As long as you understand that you won't find most of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, Netflix offers lots to watch for even discerning movie and TV buffs.
Old gold, new dross. Aside from a handful of titles that are also being shown on the Epix cable TV channel, newer films available on Netflix tend to be those you've never heard of. That includes some true gems from independent distributors, as well as some of the worst footage ever captured on celluloid or shot directly to video. The picture is much better for older titles, and you can find some of the top movies of all time in all genres. The vast library of streaming movies is widely regarded as the biggest of all movie streaming services, although Netflix no longer publicizes its catalog or the number of movies available.
Classic shows, new originals. While Netflix won't have the latest episodes of current TV programs -- look to Hulu Plus (Est. $7.99 per month) or a video-on-demand service such as Vudu (Est. 99 cents and up per video) or iTunes (Est. 99 cents and up per video) for that -- you'll find tons of older TV programs, including the complete runs of many broadcast and cable TV series. Some still-running series are available as well, although only past seasons. The TV streaming lineup also includes lots of original programming such as "Orange Is the New Black" and the Emmy-winning "House of Cards." Next year (2015) will see the debut of four exclusive and original streaming TV live-action series based on Marvel comics characters, culminating in a multi-episode mini-series event.
It's in there. If you own a piece of electronics gear that can stream movies and TV shows from the Internet, the odds approach 100 percent that it's capable of streaming content from Netflix. That includes smart TVs, Blu-ray players, video game consoles, dedicated set-top boxes and more. Ease of use is excellent, although the experience of using Netflix varies by platform. Some Netflix features like the ability to watch 3D movies is limited to certain devices.
Tom's Guide covers streaming services like Netflix in a number of roundups, comparisons and stand-alone reviews. Here, Netflix earns a spot in a list of top-10 streaming video services. Elsewhere, Netflix is compared directly to Amazon Prime Instant and declared the clear winner.
Review: Top 10 Online Streaming Video Services, Marshall Honorof, Jan. 1, 2014
Netflix is reviewed on the Windows Phone platform here, but there are lots of references to how the service works on other devices, including living room TVs. Regardless of the platform, "you'll see that familiar bright red screen and logo, and a clear way to navigate around your account and start watching a video stream," Michael Muchmore says. It earns the Editors' Choice among streaming services.
Review: Netflix (for Windows Phone), Michael Muchmore, July 18, 2013
Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant and Redbox Instant by Verizon -- although the latter was still not publicly available at the time of the review -- are compared in this article. Netflix is named Lauren Goode's "go-to streaming service for newer TV shows, some new movies and a bunch of old movies."
Review: Netflix, Redbox and More: What You Need to Know, Lauren Goode, Jan. 21, 2013
Here, Netflix is compared to Hulu Plus. Content, quality, platform support and pricing are addressed. Although Hulu Plus is very good, Russell Holly says to pick Netflix if you need to choose only one service.
Review: Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who Best Fits Your Video Streaming Needs?, Russell Holly, Sept. 26, 2013
Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant are compared. Areas of strength for each service are highlighted, but no overall best subscription movie streaming service is named.
Review: Netflix Instant vs. Hulu Plus vs. Amazon Instant Video, Mike Flacy, Mar. 9, 2013
Netflix is the top-rated service at TopTenReviews.com. Content, features, user experience and support are all rated; however, the focus is on TV programming rather than movies. Discussion indicates that hands-on testing of the service was done.
Review: Netflix, Kent Dunn, Not dated