the verdict?
Netflix’s current catalog is limited, especially when it comes to new releases, and that might be a deal breaker for some of you. Other than that, I can only say that the service is top-notch and I can’t imagine anyone but “new release” junkies who would think Netflix Canada is not a great convenience and value for money. Either way, I recommend that you sign up for Netflix for a 30-day free trial and decide for yourself!