Netflix, Roku and Cut Cable, Oh My!, Part 1
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Netflix. They’re the online video rental shop that will mail you DVDs from a queue you create. For many years, I wrote them off as not worth it. After all, I reasoned, we didn’t rent movies all that often so why pay $16.99 a month when we might rent only one movie that month. Tis better, I thought, to pay $5 to rent the new release in the local big name video chain. Boy was I wrong.
Regular readers will know that, a few months back, I won a Roku box from Buck Daddy. After getting it set up, I wondered just how I was going to use it. This led to my Cutting the Cable Cord post and eventually to a trial membership with Netflix. While I knew the features that were going to open up to me, I was unprepared for how they would change my television viewing habits.
You’ve Got DVD Mail
The basic Netflix DVD mailing system is quite simple. You browse their website looking for movies or TV shows that you would like to watch. Given Netflix’s incredible selection, it isn’t hard to quickly generate a long list (or Queue as it is called on the website). Aiding you is a "More Like" feature. When you add a title to your Queue, a screen pops up that not only confirms that the addition took place, but recommends additional titles to add. Clicking on one of those brings yet another "More Like" screen up. In this manner, you might attempt to add one title, but wind up adding a dozen.
It also means you will be exposed to titles that you might have otherwise never have even heard of. I wound up watching The IT Crowd, a British sitcom about office workers in an IT department, and Tripping The Rift, a TV-MA computer animated show about aliens and robots on a starship, thanks to this feature. In each case, I would have never had even known that they existed but now I’m a big fan of each.
Netflix has many distribution points, so chances are you’ll receive your video quickly. We’ve been averaging about 2 days between notification that the disc was mailed and its arrival in our mailbox. And Netflix helps ease mailing the DVDs back by making the mailer envelope double as a postage paid return envelope. Simply stick the DVD back into the mailing envelope, rip off a perforated side, peel off a protective backing on the envelope’s glue strip and seal the envelope. Then back in the mail it goes to Netflix.
Overall, we were very satisfied with this system. As I said, the movies arrived rapidly. And, since you don’t need to return them by a certain date, you can keep them until you’ve watched them all. As of this writing, I still have the first disc of Dinosaurs out until I get to watching the last episode or two. Meanwhile, we’re managing our queue to make sure each family member gets the chance to have something out. Looney Tunes for NHL and JSL (ok, and me), Weeds for B, and Mr. Bean for me.
All along the way, Netflix seems to be all about communication. We get notified when a movie is sent out and when it is received. We even get e-mailed questionairres asking about the quality of their service. In the one instance we had of a disc having troubles, Netflix made reporting and getting a replacement for the bad disc a cinch. They strike me as a company truly determined to not rest on their laurels. Sure, they may be on the top of the Online DVD Rental game now, but things can change quickly. Netflix seems determined to keep up with those changes.
Coming up next, Netflix ups the ante with online streaming…
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary 3 month preview of Netflix for review purposes. However, after my preview period, I intend to remain on as a paying Netflix member. As stated, I won the Roku box during an online giveaway. The reviews expressed above are my own and were not altered in any way by Netflix, Roku or anyone else.