back to article Netflix vs Lovefilm

IPTV Week logo This month, at long last, US video streaming giant Netflix finally arrived on UK shores, with a £5.99 all-you-can-eat offering. It was swiftly matched by the local incumbent, Lovefilm. The Amazon-owned company pitched a streaming-only option at an introductory £4.99. But which is the best option for Reg …

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  1. ElNumbre
    Thumb Up

    Netflix...

    I'm trialling Netflix at the mo

    <<buffering>>

    ment, and am really enjoying the offering. However, they really need to add lots of recent movies. Sky have a better selection of 'current' movies on Anytime or on their scheduled tv service.

    Where Netflix has the edge is I can stop watching something on the eggsbox and pickup the Android tablet and continue watching there.

    I'm surprised Amazon don't have

    <<buffering>>

    this offering, shirley they'll need it to deliver movies to the Kindle Fire.

    Its just a shame I started experiencing the <<buffering>> issue last night - more on-device content caching please Netflix.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Strangely

      It works pretty well for me and I have a 1MB connection which is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I'm amazed it works at all really though picture quality is sub DVD but watchable.

      1. ElNumbre

        Upto 11

        I turned the quality upto the max, and until yesterday, I've not had a problem. For some reason, last night it buffered quite a lot, but my internet traffic wasn't too bad. I hope its just an isolated event. But I've never had a DVD do that, and when it happens, it highlights how irritating it is.

        But I do wish it had an offline mode like paid for Spotify, even if it was a 24hr thing, so I could watching a movie or tv show during my lunchbreak, without having to hunt down a wifi.

    2. Daniel 4

      "<<buffering>>"

      Actually, one of the things I like about Netflix is how well it seems to adjust to my available bandwidth. Between my laptop and my phone, I'm using their service away from the house/office as often as not, and while the quality does noticeably degrade when I'm in a bandwidth poor environment, it usually doesn't stutter and hang (e.g., YouTube).

      -d

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      Bufferering

      No problem here either. My children have now worked through all the episodes of the X-men cartoons with no issues.

      I really like it so far - but it does need more up to date movies - and how come Star Wars, Clone Wars and Transformers films not on there?

    4. Mark 65
      Pirate

      "I'm trialling Netflix at the mo

      <<buffering>>

      ment, and am really enjoying the offering. However, they really need to add lots of recent movies."

      Surely for that price per month the best option is always Usenet?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Lovefilm

        Trialling Lovefilm ATM.

        On the Xbox. I had cancelled my Gold account, this is required, so is another cost consideration if, like me, you are a single player gamer. (Found a 3 months Gold trial so got round that).

        Not a great range of films was my first thought.

        Did watch Source Code and Red. Quality is between Youtube and DVD, which on an HD TV used to Sky HD / Blurays takes a couple of minutes to get used to. No different though than many (legal of course) downloads. And it is on standard broadband going through wireless 802.11G (Landlord wont wire the house for ethernet).

        Was expecting a lot more choice and a lot more recent releases.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some Other Factors.

    I currently have both and found these differences...

    New arrivals:

    This week Lovefilm has 2. Netflix the new releases section looks the same as it always has, so presumably no new content since launch day.

    Finding Films:

    Lovefilm has lots of filtering to drill down to what you want. Netflix present about a dozen categories, chosen by them, with about a dozen films in each, again chosen by them.

    Customer Support:

    Lovefilm has forums, e-mail, the works. Netflix is phone only.

    Having said all that, if I had to pick one It would be Netflix for the vastly superior streaming quality. Check out Tokyo Gore Police on both services to see how big the difference can be.

    Currently a better option than either of them is the local video shop. Or if you want everything an on-line service should be, try The Pirate Bay. These two streaming services are not ready yet.

    One last thought.

    Could the film industry PLEASE STOP SIGNING EXCLUSIVE DEALS WITH DISTRIBUTION SERVICES. You're limiting your audience for a quick initial profit.

    1. David Licence

      "Could the film industry PLEASE STOP SIGNING EXCLUSIVE DEALS WITH DISTRIBUTION SERVICES. You're limiting your audience for a quick initial profit."

      Exactly this. It's clear that the studios have learnt absolutely nothing from the last decade of watching what has happened to the music industry. A service that gives me only half of the content I am interested in is pointless and is the reason I haven't signed up for either Lovefilm or Netflix yet. A service that gives me most (maybe not all - Spotify-ish) is much more enticing.

      1. Malcolm 1

        I agree entirely about the infuriating exclusivity agreements. Would be nice if all content firms were required to offer content to any interested parties on equal terms - much like the "Fair, Reasonably and Non-Discriminatory" (FRAND) patent licensing terms required by some standards organisations. Then the streaming companies would have to compete on quality and features which would be better for consumers.

        For my money the absolute best streaming quality I've encountered so far (having also tried LoveFilm, Film4OD, PS3, Virgin Media FilmFlex etc) is the Microsoft Zune Video on the XBox 360 - the HD films are practically indistinguishable from Blu-Ray and no stuttering or buffering to be seen. Cursed by being priced in Microsoft Points of course, and good luck finding any Sony pictures films in the catalogue.

        1. Oliver 7
          Pirate

          Thanks for the sane comments! It's one thing to review these services against each other, it's another thing entirely to question the entire distribution paradigm. The author's solution?

          "So, which should you go for? Ultimately, it will probably be the content that’s the decider for many. Of course, you could pick both, and still not be breaking the bank."

          AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!! How about I choose a service that's completely free and offers me unlimited access to any film or other media I wish to choose, most probably in any format I choose?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    exclusive deals

    its about time movie rentals were made available on the open market through city index. Then the movie companies could actually find out just how many more sales you can make when markets are open.

    Exclusive deals just mean some movies I won't see as I am a creature of habit. Truthfully my local blockbuster beats all of this for current and relevant content.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the quality?

    How does the picture quality compare to SD TV, DVD or BluRay?

    What's the buffering like? Do it pause, or does it drop quality. Can you FF and RW?

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Up

      Quality

      On the devices we use:-

      Wii: Hardwired network: 480p component into a 42" LG TV: Obviously SD quality, but considerably superior to Freeview. Though Freeview is 576p, the compression artefacts give a much lower subjective resolution. No problems with buffering or quality drop.

      Android: HTC Sensation: Very good quality on the phone, but appears blocky when plugged into the HDMI dock (same TV as above). Does seem to drop quality occasionally (becomes pixelated) rather than stopping to buffer.

      In comparison to the other VOD service on those two devices (BBC iPlayer), it is *far* superior with regard to quality and reliability.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quality variations

      I am subscribed to both (Netflix just to try it out to compare, Lovefilm for a while).

      Having watched streamed films from both offerings on our 52 inch TV I have to say that the Netflix HD quality movies are far superior to the fuzzy offerings from Lovefilm. In fact I tend to get blu-rays from Lovefilm rather than watch online (even though I have unlimited online viewing with my package) because the quality is so poor in comparison to a bluray or even a dvd. I meant it is perfectly watchable but I am now used to the sharpness and details of blu rays and the Lovefilm SD quality stream is less than DVD quality with visible artefacting and blocking on 52" TV. The Netflix HD (last night watch Drive Angry which I also have on blu ray just to compare) and I would be hard pushed to tell the difference between the stream and the blu ray.

      On the buffering side, we have up-to-8Mbit broadband from BT. Both Lovefilm and Netflix work very well. Only a handful of times have I seen a "buffering" issue with Lovefilm whilst watching a movie. With Netflix I have only seen something like that happen when I fast forward and then play. The quality drops to a move lovefilm-like blockiness for a few seconds and then goes back to being HD quality. Which is an interesting difference between the two services. Lovefilm pauses the picture and says "buffering" whilst netflix drops quality but carries on playing. Which is preferable is perhaps up to personal taste but I think the netflix approach is better.

      Also the fact that Lovefilm has more films is very misleading. Despite my unlimited package many of the available films are still pay-for online viewing rather than free which with netflix obviously is not the case as everything they have is included (note I am not on lovefilm's streaming package I am on their 3 disks at once including unlimited online viewing package so this might be why I don't get all online films for free). An example is Drive Angry - watched it on netflix last night in great HD quality. Tried it on Lovefilm only to not be shown that it is available on my TV at all and when looking on my computer it is available but for a fee of £3.49 which is a joke given the whole streaming service is meant to be £4.99 so they want almost a whole month's streaming rental to watch just one film which is free on netflix!

      I have to admit I am going to stick with Lovefilm as their blu ray selection is great and netflix still does not have a huge amount of movies. But if/when netflix expand their movie library I will definitely consider switching. For now, I am sticking with blu rays though...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        wow that

        aia21 said on Thursday 26th January 2012 09:31 GMT#

        That is some essay, you must have a lot of time on your hands!

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      It doesn't compare

      "How does the picture quality compare to SD TV, DVD or BluRay?"

      An HD streaming movie will look better than a DVD but it won't be a patch on a genuine blu ray disk. A streaming SD movie will look about the same as a DVD but occasionally may look worse. That's in optimal conditions. If your broadband is slow then you won't get HD at all and the SD will be degraded too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A HD streaming movie will look better than a DVD?

        > An HD streaming movie will look better than a DVD

        Really? The bitrate for DVD can be pretty high, and delivered from disk there will be no network throttling, shaping, congestion etc.

        On a BT upto 10Mbps connection, but in reality max 4Mbps, can these online services really stream true HD content?

        I guess my question is on an average connection is the end user likely to get a better, worse or same quality as DVD?

        1. Al Jones

          The Bitrate for a DVD is high, but it is used to deliver MPEG2 data. More modern codecs such as those used when streaming can provide better than MPEG2 quality images in a smaller data stream.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have been trialling Netflix.

    It's rubbish. The quality is poor for 'HD' and their catalogue is inadequate. There's no Linux support either, so it fails my test of being able to play stuff I've bought when and where I want it.

    I want these things to be good, really, I do.

    1. Joseph Lord

      What's your bandwidth?

      I've found the picture quality pretty impressive and I'm pretty fussy about over compressed images. I do notice that if you press SELECT on the PS3 it tells you which stream you are watching and it starts lower and quickly increases on my connection. I can notice significant errors on the initial streams. High / SD, Medium / HD, High / HD, X-High / HD at which point it's not Blu-ray but it's pretty good.

      Would be nice to have it on the TV (Sony) without having the PS3 on but I'll live with it for the quality to be better than Lovefilm and it's much better TV series coverage. I might keep Lovefilm up at a low number of discs to get new Blu-rays.

      Not bothered abou PC usage myself, if I'm going to watch films or TV I will use the TV.

    2. Captain Underpants

      @AC 08.40

      What's your broadband like? I'm on a 50MB Virgin Media cable service and the limiting factor for display quality is either the playback device (when using it on the Wii) or the screen (my home TV is 720p-only, desktop PC can do full HD).

      As for the Linux support, I agree it's cack but calling a streaming service like Netflix or Lovefilm something you've "bought" is to misunderstand the nature of a rental service. And it's not exactly like they lied about having Linux support, not that this helps much.

  6. Afx
    Meh

    Signed up for Lovefilm instant on Sunday, cancelled today. There just wasn't enough worthwhile content, with at least 50% being B movie crap. I didn't expect up to date blockbusters but surely there are enough quality older movies, that they wouldn't have to resort to the kind of rubbish they put on there.

    To be fair there were a few very good films on there and some quality lesser known ones, but they were few and far between. The one upside was that i had it running on my sony blu ray player, and the user experience was actually quite good. If they can improve the quality of their offerings then i will consider re-subscribing.

    As for Netflix, well i'd love to try it out, but the only device i have, aside from my PC, that supports it is a Wii, and i really dont fancy using that. I know Sony blu ray players/tv's in the US support netflix, so hopefully we can get that support over here too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Expect the same from Netflix.

      If you are expecting movies that are on in the cinema, expect to be disappointed.

      If you are expecting movies that are out on Sky Movies, expect to be disappointed.

      If you are expecting movies that are just out on DVD, expect to be disappointed.

      Streaming for BOTH services are the movies that companies have already extracted all possible profit from from existing outlets.

      If you want recent movies, then LoveFlim movies by post is the only option....

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        I'm two weeks into the Netflix trail and so far the only real value I've gotten from the service is being able to watch the first two series of Breaking Bad. After that I've watched a couple of indie films (which were ok but not outstanding) and a few b-movies I haven't seen in a long time, a few old Mythbusters episodes and I think I've exhausted all the content I am interested in watching already.

        Streaming quality is ok, but as a whole, the service is uninspiring...

        1. Not That Andrew

          Yeah, in my experience LoveFilm has a great DVD/Blueray catalogue but a pisspoor streaming catalogue.

        2. Malcom Ryder 1

          madmen

          A great series, if it's on netflix U.K.

          Netflix is best with TV series

          also, the first season of Weeds

  7. Andy Neale
    Thumb Down

    No mention of any facilities for Hearing impaired?..

    ..I was expecting a comprehensive review, No mention if subtitles are available on streaming content, or if there were any buffering issues at peak times. This has told me very little above what the product offerings are.

    1. Big_Ted

      @ Andy Heale re subtitles

      Netflix has subtitles available, dn't know about lovefilm.

      Just sign up to Netflix for a trial, you get 1 month free and see if its good enougth for your needs.

    2. Mark 66
      WTF?

      Why were you expecting a comprehensive review? This is the reg after all. The review is fine - helped me decide. Thanks.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Some subtitles in Netflix

      Some films have subtitles but I expect it depends on where they got their content from. Some foreign films also have alternative audio tracks, e.g. dubbed English and original.

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        "Closed Captions"

        I was very surprised with the subtitles for "Breaking Bad". They were censored while the program wasn't... not something I've seen before... is this standard practice in the US?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Pretty much standard practice in the US - they can show someone's brains being blown out, up close, in slow-motion, with action replay, but they can't say "shit".

          As the say "only in America......"

  8. Eponymous Cowherd

    Netflix

    Better quality and can be used on 5 of our devices (Windows PC, Wii, 2 Android phones and an iPhone 3GS). LoveFilm only works on the Windows box.

    Of course, as Bill Gates (IIRC) once said, "content is King". If Netflix don't add some decent new content I won't be renewing.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative?

    TPB?

    No monthly charge, full HD dowloads, releases before they are released and best of all,

    A free holiday in the USA!

  10. JDX Gold badge

    @Andy Neale

    Reviewing "if there were any buffering issues at peak times" is rather pointless and in fact misleading, when NetFlix has only just launched and therefor as yet has hardly any users (relatively).

    It's offering a free month trial so I'd advise trying it out on your own configuration as being the only real way to see for sure.

    Regarding subtitles, a simple search for "Netflix hearing impaired" will help you. For instance:

    http://gigaom.com/video/netflix-captions-lawsuit/ from 6 months ago (do your own research to see if it's improved since)

  11. Tsung
    Meh

    Currently using Netfilx but there are issues.. My biggest one being the recommended for me category, if it picks someone I do not like there appears to be no way to remove it. Currently it's recommending shameless (c4) which I'm sure is good but isn't my cuppa tea. I tried rating it 1 star (Hate It), I've tried to find a "don't recommend this title" but it shows up every time in my recommended for me selection. This alone will make me cancel my Sub.

    Other issues I've noticed since using it.. I enjoy watching Anime, I swear the number of titles in that Category have been reduced since I started watching it. There is no search by category (Anime / Comedy Films). Publish to Facebook is annoying glad I didn't sign up using Facebook login but my friends have so now I have to endure their Netflix Spam.

    I've mainly been watching titles on my Xbox & Android Tablet. So maybe there are options on the PC version to fix these issues.. I dunno..

    1. Captain Underpants

      @Tsung

      The options you get re: recommendations seem to vary based on the device you use. On the Wii I only get the choice to rate stuff I've seen or that they recommend, but on the website interface there's a "not interested" option. I've been making a point of spending 10 or 15 minutes now and again going through their library to tell them about stuff I've liked or disliked, just to try and get the recommendations up to snuff.

      1. Big Ben

        As with Captain Underpants on the xbox there is no option to mark as not interested but I have been on the website and been marking them not interested there. It seems to help.

        I signed up using my facebook account but the first thing I did was log onto facebook and through the app settings remove the right for Netflix to post to my timeline. As yet I haven't had any posts from them. (Good thing as I'm not sure I want the world plus dog to see my taste in cheesy 80's movies.)

  12. Richard Wharram

    TV Series?

    I take it Netflix coverage of TV series won't allow me to get rid of Sky (Atlantic in particular) ?

    I really want to get rid of Sky but Boardwalk Empire was too good.

    1. John King 1

      Is Boardwalk Empire worth £400/yr?

      Seriously, I'd consider getting hold of a dodgy version from somewhere or just waiting for the box set.

      1. Richard Wharram

        Fair point.

        Well made.

        :(

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An article about movie rental without the customary Reg plug for Ultraviolet? Did you guys forget this time, or something?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3 page review condensed down:

    Netflix has slightly higher quality content than Lovefilm. Netflix might have more series while Lovefilm might have more movies. Otherwise they're pretty much the same.

  15. SAP Bod

    Lovefilm for me

    I'm sticking with Lovefilm. I'm *STILL* waiting for the Netflix app to appear on my PS3 despite trying all the tricks to get it to appear plus the streaming of Netflix via my AppleTV buffers way more than it should considering I'm on 30Mb cable. This is a shame as NF have a *much* better selection of kids TV which was one of the primary uses I was putting it too.

    Lovefilm on the other hand gives us physical disc rentals which are still king in my book, and for those off occasions I need it the streaming via PS3 / iPad *works* whereas I'm struggling with Netflix buffering issues and lack of PS3 app. This is a real shame as I'd initially decided to keep both just for the kids TV, but I'm really not impressed with Netflix I'm afraid.

    1. Adam T
      Thumb Up

      Lovefilm +1

      I even haven't tried the Netflix trial - I was instantly put off by it making itself out to be available to only Facebook users (sod that!) ... I didn't even dig deeper to see if that was true, because instead I checked out their video collection, and unless there's more to browse when you have an account, it was nothing short of woeful. As another Netflix review warned, "you already may have most of these titles in your VHS collection.".

      I've been with Lovefilm for over a year now; this means I've had an extra disc added to my account (now 4 discs, unlimited streaming). This is easily more than enough for me, and I'm never short of something to watch. I've a 4Mb/s connection at my current abode, and streaming quality is fine on both TV (@63" it's perfectly decent) and on iPad.

      One thing I'd really like to see is more TV series...a LOT more TV series...but then I tend to not watch them when they're on telly, and buy the box sets anyway, of those I really want. So anything else would just be things I don't care enormously about.

  16. crabcakes
    Thumb Up

    Netflix definitely

    Am testing both. Lovefilm have a few good recent films but as soon as you start to drill down there is precious few worth considering. Netflix has an order of magnitude better TV. And their library titles of films are far superior. Also Lovefilm doesn't necessarily work every time (testing on Mac and iPad). Netflix has worked every time and works better for me than iPlayer (on my painfully slow network with average 8.5Mb/s)

  17. TonyHoyle

    Thanks el reg

    Reminded me to cancel Netflix.. I nearly forgot.

    Terrible selection of films, and in the week I've had it I've not found one that I'd actually watch that hasn't already been on TV. They need to up their game a *lot*.

  18. DrXym Silver badge

    Content is the problem

    I'm messing around with the Netflix free month on the PS3. It works, and produces a tolerably good picture on my meagre broadband. The software is fairly basic though, e.g. it shows you a handful of movies of each genre it thinks you like and forces you to navigate around a lot. I'd like to be zoom out and see more movies at once. I'd also like to see what new content if any is appearing. I'd also like to be able to clear my recently watched list so kids shows and adult shows are not mixed together.

    More serious is the content selection is pretty limited. I don't know how many titles they boast of having (and by title I don't mean individual series episodes) but it feels like a thousand tops, most of which is 50p for 7 days rental stuff. Back catalogue films, early series of TV shows and so on and the selection isn't that huge.

    There are some good films and TV shows to be found all right but basically it's the sort of stuff you'd see on terrestrial TV.

    It's not a hugely expensive service but I see it becoming boring if the amount of content does not improve.

  19. Atonnis
    Stop

    Crap

    I tried out Lovefilm on the basis of a flyer, then discovered that it wanted me to first sign-up and pay - making it not a trial but an introduction - and then I couldn't find a way to unsubscribe (fortunately I checked before I put any details into the system) and it turns out you have to contact them separately and rely on their customer service to do it manually.

    Screw that. If I can't instantly subscribe/unsubscribe and they deliberately mislead on their advertising they can stuff their products where the sun don't shine.

    I'm not the only one who noticed this either - talking around my department at work a few people have had exactly the same experience - none of them will subscribe now.

  20. Bassey

    Makes my mind up for me

    I subscibe to Blockbuster rental-by-post. They have just sent me the last two Harry Potter films on BluRay to watch this weekend. All the comments above lead me to believe, for films, I'm better off sticking with what I have for now. I'll look again next year.

  21. Greg J Preece

    I just cancelled my LoveFilm account last night. Had issues with discs that had obviously been buffed to look new, but didn't work properly, and I personally thought the streaming service's selection was crap. I mean look at your own screenshots - Highlander: The Source, for fuck's sake? They don't even have the one good movie from that series!

    Might trial Netflix on my PS3, but I'm not holding out hope. Maybe in a few years when the libraries have increased in size somewhat. I couldn't give two shits about the latest Michael Bay monstrosity - I want to watch *good* movies (which probably means movies from before 2000).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I cancelled my LoveFilm account...

      ...when they stopped sending discs on the order I'd asked for, and worse, started to send discs within a series in the wrong order.

  22. ssu

    Poor sound quality with Netflix 5.1

    I did not realise it was supposed to be DD Plus. Through the xbox client I watched Expendables and it looked impressive but the audio, I thought, sounded very poor - more like ProLogic than anything else. To me the audio is a very important part of a film and neither service seems to care.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Problem here

    is customer expectations.

    They are expecting recent movie releases for streaming. Neither Loveflim nor Netflix offer this. Only Loveflim movies by post offers this, and considering it's only a couple of quid more than Netflix, surely it's a no brainer.

    I have a Loveflim subscription which works out at £2.50 more than Netflix a month, and for that, I get unlimited streaming, unlimited Blu-Ray's, 2 at a time. If I want to upgrade and add games at any time - i can, if I want to downgrade- I can, if I want to suspend my account - i can.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Loveflim wins hands down for me.

    Simply because for £3 more a month, I get everything Netflix offers, plus I get unlimited Blu-Ray's by post of all the latest movies. It's even cheaper if you pay up front (5-15% cheaper, depending on how much in advance you want to comit to). Added to that, the fact Loveflim includes Games by post, and I can upgrade, downgrade or even freeze my account and payments, make it VASTLY superior.

    It's such a shame this article totally ignores these important Loveflim points, and simply reviews Lovefilm bits than Netflix has.

    Also to call Netflix (or any streaming service) HD is rather misleading, as the amount of compression used makes it worse than DVD,

  25. Spandy

    Does Lovefilm still do that thing on the PS3 where if you browse all films A-Z iin a genre it only shows 100 results?

    Really annoying if you want to see what sci-fi films are avaliable that start with the letter "S"

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LoveFilm wins for me... for now...

    I've been using the LoveFilm streaming & rentals for about 14 months now, in the house we have a Sony TV wired directly to the router in the living room and a Sony BR player in our bedroom on wifi along with the usual collection of desktops and laptops belonging to the various household members and connecting inn various ways, our internet connection averages about 9MB. Unfortunately all the desktops / laptops run one form of Linux or another so they were shafted by the switch to silverlight, but prior to that we found we could stream different movies to 3 or 4 devices simultaneously without any issues, playback starts almost instantly. The BR player connected via wifi streams everything flawlessly with only about a 4-5 second delay before playback starts, my laptop only gets ~50% signal strength in that room. The content changes very regularly as well, with some of it being available periodically (for a month or so) and some being 'permanent'.

    What's even better is if your with Natwest you can actually get the unlimited streaming plus unlimited BR & DVD rentals (two at home at a given time) for £4 a month, or the unlimited streaming only package for free, by upgrading to a silver account. Ok so the silver account costs £8 a month but you also get 5 MP3s each month from 7Digital, mobile phone insurance, and unlimited access to your experian credit report (including the identity theft assistance etc) so an absolute bargain in my view! :-)

  27. Snark

    I've had Lovefilm for awhile and am trialling Netflix. Some random thoughts. It's annoying the lovefilm "£4.99 streaming only for a year" i only for new subscribers. As an existing subscriber, if I drop down to it it's £5.99 so comparable to Netflix.

    Lovefilm online content has been terrible for ages (if you don't want to pay per view on new releases). Netflix coming along seems to have given them a kick and they have started getting some newer releases. It's also noticable they have just signed with ABC so have suddenly added a whole load of series (Castle, etc) which is encouraging (though annoying as I prefer Netflix).

    Netflix is never going to go for "new" releases on films and tv, they've said it's just not economical on a "all you can eat" package. They are always going to add things post the movie companies getting their money from DVD rentals/sales. For now, they seem to have a wider back catalogue than Lovefilm, so stuff to take your interest but not the way to replace upto-date DVD rental or Sky/Virgin.

    The Netflix website is simple, clean, and whilst yes its missing things like forums and such, it doesn't feel like I'm pulling teeth out. The Lovefilm website is just horrible to browse through. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I can browse Netflix on my PC, find what I want and do a quick search on the Xbox to get it up. The Netflix apps have a few annoyances and I have seen some random buffering issues, but not sure if this was down to net speed or netflix suffering (as it was a sunday night, no one was on tv). Generally though it's been flawless and the picture quality good.

    So at the moment, the ideal would be both. Lovefilm for DVD + newer releases streaming, Netflix for large back catalogue. In the end one will win out for me, and it's looking towards Netflix if they can add more content. Obviously it's early days so nothing new has been added in the two weeks they've been open, but they are promising a bunch more TV series "in the next couple of days" on their facebook page. What comes on will probably decide a lot of people whether to stay with the trial.

    I agree with everyone who says exclusive content deals is totally unhelpful to the media studios campaigns to get people to buy/rent/pay and not pirate.

  28. chiller

    Giving Netflix a try at the moment and the picture quality is pretty good. The selection is pretty poor, kind of like when you rummage around in the bargain DVD bin at your local Spar.

    Enjoying misfits at the moment though I will cancel before the trial end, Robocop 1,2 and 3 .. that is scraping the bottom of the barrel IMO.

  29. seanj
    Thumb Up

    Netflix + PS3 + DNS tweak...

    I've signed up to the Netflix trial, and like many others found their offering pretty poor for the UK market - this could be down to the fact that it's a new service, it could be down to digital boundary enforcement by dumb-ass distributors.

    I heard about a quick DNS change in my PS3's network settings, which has now given me full access to the US catalogue, and it's now totally worth the £6 a month. I've no idea (not being a networky techie) if the dns change will affect my online gaming or PSN Store offerings - not that I use either very much, but for the sake of a dead quick amendment to the network settings (which could also be applied at router level to affect every machine on your network), it's opened up a whole raft of movie and tv choices...

    Anyway, that's my experience and if it helps anyone else, then best of luck to you.

  30. Lunatik

    Trialling Netflix here for a month, then I'l try Lovefilm, then pick one.

    Netflix actually quite good and the range content seems to have expanded since day one in UK. I'm also liking the programme/series state maintenance, even between devices.

    However, even though I've got 40Mb BT Infinity I still get <<buffering>> from time to time - either due to number of freetards at the moment (% will inevitably drop over time) or because of 'buffer bloat', I'm not sure.

    Quality on SD is surprisingly good, but as I've got an AMD Fusion-powered HTPC and Silverlight doesn't currently support DXVA hardware acceleration, HD is a slideshow. Shame, as this is a big minus for Netflix, especially considering the Flash acceleration is flawless so I'd expect Lovefilm to be fine for HD...if it ever arrives!

    As others have said though £6/mo for Netflix makes the £12/mo for the BBC look like stonkingly good value.

    1. Not That Andrew
      Facepalm

      Lovefilm also use Silverlight

  31. jason 7
    FAIL

    Using anything with the new Xbox 360 interface...

    ....is nigh on hopeless without a bloody Kinnect. As I'm 40 I refuse to buy such a thing.

    Worst user interface the 360 has ever had. Awful.

    Hitting back a couple of times then takes you to a "Go back in icon" that just takes you back to where you wanted to leave. The whole across the top and then up and down...christ.

    FFS!

  32. Kristian Walsh

    Netflix is missing a "favourite list"...

    I've used the Wii and web versions of NetFlix a few times (no LoveFilm here in Ireland), and I've one big gripe with the user experience:

    While trawling through the movies, I'll often see one that might be a possibility, but not a "yes, I'll watch that right now". Thing is, there's no way to just mark that one, continue looking, and maybe come back to it. I've either got to watch it now, or remember exactly where it was in the list so that I can manually navigate back to it later.

    Those old enough to remember real-world video/DVD rentals will realise what I'm looking for is the equivalent of picking up three or four titles while I walk around the shop, and then deciding on which one to watch at the very end.

  33. HP Cynic

    Sticking to Cinema Paradiso here (about the only DVD Rental Club that's not actually Love Film in disguise)

    Unlimited monthly Blu-Rays, 2 at a time at £12.99 (15% off for pre-paying 3 months) seems good for now. They claim the usual 70K catalogue and so far only 1 of my choices was absent from this list.

    Netflix is a company I just don't trust after the giant, scamtastic mess they made of their US market and it sounds like the Love Film streams are too poor quality. Love Film also scammed me on an "Free Trial" a few years ago so I've steered clear ever since.

    Like others I will re-investigate in a few months to a year.

  34. squilookle
    Meh

    I love the idea if these and now have a broadband connection fast enough, but they each seem to have very big flaws in them that could be resolved if you could get the best of both worlds by merging them...

    Netflix - it would be nice if the Browse Selection section of the website actually let you do that, rather than just showing a few things from each category, lack of new films

    Lovefilm - I'm dubious about this whole "introductory" price thing, and charges for newer films, I keep reading that the quality is inferior and some films are absent from some devices but not others

    I'm tempted to give the trials a go on both of them and see how I get on, but I just like the idea. I don't actually *need* such a service - I don't watch all that much television anyway.

  35. g e

    Netflix won in our house

    Have both on the PS3, Lovefilm was clunky unintuitive and had no search (maybe they do now they have competition but a fail is a fail).

    Netflix UI is nicer, has lots of TV shows and a better selection of movies than Lovefilm had last time I could be arsed to load it's ugly ass up and fail to find anything I wanted to watch.

    Lovefilm's getting canned, don't care about disc rentals.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is going to hurt Sky - the whole market is moving to on-demand (so people will not care about Sky Plus) and Sky are not keeping up.

    £6/mo for Netflix and most people will already have a Xbox, PS3 or Apple TV (plus others) that can access the content - compared to about £35-40 for a SD Sky package with movies and £10 more for HD. Yes you get some newer movies on Sky Movies but if you have an Apple TV / Xbox etc. you can usually 'rent' those for £2.49-£3.49 a time. Or pay £10/mo for Lovefilm and get the new movies via DVD / Bluray included.

  37. jason 7
    Meh

    Started using Love Film online a few weeks ago.

    I have a 16Mbps ADSL link and picture quality is pretty good. Only get a bit of pixelation when something goes really crazy on screen.

    Not that much different to Freeeview. The only criticism is as mentioned previously navigating the collection is really horrendous and time consuming. A lot of gems are really hidden away if you are just browsing.

  38. Kevin7

    Goodbye Netflix

    Had my Netflix account for about three days. Looked worse than the bargain bin at HMV. What a disaster. If I want to watch ancient films or TV series I'll use Freeview.

  39. Brian Gannon

    US Netflix Content

    I have been using this to access US content, not sure of the legality but works great. The range is much larger than the UK offering. I simply just changed my DNS server on my wireless router to theirs and all my devices now access US content

    http://www.unblock-us.com

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    VPN is your friend..

    One of the "hidden" features of a Netflix account is that you're able to access US, Canada and other regional content when you're travelling without any additional charge (as yet!). Consequently all you need a VPN service with servers in these countries and you can stream content from a catalogue that outdoes the UK service considerably.

    If your router supports VPN capabilities, then there should be no problems accessing US and Canadian content from TVs or set-up boxes.

    It's a bit of a cheat and possibly quite naughty, but perhaps if the rights holders can see the demand for particular content in the US and Canada being accessed from UK accounts - perhaps, maybe, Netflix UK will prioritise the purchase rights for them.

    To be honest, I'd pay double the current cost for Netflix UK to help bring the US and Canadian content over the UK - if it would help fund that. As it is, the UK content isn't bad (at least 4-5 months of content that is of interest to me at the moment) so I will almost certainly be sticking with it.

  41. Walmo
    Holmes

    Netflix for streaming Lovefilm for other stuff

    If you're purely after a streaming service then go with Netflix, it's investing significant amounts of money in acquiring content for it's UK service, which will mean in the next few months it will start to be comparable with Sky in terms of availability of movies/TV and as described the quality of streaming is decent. At present Lovefilm is not investing that kind of money so will generally only be streaming library titles (stuff that's a couple of years old or more) and again as described the streaming quality is only passable.

    On the other hand Lovefilm (which I'm a subscriber of) is great if your happy to keep it old school and use physical media, particularly if you use it for renting games (which I do.)

    Incidentally the Lovefilm interface trialled above is horrible and is the same as the PS3 interface, however there is much improved interface for the Xbox360 which hopefully will roll out on other devices sooner or later.

    I imagine if Netflix makes major in roads in the UK, then we'll see Amazon pony up some more money to make sure Lovefilm competes in terms of quality of titles, particularly if they see it as a way to push their Kindle Fire devices

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Definition of Unlimited ?

    Lovefilm is great but its not unlimited as you have to wait for the return to be processed and the postal service between films!

    On 2x Disc "Unlimited"

    Disc1 - A game so you will be playing it

    Disc2 - A film - Watch the film at the weekend, send it back Monday you wont get the next film on your door mat until Weds/Thu, so you can only manage about 4-5 turnarounds a month. Its not like you can state on the website I've watched it, its in the post send me another film!

    At Christmas you are lucky to get a turnaround inside of 1-2weeks depending on how the bank holidays fall between Christmas/New Year and the postman gets out of bed.

    Finally if you get a free film credit, they wont ship out your next title, until Disc2 and the free film have both been returned.

    All in all, the best at the moment but could do better!

    1. Lunatik

      Get the 3 disc package, it's only an extra few quid per month but allows you to view significantly more films.

      Slow turnaround can occasionally still frustrate, but in terms of return for the relatively small amount extra it is worth it.

      Interestingly, on checking current prices (I was a LF subscriber, via Tesco, a few years ago) I notice the white label services like Tesco are now more expensive than standard LF prices. The opposite used to be true.

      And of course for new subscribers there are still all those discount vouchers floating around if you just want a few months cheap before cancelling.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netflix is on the Apple TV so that's a big plus.

  44. brakepad
    FAIL

    Uninspiring

    I was going to look into one of these services, but it seems that they fall hopelessly short on two main factors; content, which should be the same as what you can get from a rental store, and quality, which, and this sounds familiar, should be the same as what you can get from a rental store.

    I have no idea why the content isn't the same online as instore/disc delivery - if the argument is anything to do with piracy then it doesn't make sense as pirated copies will be available at least as soon as the disc are.

    Regarding quality, it would be infinitely better if these offered an optional download like the iPlayer rather than just streaming. Even if it's time-limited & DRM'd to the hilt, it's still more flexible than a stream, no less flexible than sending discs by snail mail, and would allow BluRay quality films over slower connections. It also gives people like me the choice to download it in my off-peak period, and there would be no buffering, which I wouldn't tolerate in a cinema or on TV so why would I tolerate it during a film?

    If they offered this for £6 a month I'd bite their hand off, and I suspect a lot of other people would too.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Lovefilm is great but its not unlimited as you have to wait for the return to be processed and the postal service between films!"

    Believe you can pay a bit more for even more discs - unlimited movies 2 discs at a time is £10 a month, 3 discs at a time just £3 more. I have the 2 disk option and typically get 2 every week but that is well enough as could not watch more than 2 films with everything else as well.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If they offered this for £6 a month I'd bite their hand off, and I suspect a lot of other people would too."

    Maybe that's why it's just £6/month. I regard it as a bargain for all the films / TV episodes you could watch. When people are paying £40-50 for a Sky subscription...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "BluRay quality" would require you to download up to 50Gb worth of data to each film you watch - for most broadband connections that is just not realistic.

    Most (compressed) HD content is around 3-6Gb and while not BluRay quality is pretty good.

  48. janimal

    not interested in subscription

    They both sound terrible. I first used an online streaming service when I lived in the US in 2002. I forget the name of it but it was free to register. There were several 'indie' films available for free and a small number of more mainstream movies for a small fee ~ $2 - $3

    I first watched Ghost Town & Memento on that service (I couldn't stand the way the US channels butchered every movie to fit into nice hourly slots so I never bothered getting a TV)

    These offerings actually sound worse 10 years later. I think I'll stick to rentals / piracy / waiting until it is shown on TV. Until they offer more choice and single purchase options.

    Thanks,

  49. Joe Montana
    WTF?

    Why bother?

    I am extremely dissatisfied with all the streaming services currently on the market, for a number of reasons:

    I, like many people in the UK live in an area where the only available broadband provider is BT and their various resellers, no LLU and no cable here.

    Because of my distance from the exchange, i can manage about 3mbit (but the performance is not consistent) and I also have a plan which imposes a monthly download cap during the day, with unlimited downloads from midnight to 8am. A streaming only service is therefore useless, i don't want to watch movies from midnight - 8am, and the fluctuating connection speed makes streaming quite a poor experience anyway.

    Being forced to use specific devices irks me, I have a linux based set top box which is more than capable of playing HD video, and yet these streaming services require their own proprietary clients which aren't available for these devices. Similarly, i am artificially prevented from using my linux based laptop to access the services.

    I also detest the fact that only limited content is made available to users in the UK... This is basically a form of racial discrimination and should be illegal. There is absolutely no valid reason to provide an inferior service to people based on where they live. The world has moved on, people now regularly communicate worldwide and by the time a movie is finally released in the uk, people will have encountered so many spoilers online as to make viewing it pointless.

    So instead of settling for these inferior services that discriminate against me based on what software i use, what devices i use and where i live... I simply acquire movies via torrents and usenet.

    I can download at night (outside of capped hours), and store on disk to watch whenever i feel like it.

    I can watch the downloaded movies on any device i choose.

    I can convert the downloaded movies to view on other devices as necessary (eg you wouldn't want to store 1080p video on a phone that only has a small screen)...

    I can download at whatever quality level suits me (even if doing so takes hours), rather than what my connection is capable of streaming in realtime.

    I can watch movies or tv shows at the same time as my friends in other countries, and then join in the conversations about them afterwards.

    I would quite happily pay for a service that provided me the same level of convenience and service, but it appears that if i pay i just end up with a vastly inferior service.

    I have already stopped downloading mp3 files from torrents since being able to purchase standard mp3 files that are playable on any device.

    1. Adam T
      Alert

      "I would quite happily pay for a service that provided me the same level of convenience and service, but it appears that if i pay i just end up with a vastly inferior service."

      So you'd pay for a better streaming service, but you won't pay for a better internet package with unlimited data?

      I'm BT too, and have the unlimited ADSL account - the speed is indeed a bit pants, but it's fine for Lovefilm, and I have no problem streaming iPlayer HD content (which comes down as excellent quality).

      I'm not saying it's good value - they're thieving bastards, but karma's gonna get them one day.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netflix does not work

    Can't get Netflix to work. Every time I click browse, I get an empty page, except for a box to register. Surely this is not a requirement. I tried to email them, but I couldn't get the email form to work.

    No Browsing, no service. Hello Lovefilm.

  51. Tapeador

    Yes, but...

    ...have you *seen* Whoopi Goldberg’s Fatal Beauty?

  52. Jacqui

    Lovefilm spam

    No netflix spam in any of my traps - but plenty of lovefilm UBE sent through a third parties. They have taken no action or responded to complaints.

    Lovefilm is blacklisted here (going as far as mastering thier domain in DNS to remove them from the "net") because of this torrent of crap.

  53. Cyfaill
    Linux

    open hostility towards Linux = no intrest

    We have a first rate use of Blu-ray anyway so it is academic but I would say that the open hostility towards Linux, especially by LoveFilm, precludes our interest in their existence.

    We are not hostile but it is very important to body-slam the attitude.

    We have netflix but our use is by mail which has always been fine but if Netflix seemed as hostile to Linux, we would dump them pronto on principle alone. Severe? Perhaps... we don't actually need anything like these services but the point *needs* to be made.

    4% of the market is not trivial... its money that could be theirs. Anyway that's my little rant... No Linux... no interest in what you offering.

    1. Not That Andrew
      Windows

      I wouldn't say they are "openly hostile", rather deeply indifferent to a segment that makes up only 1% to 2% of their potential market. I think you are being a bit optimistic with 5 %, remember they are not aiming at techies, but the general public.

      I still think Silverlight is as bad a platform as Flash, though, and I certainly won't install it just for Netflix and Lovefilm.

  54. dave 93

    Netflix works fine outside the UK too

    If you have a simple UK proxy server. Even lets you use it on many computers simultaneously.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Easy choice - none of them

    1. I don't have the luxury of high broadband speeds

    2. Why suffer the poor streaming quality?

    3. I can get anything I need to watch any time at higher quality, without having to stream

    4. There's just too much media to consume already and I'm usually too busy doing more cerebral stuff

    I guess it must be an age thing, as the older I get, the less of a damn I give about TV and Movies in general. There's *way* more interesting things to be doing and a lot of that is net based - why just sit and blindly consume when you can also participate?

  56. Robert E A Harvey

    Well, Lovefilm doesn't list "Dambusters" but does have "Dangerous Moonlight" and both of Ms Agutter's versions of "The railway children". And "Casablanca" and "Nosfesterau" and All of Alan Plater's Beiderbecke series.

    Netflix refuses to discuss what it has unless I join up. So buggerem.

    Decision made, I feel.

    1. Putonghua73
      WTF?

      Catalogue browsing

      As another poster said, traditional media does not get the 'net as a distribution mechanism since to them all 'net users are hoisting the Jolly Roger. I used Napster back in the day until iTunes and then bought mp3s - singles and albums - when there was a easy, legal alternative.

      I don't watch films via foreign sites and/or via torrents (except Riko Tachibana productions - yes, I have previously dipped my hand in my wallet to pony up for subscription), but I do watch TV shows (recently the under-the-radar Odyssey 5, Firefly, Jericho, Outer Limits and Twilight Zone) via the 'net. I never switch the TV on.

      Netflix looks like a legal alternative (unless I pony up for a VPN and watch Hulu - I can't believe this issue plagues e-books. FFS! When will these industries wake up!) - except for the brainless decision to only browse once you've signed up!? Why the **** do we have to rely on a 3rd party site? http://www.thenowhereman.com/netflix/

      If Netflix has the Outer Limits (old and new) and Twilight Zone, and will get Game of Thrones Season 2 at some stage, I'll sign up mid-Feb so I can watch on my tablet device (iPad2 / Asus Transformer Prime).

  57. Tom Melly
    Thumb Up

    Netflix - two probems

    At the price, the lack of recent releases doesn't bother me so much, and seems pretty much inevitable, and I assume that their catalogue is going to expand.

    My two gripes so far are occasional problems with the sound/picture being slightly out of sync and the fact that you can't browse the entire catalogue. The syncing thing seems to sometimes go away if you stop and restart the film, but I don't even understand how modern hardware and codecs even allow that to happen...

    I would add some of the categories it offers me to the complaint, but they're more just bizarre rather than a problem ("Dark thrillers with a strong female lead", or something like that - that's a thing?).

    Price-wise, netflix seems to be a clear winner - either that or I misunderstood what lovefilm was offering.

    Anyway, lovefilm's not an option. We have a good dvd deal with them which their desperate to make us switch from. Every new service they offer requires us to switch away from it. TBH I haven't even used the deal we have (pay-per-disc rather than monthly), but I don't want to cancel it, I want to pass it on to my children when I die....

  58. MJI Silver badge

    Options of both - choose neither

    Got a PS3, both are listed in the XMB, however what else is in the PS3 - a BluRay drive, you can pick up BDs for around the £5 mark, so that is what I do.

    Better picture & sound and I get to keep it.

  59. Patrick 14

    Netflix plus 1

    I had love film via my Sony TV and it was rubbish, the picture was poor and I'm on 20-40mpbs fibre to cab.

    I'm now on netflix free trial so far its ok, Its very good in HD and I do like the fact the picture gets better as you start to watch it on pc.

    Only fed up as Sony do netflix in USA on my TV yet not over here?

    And for the Muppets that says the offer is only open to facebook need to goto Specsavers. try the top right corner for the normal sign up page that I used.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tried LoveFlim and Netflix, Netflix is better, but only just....

    Unless you use a simple trick and then use then you have access to the US content, which is miules better and you get so much more. .

    UK account, UK address, UK card. But US content., for the xbox and PS3 all you need to do is change your DNS servers. do a quick Google search for instructions and you can also be watching the latest Futurama or Toy Story 3.

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