Netflix.com 10 things to Love and 6 to Hate
Written: Jan 2, 2006
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I do love Netflix for so many reasons. Maybe thats what frustrates me, using something thats so close to perfection yet so far away. With so many reviews for Netflix, I guess theres no need for an in depth explanation of what it is. You rent movies online, there are never any late fees, and the more movies you want out at a time, the more you pay. I would guess that the 1-3 movies out at a time ranging from $9.99 to about 20 bucks are the most popular.
The user interface online is easy to use and navigate for the most part and the queue is the juice. You add movies to your list or queue and those movies will come to you in the order youve chosen. Its simple really, as Netflix receives your already watched movies, they pick the next on the list and mail it out. The DVDs come in the mail in what appears to be an alarmingly inadequate Tyvek sleeve tucked into a return envelope.
Exactly what crowd will garner the most from this review? Mainly the more hard-core movie fan and videophile. If you are a big fan of $129 27" TVs and $29 DVD players from Wal-Mart, some of this review will go right over your head. If you think HDTV means Heavy Duty TV, this really isn't up your alley.
Netflix Fast Facts: Looking at older reviews for Netflix a lot of the details have changed. So for 2006 here are some interesting tidbits on just how huge Netflix has become.
- Netflix boasts 37 separate shipping facilities or warehouses. They claim 92% of subscribers are only one shipping day away from them.
- They claim to carry 55,000 titles with a total of 42 million DVDs on hand
- Netflix distributes one million DVDs per day
10 things to Love about Netflix:
1.Its the depth of the catalog. Currently, Netflix carries 55,000 titles. Thats a lot of fun for so many reasons. Virtually every indie flick, every corny 80s TV show, everything that flopped at the box office, its all here.
2. Reviews! Yeah baby, all kinds of reviews, scrolling down reveals all the reviews from working slobs across the country. Off to the side, there are reviews from top critics in the US and I like having quick access to both.
3. Technical info like aspect ratio, soundtrack, running time and ratings are given. Although some of the technical data is inaccurate or simply not there at times.
4. Ratings by you: You can rate any movie on your screen whether youve rented it or not. And its fast, if you choose to rate, its done without ever leaving your current page, a big plus for those still on dial-up. Those ratings give the rest of the community a good sense of how good or bad a movie is. Its also used to recommend other movies for you based on what you rate and how you rate.
5. Netflix is a good communicator: Netflix is always telling you something or asking you something. They tell you via e-mail that they are currently receiving whatever title you just returned or asking you to rate recent picks. Online Netflix is always telling you what just shipped out, what you should have at home, and whats coming up to bat.
6. No late fees: Keep em as long as you want. It sounds better than what it really is. The truth is, you are paying every month, so technically, if you keep a movie long enough, its like buying it. But, its nice knowing that if you dont get around to it right away, its no big deal. This is also a huge Achilles heel for Netflix (more on that later).
7. The queue, change the list around, add movies, its fast and easy to use. And if you dont log on for days or weeks, the movies you want keep coming provided you made a nice long list.
8. The delivery thing: Having recently moved back the Napa Valley, online shopping has taken on a new meaning. Having lived in the stinky, smelly, dump known as the California bay area, everything was so very close to me. Now living back in my home town, things are different. Big chain stores have always been banned (to keep the smell of the big city at bay). So everything is 30-45 minutes away, and the local DVD rental huts are tiny with a limited selection.
9. Price: No matter how you look at it, you can watch more movies for a given dollar with Netflix than with a traditional rental store. As long as you aren't too slow about returning movies, it's almost certainly going to be cheaper per movie with Netflix.
10. Customer service: It's top notch, and not for the reasons you'd think. I don't like to call or e-mail if I don't have to. Having received the movie A Murder of Crows the disc had a huge crack from the center to the outer edge. Using my page at Netflix, I simply click on the movie title I had at home, clicked another option "report a problem" and another copy was sent before I mailed back the broken copy. I like that Netflix did their best to replace a defective disc as fast as humanly possible.
6 things I hate about Netflix
.. Thats what you will do for some popular titles. The following is only a theory as to why this is. Examples: Cinderella Man and Madagascar, Im hoping to receive these movies from Netflix by 2007. What happened here? Two things, Im guessing that Netflix purchased a set number of DVDs up front, and wont purchase more if they miscalculated demand. Second, titles like Madagascar sit at home for the rug rats, crumb catchers, and other evildoers to watch over and over for weeks while mom and dad change out other movies.
This is a huge problem and a dirty little secret of Netflix. Even if such titles are at the top of your queue it really means nothing. Cinderella Man has been sitting at the top of my list for nearly four weeks and I still havent seen the movie. Thats completely unacceptable. Netflix loves to boast of their superiority to a rental store, yet cant deliver a title in four weeks? Thats laughable.
2. Not friendly to videophiles: Its a tough thing being an audiophile or a videophile. The truth is, the masses dont care much about video quality, sound quality or much else for that matter. Just look at the explosion of MP3 music and the devices used to carry and hold the shrill sound of it. Consumers at large like convenience over everything else. Thats the reason DVD exploded and nothing else. DVD boasts instant track access, small size, light weight, and it wont degrade like videotape and no rewinding.
Want to make sure your DVD requests are anamorphic widescreen versions? Yeah Id like that too, and Id like to be a rich porn star; and ruler of the universe but it aint gonna happen anytime soon. For the most part, Netflix delivers true widescreen versions, this is great for HDTV users with standard square-ish tubes (4:3) and HDTV widescreen owners. I prefer widescreen on my HDTV even though it isnt wide, I like to use the vertical compression that such sets offer, I prefer the picture quality over a full screen version. Bottom line here, widescreen is the norm, full screen versions will arrive occasionally.
3. More blows to the videophiles: Until true hi-def discs hit the market in 2006 (Blu-ray and HD-DVD) the closest thing weve got is Superbit. Sure there are a limited number of titles, maybe around a couple hundred, but I rather enjoy these discs. Every Superbit title is mainstream and usually a blockbuster at that. But for whatever reason Netflix has decided not to carry a single Superbit disc unless thats the only way that it comes.
For example: The movie Closer, Punch Drunk Love or Panic room. Those are all Superbit and dont come in any other flavor. Would you like to rent Leon the Professional in Superbit Flavor? How about the Superbit versions of Spider-Man 1 or 2 with DTS soundtracks? Sorry, but Netflix will gladly send you superbabies (the first title returned when "superbit" is entered into search field). Um, I think I'll pass on superbabies.
4. Different versions of movies not available in most cases. Titles like The Professional come to mind, only the hacked American version is available. The 24 minute longer, clearly superior international version Leon the Professional isnt available. Want the unrated version of Alien Vs. Predator? Sorry, cant get that either. Ok, its only 8 minutes longer, probably still a cheesy movie, but thats neither here nor there, Id like to see it anyway.
Other annoyances include season 2 of BattleStar Galactica. Everybody and their mother started selling this title on Dec 20th 2005 including eBay sellers. Its 2006 and Netflix lists this title as "available Jan 17 2006." Why the discrepancy? Who knows. Sure I could attempt to contact Netflix but like every mega-company, they never seem to answer unless you work for some mega-rag. Anyway, these are just a few examples of major titles you wont get at Netflix. Yes the depth of titles blows away your standard rental store, but they still fall short on some mainstream must have/view titles.
5. Netflix might carry 55,000 titles, but why does it feel more like a few hundred? There's so much to watch, and Netflix doesn't seem to make it very easy to get a better feel of this immense depth. When I click on 'stand up comedy', I expect to see 100 titles right up front. Instead I see a short list, and some top favorites. The same goes for just about every category.
Don't make me feel like I'm digging ditches looking for a wider selection. And while I'm on the subject, Netflix's new release listing for new DVDs is almost a joke. Because they add only a title or two every week, the main page gives you a strange sense of déjà vu. I don't like having to go to Amazon or other websites to see what's coming on new movie Tuesday.
6. Other Netflix customers. Yes I hate them. I dream of their demise in every fashion a twisted soul could possibly imagine. I despise them for hoarding certain titles and for destroying everything they touch. Why can't people put a DVD in the player or safely in its container? I'd say half of the movies I receive look like they'd been used as drink coasters, frisbees, or used to skate across the carpet. I'm not talking about your fine scratches, I'm talking about large deep grooves and greasy oily finger prints. I'm talking about smears and smudges that I'd swear are peanut butter, jelly, and wax.
It's this reason that I wanted so badly for the hi-def discs on the horizon to come in a cart like mini-discs. People can't be trusted, they can't be responsible, you have to treat consumers like children. But sadly, both new formats want to use some scratch resistant stuff and won't use carts. I wanted DVDs came in carts for reasons previously stated. You think Martin Luther King had a dream? Well so do I, and mine is a simpler one.
There are more features to use and other little things that will annoy, but I'll stop here. I won't be leaving Netflix anytime soon, but I can't give Netflix anything more than three stars for the following reasons. Spotty when it comes to carrying extended, unrated, or directors cut editions. No Superbit DVDs, and they seem to make zero effort to tell their customers to stop using DVDs as coasters. They make no such plea on their site, on the discs, or in the mailers. So I guess I'll do it. Attention stupid Netflix customers keep your rented DVDs in the sleeve, or in your DVD player. A pox on every soul that scratcheth thy DVD.
© Tony Flores 2006