Praise and Warning on NETFLIX

OK, the warning first: The thing is terribly addictive.

I lost one whole weekend to “Continuum”. I’d tried to watch the series a couple of times elsewhere. It was confusing and not very effective, since I’d tried to pick up in the middle of a complex plot with self references. If you didn’t see the first couple of episodes, you don’t have the needed context. Being able to start it from ‘day one’ changed it to an interesting plot line that developed (reasonably) clearly.

Then I discovered what “binge viewing” was all about…

Since each episode is just a bit over 40 minutes (no commercials!), you tend to watch “a couple” or “a few”, and that gives the story a LOT more “flow”… and that makes it a LOT more interesting… So 2 days and 27 hours of ‘viewing’ later, I’ve seen all of Continuum that is on NetFlix. Loved it. (Now the hard part… for any series, do you ‘pick it up’ on broadcast for the next year, or wait a year for it to reach NetFlix? Decisions decisions…)

The Good Stuff

There is a very large selection of series (that, as noted above, you can start from the beginning) including some very old favorites (even some old B&W stuff from decades past) and some newer (but not on broadcast anymore) like Eureka! that I’ve missed for a while.

The movie library is more than large enough to keep me busy for a few years (I’ve generally limited myself to one movie a week, but sometimes 2…) with a very large range of topics.

I was able to use it to show my Brazilian students “High School Musical” (that, it seems, they all know and love) in class for English practice with darned near no effort. (Just put the name in the search bar and there it was…)

Most of the time I’m on a shared network, and it has few performance problems; so the compression and buffering are likely pretty good.

The interface is mostly decent (tends to repeat the same movies / series a few times under “new” and “trending” and “comedy” and… headings, so a lot of ‘real estate’ used for any given number of shows, but you find what you want on the first category search, typically.

It doesn’t cost much at all. (First month free, then something like $8 to $10 / month depending on plan). Frankly, just cutting commercials out of one series for one show covers the monthly cost IMHO.

At the end of a month or two of using it, I’m finding it nearly impossible to ‘go back’ to broadcast. The commercials just make we want to turn it off and switch back to NetFlix. News is about all I’m doing on broadcast / satellite now. I’m seriously considering canning my $100 / month DirecTV and just getting news from local free broadcast. I certainly see no reason to get a ‘premium channel’ from DirecTV or DISH. (other than news / sports / things happening Right Now.. but some web sources look good for that too…)

One other minor “negative”… since it works so well, and the spouse likes it rather a lot too, I find that evenings it tends to monopolize the ChromeBox. Seriously cutting into my ‘research’ and ‘posting’ time. I’m likely to end up getting a second box just to drive the video so it can be ‘in use’ for hours on end and NOT impact my “computer time”… Yes, it’s that good. I’m willing to toss $180 at a dedicated video driving platform.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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13 Responses to Praise and Warning on NETFLIX

  1. dellwilson says:

    Yup. I binge-watched the Battlestar Gallactica series through Netflix a couple years ago. I have to limit myself since I really zone out when I binge.

  2. Petrossa says:

    minix neo is really excellent for viewing netflix…

  3. omanuel says:

    Thanks for the information. I can’t stand commercial TV, so I may try it.

    By the way, Senator Cruz seems to be seriously trying to salvage NASA:

    http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=2077

  4. Mike says:

    I’m primarily using Netflix on my smartphone at the gym, which has free wifi. Most movies fit in the time I spend on aerobic exercise machines.

  5. H.R. says:

    Don’t start watching the Marco Polo series ;o)

    You have been warned :o))

  6. Clay Marley says:

    About 6 months ago I discovered Amazon Prime video, and Stargate SG-1. Yes, I know I’m about 15 years behind the times, but I think its the best sci fi series since Star Trek TOS. Streaming video is really the best format for a series like this that needs to be seen in sequence. Like Continuum, it is filmed in and around Vancouver so most alien planets look a lot like B.C. But this becomes an in-joke occasionally. I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle all 10 seasons, but so far they have kept it fresh with few klunker episodes. I am in season 5.

    I found for streaming HD movies I had to upgrade to a DOCSYS 3.0 modem. The DVD player is connected to wi-fi.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Clay Marley:

    I’ve seen ads for an Amazon gizmo and for some other Chrome Dongle aimed at video. Something like $39 or $49 or whatever each. Have not yet investigated how those differ from Netflix and a computer. (Would not mind at all finding out that a $39 Chrome Dongle gets the TV going with YouTube and NetFlix and gets me my ChromeBox back between 5 PM and 10 PM… )

    As I’m using “resort wifi” I have no modem / router issues (at least, none under my control). I’ve only had occasional buffer / cache misses with the resultant “spinning red circle of denial” while it resynced. ( almost exclusively at ‘prime time’ between about 6 pm and 8 pm). Yet even those are far far shorter than the normal ‘commercial breaks’, and are sometimes a welcome pause to refill the glass…

    Oh, and next time I see SG-1 I’ll have to look for B.C. / Vancouver indications ;-)

    @H.R.:

    Marco Polo you say?…. (Yikes! ;-)

    @Mike:

    I have a dumb phone (deliberately), but might try it on the tablet on local wifi…

    @Petrossa:

    What is a minix neo and why do I want one?

    @DellWilson:

    I’ve been limiting to about 3 to 4 episodes in a bunch as a nice size. ( a bit over 2 hours so about like a movie). Sometimes I’ve let it go to 5 or 6… Doing a whole year at one go is satisfying, but a bit of effort. (Doing 3 or 4? years of Continuum in one go was a bit, er, over the top… but like reading a very long novel in one sitting through the night… more gratifying in a “I’m useless today” kind of way ;-)

    My kids have gone “all NetFlix all the time” and have NO regular TV service at all. This makes me wonder if the era of the ‘zero attention span’ generation raised on 30 second commercial spots with all of 12 minutes as the max size video chunk, if they will be replaced by folks more “like me” where the Novel (or Russian Novel ;-) sized attention span is used… One can hope…

  8. philjourdan says:

    I agree totally with your comments, so I follow the philosophy of WOPPER (War Games). The only way to win, is to not play the game.

    And that is why I have avoided it. My wife picks up series on commercial TV every once in a while, but I soon lose track, so do not even try to keep up (I do not have the time to watch it). With a service like Netflix, I would be addicted as well. So I just avoid it.

    Power to those who can partake in moderation! ;-)

  9. Pingback: Life With ChromeBox | Musings from the Chiefio

  10. Chuck J says:

    I just purchased a Roku stick for $50.00 which has more streaming channels than the chrome donagle. It just plugs into an HDMI outlet on the tv. Works great for Netflix, Huluplus, Amazon instant video etc. We no longer have cable because of the options.

  11. R. de Haan says:

    Right, you love teaching.

    Not only teach them the language, teach them to have a mind of their own and check the facts before they join the herd.

  12. Paul Hanlon says:

    I’ve just installed a free to air satellite system that will feed up to eight rooms (once you have the set-top boxes), and except for Discovery, it has everything I could possibly want. I’ve been putting off a Netflix subscription because I just know I’ll get hooked on it.

    The major issue here in Ireland is broadband. The cheapest available is €35 per month (about $40), and that’s for 6mb down / 1Mb up with a download limit of 180GB. Shocking.

    @R. de Haan
    I’m sure I’ve seen you posting here about an initiative to get broadband to remote places, how does that work?

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Paul Hanlon:

    One way to do it is to ‘roll your own’. Early on, before widespread availability of internet access and high speed to homes, a friend lived up on a hill (away from town where wires were strung…) and very rural. The Telco would not deliver internet (barely had wired phone / modem) as the cost was too high. So….

    He found that a workmate lived a couple of miles down slope, but line of sight, and had high speed (then, ISDN, IIRC). So cut a deal. Sharing cost and bandwidth. Picked up some wi-fi routers with removable antennas. Put the antennas in a “shotgun antenna” type mount (metal tube, antenna near the rear) and pointed them at each other. That extended the range “considerably”… And they had high speed ‘up the hill’.

    Now, a bit later, some folks in a community above Sacramento also could not get high speed. Knew of this. So “pooled their money” and bought a T1 leased line to one home. From that home, they did wireless distribution around the neighborhood via shotgun antennas / wi-fi routers. By the time the Telco got around to offering them high speed service to the homes (several years after folks in Sacramento…) they were happy to say “No thanks, we did it ourselves…” There were threats about ‘un-licensed providers’ but it never went anywhere as the gear was all FCC compliant for unlicensed use…

    Don’t know the status of any of those now that cheap high speed is everywhere semi-urban.

    Oh, and you can run internet data via Ham Radio packet radio links, but need to get the license first…

    Nice examples and write up here:

    http://windsurf.mediaforte.com/wifi/wifi_antenna.html

    Note that the dish was tested at 5.6 miles…

    Now you will tend to get high hop counts and the related delays if you chain too many of these together ( i.e. going 100 miles 5 miles at a time will have sloth issues…) but if you have a remote site that is in the 5 to 10 mile range with line of sight, I’d go for it… just need some old DISH TV or DirectTV dishes, some tin cans, and a bit of time.

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