Netflix has sent its services live in the UK this morning bringing with it the largest online video streaming library currently available. Priced in at £5.99 per month, it means unlimited access to a vast selection of content ranging from everything from Top Gear to Twin Peaks.
The service has only been available for a few hours and as such we have only so far had a chance to play with it on a few different devices. In theory, should you own all the tech, you can watch Netflix on Blu-ray players, TVs, phones, tablets, games consoles and computers. At the moment we have Netflix running on an Xbox 360, iPhone and iPad and our Macbook Air, all of which have had no issues with setup from launch whatsoever.
As we've not used the US service, it's hard to tell how similar the two will be. That said, it's nice to see a lot of UK television on Netflix from day one on its British launch. Short of browsing through Netflix's entire library, we can't give you a full list of exactly what UK content is available. Standout titles that jumped out at us are things like The Inbetweeners and Peep Show as well as Doctor Who and BBC wildlife documentaries like Wild China.
The Netflix experience actually varies quite a bit across different devices. On the computer running through the Chrome browser Netflix is very simple and easy to use. Once you sign in you are asked to tell the service what sort of films you are interested in so it can create recommendations for you. This can be made better by rating films using Netflix's five star system. We found the more rating we did, the clearer the recommendations came. Streaming is virtually instant on a decent web connection and a lot of content runs in HD. We found very little artefacting and the ability to resume watching from where we left of instantaneously was very nice indeed.
On the iPad is where Netflix feels particularly swish. Like the desktop version, you can browse titles by covers and then tap whatever you want to watch, opening up a streaming video. The categories tab on the left behaves slightly like the Facebook and Twitter app, choosing individual genres just repopulating the home screen with different movies. It is very simple and clean to use and makes navigating through titles extremely quick. We would like to see more than just a simple 'more like' option below movies you tap on, but the desktop recommendations offering mostly fixes this. We also noticed you can stream video on different devices at once which is great for families who want just one account for a whole household.
The iPhone version rather predictably behaves like a squashed down iPad equivalent. The lack of screen real estate means that films are well, like watching video on the iPhone ... not the best experience. All this is made up for by the ability to stream content over 3G. It means access to movies and tv shows on the bus on a level that the iPhone hasn't seen before. We really like this about Netflix and the iPhone.
On the Xbox Netflix is like a lot of other streaming apps on the console. It is particularly fast, quicker than things like 4od and YouTube, which makes it a much more enticing experience than things like the Xbox's Zune app. We like the way the video starts running straight way and allows you to click through and find out more about the movie you are watching without it stopping play.
From our brief play Netflix looks to be like the streaming service the UK is waiting for. Lovefilm now has a major contender to worry about, particularly in the content department, which from the looks of it Netflix already has grabbed the title.
What do you think to Netflix? Will you be subscribing? Let us know in the comments below ...