Random rambles on the joys of the Netflix Instant View option.
Unless you’ve avoided most forms of media for the past several years, you probably already know about Netflix, the pay-per-month video rental service that has made it’s mark on households in the past decade and has given old fashioned video rental stores a run for their money.
Slower to become popular in my little corner of the world is Netflix’s Instant View option, which allows subscribers to stream video through their computer, their XBox 360, or their Wii. Netflix also offers viewing devices that can be purchased separately to attach to a television. Netflix Instant View has become my household’s main source of television entertainment.
When my fiance at the time (now husband) moved into our current apartment, we debated subscribing to cable. With him looking for a job and our budget changing with a higher rent, we decided to hold off until we could get things in order. Since he had an XBox 360 and a Gold membership, we decided to keep our Netflix so we had something to watch. That was three years ago and we’ve yet to get cable. In fact, we’ve had moments where we’ve had access to cable, like in a hotel room or at a friend’s house, and we’ll flat out wish we had our Netflix.
So what’s the appeal over regular cable? First, there’s the cost issue. Basic cable in our area would cost around fifty dollars, extended cable would cost around sixty, and if we wanted premium channels, like HBO or Showtime, we’d be heading into the hundred dollar area. Our local provider offers bundles with phone and internet, but none of them are cost effective for us and our needs. Our cost for Netflix per month is less than ten dollars and we have unlimited watching abilities plus one DVD mailed to us at a time. On the XBox, you have to have a 60 dollar a year Gold member ship (five a month) and of course internet. Considering how much we use internet for anyway, our television entertainment pays for itself in one weekend. (Wii or computer users don’t have the extra fee that comes with the XBox Gold Membership).
Then there’s the control issue. With Netflix, I can watch what I want, when I want. There are hundreds of movies and television shows to choose from. Rather than flip through channels several times, looking for something to watch or waiting for something to come on, I can find something and start it right away. I can also pause it when I need to get up and do something, and I don’t have to worry about commercials. I have a wide variety of things to draw from: horror, romance, indie, foreign, adventure, cartoons, and special interest videos are all available for whatever mood I happen to be in.
There are some smaller “perks” to using Netflix that aren’t exactly functional but are kind of fun. Some movies, when streamed through the XBox 360, can be watched as a “Party,” meaning you can watch with friends in other parts of the world who are also streaming Netflix through their 360. You can use your avatars to interact about the movie while you watch as well. For rating buffs, Netflix gives you the chance to give everything you watch a star rating, which they then use to recommend movies they think you’ll like. Also, it might sound silly, but one of my favorite things to do is surf the site to find what new movies and shows are released each week and add interesting ones to our queue.
As much as I love Netflix Instant View, it’s not a perfect system. Netflix doesn’t offer all their movies up for Instant View, so we’re sometimes a little bummed out if there’s something we really want to see but have to wait for. Sometimes we get a movie or show with poor quality in either audio or video, and there have been times when a movie has failed to play or the sound disappears altogether. These instances are few and far between, and as long as we report the problem, Netflix has fixed the problem right away or has given us a small discount on next month’s bill.
Not everyone can go without their regular up-to-date TV shows (I keep up on mine using Hulu, by the way), but for anyone looking for cheap entertainment, Netflix Instant View is the way to go.