Thursday, 9 February 2012

Netflix vs LOVEFiLM



For the past few weeks I've been trialling Netflix. Comparing and contrasting the newest UK entrant, into the nascent streaming market, against the incumbent LOVEFiLM Instant! Is it time to sell or donate to charity that DVD and Blu-ray disc collection? Perhaps.

As I've written previously here, the technological winner is Netflix by more than a country mile! HD streaming and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound (where available) trumps LOVEFiLM Instant's sub DVD audiovisual streaming. For example Disney's Tron looked vibrant on Netflix, but muted on LOVEFiLM Instant.

Most HD film and television series are shown in 720p or 1080p (contingent on your broadband connection). Unlike BBC iPlayer or LOVEFiLM Instant, Netflix streaming hasn't stuttered or paused, during playback, due to the company's variable bit rate technology. I have noticed some lip sync issues. However, any problems can be reported directly under account settings on the website (what about in-app?). I've yet to garner a response.

While I applaud Netflix's consistent user experience across multiple platforms (no news on Bravia Internet Video), the omission of actor, director and genre search (available on the website) is curious and LOVEFiLM beats Netflix in this regard. Caching on mobile devices would be a welcome addition for commuters as 3G coverage isn't presently robust.

Netflix's social media policy should be lauded, but I'd welcome opt-in email news, too. Suffice to say that I will be continuing my subscription post the 1 month free trial. Incidentally, Freesat+ hasn't been switched on at all!

With Sky announcing plans for a streaming-only service, too, the battle has only just begun. For the moment I don't mind paying £10 per month for both Netflix and LOVEFiLM, which covers most of the bases.

Update
LOVEFiLM Instant now streams in HD and Netflix includes actor/director search in-app.