A few years ago my wife complained about our cable bill.
“This is a ridiculous amount to pay every month” she said.
We had a premium cable channel on our plan but we weren’t even watching most of the movies or shows it provided. And the movies it did show played over and over without much variety.
I thought about it and it was ridiculous.
So what to do?
We wanted to be able to watch recent movies without having to pay per movie or leave the house to pick something up.
We heard about Netflix from a number of our friends and they all swore it was the best thing since sliced bread (was life so hard before slice bread?). We were intrigued. Here’s our Netflix review…
What is Netflix?
Netflix is an online company that allows you to rent movies and TV shows for a flat monthly fee.
There are basically two ways to get your content – via DVD or to stream it online.
If you go the DVD route, you create a queue of DVD’s you’d like to receive. As the selection comes up Netflix mails out the DVD to you to watch. You can hold the DVD for as long as you want without late fees. (If you’re like me it can take a week to watch a good movie, what with work and kids.)
When you’re done with the DVD you put it back into the envelope you got it in which you can seal and mail back to Netflix at no charge. Just drop it in a mailbox. Then your next selection gets sent out (this depends on how many DVD’s you have on you plan).
With streaming content, you have some options on how you want to watch.
Netflix will stream though: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, many internet connected Blu-Ray players, many internet connected HD TVs, though smart phones and tablets, TV devices like Roku or AppleTV, as well as being able to watch on your computer.
Yeah, there’s a few ways to watch!
We have out Netflix set up via wifi through our Wii (truth is, we use our Wii mostly for Netflix these days!). I’ve also watched content through my computer as well. That came in real handy for an English project I had in a class that compared written plays with movies based on them.
The Difference Between Streaming and DVDs
It should be noted that the content on the DVD plan is not the same as the content you get streaming.
With DVDs you have access to a lot more recent content like the latest movies that are out.
With streaming, there is a LOT of content, but not as many recent movies like you would have with the DVD option.
On the other hand, with streaming, you get your shows and movies NOW. And there is a lot you can watch. You can find entire runs of some TV shows.
There’s also no limit to what you can watch. If you want to veg out all day and watch a TV series you can (not that I’d suggest that, just sayin’). With the DVD option you are limited to what DVDs you have out, then yo have to wait until the next one.
We’ve found the streaming option is great if you have kids. There are tons of children’s programming and movies on Netflix for kids of all ages (our youngest loves watching Caillou).
When we originally signed up we had the two DVD plan. The streaming plan was still new and we didn’t have a player to stream it to anyway (except the computer). But since we got a Wii we found that we were watching far more via streaming than on DVD. That and the fact that Netflix raised the price for the streaming plan led us to drop the DVD plan and keep streaming.
The unlimited, one DVD plan is also $7.99. With this plan, you have unlimited access to their DVD selection. With these you can watch as many movies as you want a month (limited only by how fast you watch them and return them).
It seems like Netflix is moving toward the streaming model rather than the DVD model. Though you have access to more recent movies with the DVD plan, I think this will change and you will see more on the streaming plan. This is speculation on my part, but it makes sense. DVDs cost to buy and mail out and streaming is probably far cheaper. In order to compete with other providers, like cable, Netflix will have to get more content on its streaming plan.
What we like about Netflix:
- We pick what we want to see. No more hoping there’s something we want to watch on cable or making sure we catch it in time. With Netflix we pick what movies and TV shows we want.
- TV Shows. Ever hear about a great TV show from friends but it’s already halfway through the season? Or for whatever reason you just can’t watch the show that day? We wait until the show comes out on Netflix and then watch the show straight through the season. We don’t have to watch commercials and we can keep up with the storyline better since we’re watching the episodes consecutively rather than waiting sometimes a couple of weeks on TV for the next episode to come out.
- Price. The streaming, and DVD plan, are far less than what you usually have to pay for a premium cable channel and it’s far cheaper than having to pay per movie.
- Convenience. We turn on our Wii, click Netflix, and pick what we want to watch. We keep track of what we want to see on our queue. If we don’t know the name of a movie we can look up keywords and find what it is we were looking for. Truth is we’re seeing movies and shows we wouldn’t have seen without Netflix!
- It Streams to Our TV (or convenience part II). We got a Wii as a gift. I thought the games would be fun but so far the best thing about the Wii is that we can stream Netflix movies through it direct to our TV! There are so many kid’s movies to watch. We’re loving the instant streaming option. This also includes movies and content from the Starz channel.
We have been very happy with Netflix over the years!
Honestly, there have been so many movies and shows I either forgot about or didn’t know existed that I found on Netflix (for example, I love watching the old Spider Man cartoons with my son – you know, the one with the classic theme song).
If you aren’t sure what plan to try or if you don’t know if you will like it that’s OK. Netflix is offering a 1-month free trial. If you like it then you get charged after your month is up (you need to connect a credit card). If you don’t like it then you can cancel at any time.
If you are looking for an alternative to cable TV or you’re simply looking for a place to watch movies and TV shows, then give the Netflix free trial a shot and see how you like it.
Just last Tuesday I dropped all my premiums with cable $42.95 (doesn’t include tax) and switched to $8.99 ($9.89 with tax) with Netflix one DVD at a time (perfect for me who takes my time to watch) and streaming via PC which is connected to the TV and using our Xbox. I’m mad it took me so long to do it. The streaming had something for everyone. I don’t forsee myself going back.
I’ve got to check out more of the streaming movies! We’ve really only been using the DVD’s so far. Probably because we have a laptop and the screen is too small to really watch. It’s great to hear you’re saving so much!
Turn your laptop around…looking for a circle opening with tons of little holes. Found it? Boom that is an S-Video wire, hook that bad boy into your TV (most TVs even older ones) have it. There ya go! Now your laptop is streaming into your TV, and don’t need to squint.
Want to hear? A little trickier. Need to find a wire that looks like an ear phone at one end and on the other has a red and white wire – plut that into your audio. Boom! we have sound.
The netflix tv shows streaming are AMAZING, but the movies are sub par. Also you can now watch Hulu, abc, Nbc, and if you are a little shadier there are streaming sites that have current pirated tv. I won’t tell.
Despite figuring this out I can’t cut the cord from cable.
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I’m away from my home computer but I don’t think my Macbook has an S-Video out. Might have something comparable though that I could get an adapter for? I’ll have to look into it.
I’m fortunate enough to have a good library system that exchanges among a few dozen locations and lets you reserve/request DVDs (and books of course) online.
We also have a Redbox which has new releases the day they come out.
Between the two, I barely spend a few dollars a month to see movies at home.
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I’ve heard about Redbox but haven’t looked into it yet. I see them at the local supermarket. For us it would still mean we had to travel out to get a movie. That’s where the convenience of Netflix comes in.
We’ve also taken stuff out of the library; mostly for the kids though. The DVD’s there usually have to be returned in 7 days so we still have to watch out for late fees. But it is a free source of movies and it’s great when you can reserve online (I’ve done that with books).
If you travel out for your job and pass the supermarket, Redbox, is a steal versus Netflix. Redbox charges $1, plus tax, a night and gives you to 9PM the next day to return the movie before you are charged a second night. My wife and I have recently cancelled Netflix because we were not watching enough movies to justify the cost. We now pick up a movie, from Redbox, on Sunday night and I return it on the way to work on monday morning, it literally takes less than a minute to return it. I recommend dropping the movie off in the morning if possible, helps reduce the urge to pick up misc. items that one may need for the house.
Netflix streaming is fantastic, I wish they had a stream only plan and would provide ALL movies, even if delayed a period of time, and charge a flat monthly fee. But until that convenience is available, Redbox it is.
You would think living in NYC it would be easy to pass a Redbox location but alas it isn’t. The local supermarket is a bit out of the way and we don’t pass it too often. I can see how it’s great if it’s convenient for you though.
I have to agree netflix is great. I especially like that I can keep a movie for as long as I want. Sometimes I just can’t seem to carve out the time to watch the movie, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to return it any time soon in order to avoid late fees (like a typical movie rental place, or even redbox). The streaming is also great. Although sometimes the picture doesn’t look as nice when I hook it up to the TV, but hey! still a lot less expensive than cable!
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There are times when we go through DVD’s like water and can’t wait for the next one. Other times it takes us a week to get through one movie. Not having late fees is a real selling point for me.
We use both netflix and redbox. Redbox we use if we want to rent a movie on the spur of the moment, and we want to get a new release. It’s great for that type of thing and only costs $1.06 every time you rent.
Netflix is great for reserving movies you want to see in advance, and is even greater now that they have streaming movie and tv show options as well. We are in the middle of watching the entire series of “LOST” via the online streaming option that netflix has. We love it!
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To me, a show like LOST is so much better when you can watch the whole season at once. No commercials and you can follow the story line so much better. I hate when there is a 2-3 break between episodes and I forget what happened on the last one.
As for reserving, if there’s a movie out in theaters we want to see we put it on our Netflix queue. This way it’s already on there when it gets released (with 3 kids we don’t get out to the movies much).
I’m totally with you on cutting costs by getting rid of cable. To the horror of my friends and family I haven’t had cable in over 2 years. It’s not because I can’t afford it, but it simply adds no value to my life.
Instead it actually served as a distraction and once getting rid of it my productivity increased a little. I’m just as happy vegging out to a movie or specific streaming show I want to watch, than flipping through hundreds of channels I can’t watch all at once.
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We cut our premium channel but we haven’t cut cable out totally yet. We’re getting close though.
I’ve done Netflix before and it’s good for watching seasons at a time and hard-to-find movies. I really like Redbox because it’s cheap, an instant. Well — you do have to go get it, but it’s not bad. And, you can get free codes online! Check it out already!
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Wow, there’s a big push for Redbox huh? If I shopped at the supermarkets that had them more often I’d really consider it but I’m not going by there enough.
The redboxes in our area are everywhere. We have 5 of them within 2 miles. two at gas stations, one at the grocery store, one at walmart and one at mcdonald’s. You can’t avoid them if you tried!
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Go figure! I’ve seen maybe two total and both at supermarkets.
the best part about netflix is the watch now option that we connect the TV and the computer together and watch great, clear picture online on the tv instantly. now thats worth $10 a month
If you can use the computer-tv connection then it does sound awesome. We’re not there yet but maybe if we need to replace out tv…
I love Netflix and have been a long time member. I used to live closer to a distribution warehouse and would get DVDs delivered overnight. Now, it takes 2-3 days at my current location. I’m wondering if Netflix will drop their prices ocne the post office starts delivering only 5 days a week. I should definitely try the streaming option to get the most out of my subscription.
Overnight DVD’s would be awesome! That’s an interesting point you make about post office closings. I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see.
My family was just able to eliminate our premium cable channel package and save a lot of money. We don’t use NetFlix, but do rely on iTunes, specifically for TV shows. It ends up being much cheaper than that large, monthly bill. It’s quick, simple and sensible–not to mention empowering.
Thanks for the post.
These days a premium cable channel is all about what you can watch right now. If you have a little patience and can wait for a movie to be released on DVD or wait for one of their shows to come out then you totally don’t need a premium channel.
I love Netflix. My only complaint is that DVDs are sometimes scratched beyond playability, but that doesn’t seem to be TOO frequent a problem.
We dumped our cable company a few months ago, and the land-line too. This cut saves us $100 per month, plus the fees and taxes. We purchased the Roku XS 2 and stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, and others. After some fine-tuning it is working out very well. Never going back to paying for TV.
You got me thinking, a lot of newer TVs have internet access and can stream Netflix. We’re looking for a new TV for our back room and that would be a great option to have.
Too funny. I just canceled my Netflix account for a couple of reasons. One, I wasn’t a big fan of their payment plans from earlier this year, two, I got inherited my parent’s DVD collection and three, I can get most TV shows for free on Hulu.
By all means you should figure out what content you want to watch and find the best, and cheapest, place to watch them.
I’ve done the free Netflix trial and I was really expecting more new TV shows and movies. It seems like you have to subscribe to both the streaming and DVD options to get access to their array of movies & TV shows. So in the end you’re paying more than the advertised cheap price. Just realized this is the first positive post I’ve seen in a while since the price hike was announced. Glad it works for you!
We dropped our nearly $100/mo cable TV subscription almost 18 mos ago and have never looked back with regret. The money savings has been nice, and now that it’s not so easy to passively channel surf, what we do watch is intentional. Over the past few years my husband and I had been mostly watching dvd rentals and streaming content via Netflix anyway, plus we wanted less of a broadcast TV distraction available to our school-aged son (who needed to concentrate a bit more on his schoolwork). We stream via an internet ready dvd player, though we could also stream via our Wii if we wanted.
One of the things we especially like is not being bombarded with advertisements and “junk news”, as I don’t care about what celebrities are doing, nor do I think the the latest trial fury cooked up by Nancy Grace deserves my attention. The news I need to know about seems to find me just fine without broadcast and cable TV service (online news access is readily available and I keep up with various current local, national, and international bloggers); all the rest I remain blissfully unaware of.
The only thing I can say I miss is watching the current Masterpiece shows on PBS on our TV. We work around that fairly well by watching them a day or two after airing on our iMac computer with the fairly large wide screen monitor. What we are really missing is no the TV screen, but the sofa.
I like what you say about “intentional.”
I’ve found in the past that I’ll be bored and surf for something to watch. I’ll go through about every channel until I can find something to occupy my time.
With Netflix, you can still surf around, but you’re making more of an intention to watch something. I’ll usually go in with an idea of what I want. AND you don’t get the commercials.
I thought Netflix was really great because I really love watching the news every night and I thought it was cool that I could watch channel 3 news every night before and went to bed even though I couldn’t find my local community news channel on there.
I have been thinking about getting NetFlix, but I have heard there isn’t as much to choose from up here in Canada as there is in the US. While the low monthly price is attractive, I’ll wait until there is better selection.
Well, I can’t speak to what Netflix offers up north, in another country.
If it doesn’t offer what you want then it isn’t worth it to you, plain and simple.
But I think for many, Netflix has a LOT to offer.
I recently signed up and started streaming movies and TV shows on Netflix on my iPad. It works really well, but for one “problem” – if I don’t watch a video all the way through and click DONE before the absolute end including ALL of the credits (either don’t like it and don’t want to continue or just don’t want to bother with the credits) it doesn’t go away. So I reload the video and skip the beginning and middle and let it play all the way to the end and click DONE and it’s STILL THERE. Is this a Netflix problem or an iPad problem? Will these “unfinished” videos ever go away? It’s annoying! (I get annoyed easily 🙂
I hadn’t heard about that problem. Right now we don’t have an iPad do I couldn’t help there.
If anyone else has seen this I’d love it if you could comment!
Netflix is so much fun. Of course for unlucky people like my selves who lives a country where Netflix is not supported, we need to shell out another 4 bucks to get a DNS service as well. But it is totally worth it 🙂