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Eye on Demand | October 20, 2017

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Netflix (Australian Region) Review

Netflix (Australian Region) Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
9
User Interface
8.5
Content on Offer
5
Device Availability
9
Value for Money
9
8.1

Brilliant

As far as on-demand television in Australia goes, it can pretty much be defined as before Netflix and after. Just the thought of Netflix arriving on the Australian scene sent the on-demand world in that country ablaze, with improved existing services and brand new competition attempting to take the limelight away from the global leader. So how well does Netflix stack up to it’s local competition?

Although the principle of Netflix, with a low cost monthly subscription is not too different from that of Spotify, the television and film industry is significantly dissimilar enough to sadly not permit Spotify’s principle goal of making all possible content available. If you are after the latest movie releases, then Netflix may not offer exactly what you want, but lets be honest here, for what Netflix charges per month (starting at AU$8.99), you shouldn’t really expect the absolute latest films just released.

Generally speaking, new releases arrive on Netflix about the same time as they do on DVD, unless of course their main competitor Stan grabs the exclusive rights on a title. This means you will have to wait behind iTunes, Foxtel or other premium pay-TV or PPV streaming services, but in all fairness, if there really is a new release you can’t wait for (and won’t go to the cinema for either) then there is nothing to stop you from renting that specific title from a PPV service like iTunes or Quickflix  in addition to the low cost Netflix subscription.

What Netflix does offer you on the other hand, is to provide more television and films you could possibly watch. There are entire television seasons available for many popular British, American, Australian or other television series, including those exclusively made for Netflix. As well as a plethora of films, which sometimes do include recent releases from last year. You can watch on almost any device you throw at it, completely without commercials and depending on your ISP, bandwidth and platform in quality levels as high as 4K (UltraHD).

In fact, there is very little to complain about regarding this service and in many ways Netflix is generally seen as the benchmark for on-demand television.

Pricing starts at AU$8.99 per month, but most people would want at least the next level up. Here are the three pricing models Netflix offers:

Quality ButtonBefore we look at individual platforms, a word or two about video quality. There are a few exceptions to the otherwise excellent high definition quality that is technically possible. Some older television shows, especially those from the 1990’s or earlier seem to have been transcoded into a disappointingly poor quality format. Outside of that however, video quality is stunning with most platforms allowing playback in anything between 480p standard definition and 1080p HD. There are some 4K shows, but at the time of publication, not a lot.

As already mentioned, Netflix works on a great deal of hardware, with each platform offering slightly different features.This is in great contrast to Stan or Presto which at least in the early stages are very limited in their hardware support. What is nice about Netflix is that these platforms are cross-functional, meaning if you stop watching a show on one device, it will continue where you left off on another.

You must log into Netflix the first time you use it on any specific platform, but it will generally retain these settings for the future allowing quick and painless access to the home screen. Here you will fine various categories and genres for which you can browse selected titles, but these are only a small fraction of the available content and in many cases the list is generated from a combination of Netflix’s algorithms and your preferences as it tries to work out what shows you would be more interested in. Just remember though, if you watch something embarrassing, it will pop up front-of-screen whenever you fire up Netflix as your previously watched programmes are displayed for the world to see.

One way to help avoid this, is to make use of Netflix’s profiles. This allows you to create individual users under the single account – one for each member of the family, so that their own preferences, titles-watched and suggestions don’t mix with your own. It won’t hide your account from the rest of the family, as it doesn’t include any password options, but it does make it easier to separate grandmother’s love for slasher films with the kids passion for political documentaries (or cartoons).

Finally, My List makes for a great way to keep track of shows you want to watch in the future. Add a film or TV series to My List, and you will be able to find it again easily.

NOTE: I have seen issues where certain email addresses will not allow new customers to sign up. If you are trying to create a new Netflix account and failing to register your credit card or Paypal account, try creating a new account with an alternative email address – preferably with a different domain name.

 

  • Australia used to be somewhat of a backwater as far as pay subscription on-demand services went, but it wasn’t as bad as many people liked to make out. Although the country was certainly behind the UK and US, in many ways it was still ahead of other similar nations such as Canada.

    As soon as Netflix announced it was planning an Australian launch things changed almost immediately. This resulted in competing services such as Presto and Stan arriving onto the local market, and along with Quickflix, doing everything they can to carve up the licensing agreements with studios amongst themselves.

    In many ways, this has meant Netflix arrived into Australia with a much reduced library, totaling at the time of publication around 1156 titles (compared to over 7000 in the US and 3000 in the UK). Although this may sound small, it still includes many fantastic series and movies and will constantly change and grow.

    Of course, if this really is not enough, you can always add a Smart DNS service such as that from OverPlay or Unblock-us, which via an easy-to-use region selector, you can flip between countries at will, allowing access to all of Netflix’s content library that exceeds 15,000 titles. (The screenshot below was taken from OverPlay’s JetSwitch feature).

    NetflixOverPlay

    Otherwise Netflix’s current Australian library contains a good mix of mostly American and British content. I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed at the small number of Australian titles in both films and television shows, but I hope that improves over time.

    Below is a selection of titles that were available at the time of publication. This does not represent all of Netflix Australia’s content.

    NetflixAUTV1 NetflixAUTV2 NetflixAUTV3 NetflixAUTV4 NetflixAUTV5 NetflixAUTV6 NetflixAUTV7 NetflixAUTV8 NetflixAUTV9 NetflixAUTV10 NetflixAUTV11 NetflixAUTV12 NetflixAUM1 NetflixAUM2 NetflixAUM3 NetflixAUM4 NetflixAUM5 NetflixAUM6 NetflixAUM7 NetflixAUM8 NetflixAUM9 NetflixAUM10 NetflixAUM11 NetflixAUM12

     

  • Netflix Homepage

    Note: Netflix is currently updating the look of their web browser portal, so new users may see something differing to the images presented here.

    Some may wonder what exactly the point is for using Netflix via a browser. After all, do we really want to watch a film on a computer screen whilst sitting in an office chair? Actually, some people do, but many more may simply have a media center PC or laptop connected to their main television. Connecting your laptop to your TV may be for many the cheapest, if somewhat less than elegant solution to bring Netflix to your home’s big screen.

    In any case, Netflix’s website is not terribly different from their other platforms. Click anywhere on a film or television show will immediately begin playback, which is certainly quick, but can be a tad annoying if you just wanted information regarding the episode or film. For this, you must avoid clicking the film poster and instead hover over it. This will bring up a floating window with limited information, which you can expand.

    It is also natural that the web interface is the best place to configure your preferences, check your viewing history, or any matter of administration that would otherwise be too painful or slow on other platforms.

    Video quality is stated to reach Netflix’s SuperHD levels, but the best my own tests could muster were averaged at 3240kbps*, which although is quite shy from the boasted 5800kbps, it is still 720p at the very least.

    Netflix Web bitrate 3240kbps

    Tip: Tired of all the horizontal scrolling? Try this God Mode hack from bit2pixel. It allows all the movies to highlighted in one go without the need to scroll.

    Platform Pros:

    • Easy to use and navigate.
    • Best place for Netflix administration.
    • Shows previously watched content, making it easy to see what has already been watched.
    • Supports cross-platform resume.
    • Supports user profiles.
    • Supports My List.
    • 1080p (SuperHD) video quality if your ISP supports it.
    • Supports Chromecast.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not the most sofa-friendly platform.
    • No control over subtitles.

    If you are the type that loves keyboard shortcuts, here are a few that may keep you happy:

    Spacebar or Enter - Play & Pause Video PgUp - Play on its own PgDn - Pause on its own F - Full Screen ESC - Exit from full screen Arrow Down - Turn down volume Arrow Up - Turn up volume Shift + Right Arrow - Fast forward Shift + Left Arrow - Rewind
    Keyboard shortcuts for full screen mode
    Control and Spacebar - Change modes to frame forward and frame backward Arrow Left - When in key frame mode to move backward a frame Arrow Right - When in key frame mode to move forward a frame
    And finally some more complex configurations:
    Control, Shift, Alt, and D - Bring up audio video statistics Control, Shift, Alt, and M - Bring up menu Control, Shift, Alt, and L - Bring Up logging window Control, Shift, Alt, and P - Load player info Control, Shift, Alt, and S - View streaming bitrate Control, Shift, Alt, and C - Allow for codes, such as frame rate

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    iMac

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Presuming you are living in a region that offers the Netflix service, and you already have a Samsung Smart TV, then you may have already noticed the Netflix widget on your Smart Hub, or at least in the app store. If your region doesn’t yet support Netflix, there are still ways to get it. You will have to change app stores and install the app (Check out the “How-to” guide by following this link) as well as configure some sort of Smart DNS or VPN service. (Instructions given here)

    Like anything with a Samsung Smart TV app, there are pros and cons when using this platform. On the positive side, the Samsung Smart Hub widget is one of the more feature rich platforms out there, the only significant downside is if the Smart TV used has the grunt to pull off a UI without lag. My own experiences with a mid-range 2012 model was of slight sluggishness in UI response, but excellent in video playback with streams averaging on my own tests at approx. 3300kbps* (the same as I experienced via the web interface). This wasn’t quite the true 1080p I was hoping for, but still a very good quality stream.

    I do like all the additional options available in this widget, as well as the excellent handling of episodes and seasons – one of the most comprehensive I have seen on any platform.

    Platform Pros:

    • Supports SuperHD (1080p) when available.
    • Ability to change or switch off subtitles – great for viewing English language content from a non-English region (SmartDNS required).
    • Improved fast forward and rewind controls, where you can see small segments from every few frames.
    • Built in directly to your Samsung television, so no additional hardware or remote required.
    • Shows previously watched content, making it easy to see what has already been watched.
    • Supports cross-platform resume.
    • One of the best episode and season selector of all platforms, offering the most amount of detail and information.
    • Supports user profiles on F-series.
    • Supports My List.

    Platform Cons:

    • User Interface is sluggish on many Samsung TV models, but this is more a case of Samsung cutting hardware costs.
    • The WiFi on many Samsung TV models are less than perfect.
    • Interface is a little clunky.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    Samsung

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Whether you are using an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, the Netflix app is a joy to use. In fact, especially on the iPad you have a wonderfully easy User Interface to navigate. Due to the touch screen UI, tablets are almost the perfect interface between us and on-demand television content.

    There are a few interesting features that are quite well implemented within the iOS app, especially practical on the larger iPad screen. The first being a particularly easy way to navigate episodes within a series, and the second being a very handy alternate-audio and subtitle control panel – both easily accessible by tapping the video screen during normal playback. Television episodes will auto-play to the next episode, a feature which may encourage binge viewing, by minimizing the credits to tee-up to the next episode. If the viewer does nothing, the next episode will automatically start, whereas after a film the viewer will be presented with three additional movie recommendations.

    One of the big changes with the new updated iOS app, is its full AirPlay support, complete with multitasking, meaning you can switch off your iPad or iPhone or use it for other purposes while your content keeps playing.

    Netflix have recently improved the quality of their streams for the iPad and iPhone 6 Plus, with our own iPad tests averaging a very impressive 6210kbps*. This is not only a great 1080p stream on the iPad’s relatively small screen, but it looks fantastic when airplayed to a proper TV as well.

    Netflix iPad bitrate 6210kbps

    For the rest of the iPhone range, 720p is the maximum you will get. Our tests averaged 3320kbps* which to be honest is great on the small screens. But keep in mind you won’t get quite the stellar performance of the larger iOS devices when airplaying. Frankly though, this will probably only be missed on televisions larger than 40 inches.

    Netflix iPhone bitrate 3320kbps

    If you have a Roku box instead of the Apple TV, you can still pair them together and allow the iPad to act as a second screen. Playback can select the Roku device so the content plays on the main screen, and this can be a great way to navigate shows on your lap, but still use the Roku for big-TV playback.

    Of course, as you would expect regarding video playback on an iOS device, you have the ability to easily access any point of the video simply by dragging the position slider. However, Netflix also makes use of a small thumbnail during scrubbing, which is a fantastic aid to find that exact spot in a film or TV show.

    It is of course possible to use Netflix over 3G, but you will face the usual problems with video quality, reception, data caps or costs to possibly reconsider this method. If you do not have access to Wi-Fi, It may be better to use an alternative service that allows for digital downloads.

    Finally, the iOS app supports Netflix’s user profiles, meaning each member of a household can create their own recommendations despite everyone using a single account. Choosing a profile is made either as soon as the app fires up, or at any stage from the profile button at the top/right of the screen.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent UI.
    • Video quality is great for the small screens.
    • Supports cross-platform resume.
    • Fast forward & rewind uses the excellent position slider with thumbnail view.
    • 3G support if you really must.
    • Support for alternative audio and subtitle control.
    • Easy switch between episodes during video playback.
    • Supports user profiles.
    • Second-screen functionality with other devices including the Roku platform.
    • Supports Chromecast.

    Platform Cons:

    • Does not support HD (outside of iPhone 6 Plus).
    • No control over subtitles.
    • No second-screen options for the ATV app.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • As in all things Apple, the user interface Netflix operates here is beautiful and simple to use. It should be, as it is generally speaking the same UI as used for other core video apps on the Apple TV. Unlike older Samsung Smart Hubs, there are no sluggish UI issues here but that isn’t to say there are no downsides either.

    Anyone familiar with official Apple iOS apps on their iPhone will know how few and far new features are provided and it is no different here on the Apple TV. The interface may be slick, but it does lack some of the features found on other platforms. That said, it is still an extremely pleasant app to work with and more than enough for general use.

    Nevertheless, the Apple TV was one of the first Netflix platforms to support the new Profiles feature, which sort of flies in the face of tradition. This new Netflix feature allow users to have multiple profiles under a single account. This means it is possible to switch users in a household to avoid mixing suggestions and previously watched content with everyone else. Great to separate dad’s action and horror films from daughters Dora the Explorer. But don’t treat this as a privacy feature as no passwords are needed to switch profiles.

    Video quality is excellent, and SuperHD streams are possible with this platform. There is no way to manually set the bitrate, unlike the web-platform, so video may start off at a lower setting before settling on something much better within a few short moments. We measured an average of 6210kbps* in our own tests, which is standard for Netflix’s 1080p streams.

    Netflix ATV bitrate 6210kbps

    Overall, the Netflix app on this platform is well-rounded and works without fuss. It could do with better scrubbing (Roku style) and subtitle control, but despite that it is still one of the better portals around.

    Platform Pros:

    • Beautiful and functional UI.
    • 1080p (Super HD) video quality if your ISP supports it.
    • Supports cross-platform resume.
    • Supports user Profiles.

    Platform Cons:

    • No indication of which programmes have been watched making it difficult to keep track of your television series.
    • Scrubbing, fast forward and rewind are somewhat clunky.
    • No control over subtitles.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Netflix certainly don’t rest on their laurels, so if any on-demand service was to provide a Windows 8 app, Netflix would certainly be one of them. And to be honest, what a beautiful job Netflix have done as well.

    Win8 1Win8 apps are designed to work in full-screen, if possible a touch-screen (where it really shines) and as expected, once Netflix is installed it can be accessed through the Windows home-screen tiles. The Netflix home page itself is one of their most beautiful; The left side of the screen presents a selection of options, from the Top 10 selected based on your previous usage, their New Releases as well as a Genre list. The middle of the screen holds the last few videos that are either unfinished or next in a television series ready to watch. Scrolling from the right (or swiping on a touch-screen) and you will be presented with a vast selection of recommended titles from everything between being based on previous selections to various highlighted collections.

    In a far better approach than what is used with their web portal, clicking on a poster will bring up a dedicated screen with more information rather than directly starting the film. This makes it easy to read any details and make decisions, as well as opening up a pile of new browsing options since every name and category is hyperlinked to an extended search. Thankfully there is always a back button you can use to find your way back to the beginning, as you can drill quite deep using this method.

    This app also makes good use of Netflix’s Super HD feature with the highest bitrate on offer an impressive 5800kbps – presuming your Internet connection can handle it. Pressing Control+Shift+Alt+S will bring up a hidden menu where you can see exactly what automatic bitrate Netflix has assigned you, or you can manually try your hand at the highest. Our own tests averaged 6140kbps* over a 30minute period, so don’t waste this on your tiny laptop or win8 tablet screen – make sure you are connecting your computer to a large television to make the most of this high quality 1080p video.

    Netflix Win8 bitrate 6140kbps

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent and beautiful UI.
    • Amazing video quality with Super HD support at 5800kbps.
    • Supports cross-platform resume.

    Platform Cons:

    • No control over subtitles.
    • Possible limited support for Windows Media Center remote.

    There is little not to like with this Netflix Win8 app. If you have an appropriate touch screen laptop or computer, you will have at your disposal one of the best Netflix user interfaces available. In fact, there is very little reason to use the standard browser portal on a Windows 8 machine when you can install this app for free.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    Win 8 laptop

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • As is so often the case with apps on the Amazon Fire TV, it becomes extremely difficult to not automatically award it with the Best App award. Most of this comes down to the excellent device that the AFTV box really is, its great value for money, and the power under the hood. All that this needed to steal the title, would be one additional benefit, and it comes awfully close.

    The problem is, is that the AFTV’s voice search doesn’t bring up Netflix results. At the time of publication, it only supported Amazon’s own content and Hulu. Perhaps Amazon are a little wary to add Netflix into the results, as unlike Hulu which can be considered a different kettle of fish, this could drive potential customers away from Amazon’s own service, although in reality, I would imagine that most people who have an AFTV also have Prime anyway.

    If it did bring up Netflix results, then this would have propelled the AFTV Netflix app to win our award. After-all, it probably is slightly better than the Roku app, simply because the hardware behind it is faster, but that alone is not enough to steal the limelight.

    In all other respects this is a great app, and offers all of the same features and great UI found on most other set-top-boxes bar the Apple TV.

    Video quality was as great as you can expect for Netflix, with our 1080p HD streams measuring an impressive average of 6280kbps*. Video was beautifully sharp, crisp and clear on our reference TV.

    Netflix AFTV bitrate 6280kbps

    Of course, we do hope that one day Amazon will allow other competing services to include Netflix results in their voice search. After-all, although the Roku’s search is not by any means vocally acquired, it at least is global and a little less biased.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fast & fluid UI
    • Great video quality
    • Includes all the same great features of other platforms.

    Platform Cons:

    • Voice search doesn’t bring up Netflix results.
    • AFTV not officially available in Australia.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Best Choice StampA couple of years ago, Netflix updated their user interface on selected platforms with the Roku 3 box being one of the first to sport the new look. Lower number Roku boxes had to suffice with the older UI until later in 2014, but most should now sport the new interface.

    Along with the new UI which is now the Netflix standard across the board, came user profiles.

    Profiles are a godsend especially in family homes, allowing each member to have their own lists and recommendations, so the kids and parents content don’t mix and match.

    Once your profile opens up, your “My List” titles will be at the very top of the screen, highlighting TV shows or movies that you want to keep an eye on for future viewing. Not far from that sits your previously watched selection, followed by a vast range of suggestions based either on what you have watched or popular genres and collections.

    The new Netflix UI has far better separation of episodes on television series, clearly splitting seasons with individual posters for each episode, along with an easy start of the next episode in the queue for those who want to binge. Although I do miss the current episode info when you land on a series. It will display a run-down of the series rather that the specific episode, which may be good for episode one of season one, but when you are 45 episodes down, I imagine the viewer would have a general idea of what the TV show is all about.

    Kids get special treatment here, with their own dedicated side to Netflix. This is great for parents who want to keep an eye on what their children access, and of course much more interesting for the young ones themselves.

    To get to the kids section, the search feature along with changing your profile, keep pressing the up arrow button all the way to the top and beyond, or simply use the back button. This menu is a bit hidden, but easy enough once you remember how to get there.

    Video quality was excellent in our tests, averaging 6120kbps*, which places it in the same top-end standard as most other platforms in this review. We experienced no major pixelation or visual artifacts when viewing and as always with Netflix’s 1080p streams, impressed.

    Netflix Roku bitrate 6120kbps

    Finally, if you have an iOS device, you can use the Netflix app on that as a second-screen to browse and select content which can play back on your big screen via the Roku box.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic UI.
    • Supports user profiles.
    • Great HD quality streams.
    • Quick access to next episode for binging.
    • Dedicated kids section.
    • Easy search function.
    • My List to keep track of viewer’s wishlist.
    • Full Resume ability.
    • Excellent cross-platform support.
    • iOS app acts as second-screen.
    • Great scrubbing with thumbnails.
    • Jump-back button, to hop 15 seconds or so back in time.

    Platform Cons:

    • TV shows don’t show episode details on the programmes launch page.
    • FFW & REW thumbnails not quite as responsive as before.
    • Roku not officially available in Australia.
    • Must configure Smart DNS on a router.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region using a Roku device may require a Smart DNS configured on the router)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Netflix first appeared on the Xbox One as it launched, and what a mess it was back then. Instead of the standard user interface Netflix employs over most other platforms, the Xbox One app shunned familiarity for the console’s own horizontally-focused standard. The result was a mixture of confusion and loathing by many of its users. For us, incertitude reigned.

    Actually, the Xbox One itself has a relatively fine UI, and in many cases when apps follow the console’s stock template, it works ok. But for Netflix, it just made it more difficult to find the content, which is a vital part of any streaming service.

    Thankfully that has all changed, and the current Netflix app makes use of their standard set of conventions you’ll find on almost every other set-top-box, with the usual exception of the Apple TV.

    It would be a general waste of time to go over all the same details for this particular app, so for the most part, just follow what you read in the other tabs in this review. All the usual features are here such as My List, Cross-Platform Support, Resume and the myriad of categories.

    Playback is of course stunning, with video being quality crisp, clear and sharp – just as should be expected with Netflix playing on a box with enough power to create a small black hole. My own tests averaged 6500kbps*, which leaves me just waiting for Netflix’s 4K delivery since this platform is technically capable of that.

    Netflix XboxOne bitrate 6500kbps

    Of course, one really cool thing about this app on the Xbox One is that there are no less than five different ways to control your browsing and viewing pleasure.

    Voice: How cool is this, you can tell Netflix to start directly from the Xbox One’s Home screen. In fact, if you pin your favourite shows to the Xbox Home screen, you can begin playback of an episode with only a couple of basic command, starting with for example, “Xbox go to House Of Cards”. It is possible to pause, continue, stop, and browse televi

    sion shows purely by voice, and it even works with fast forward and rewinding, but good luck for keyword searches. Voice control though can be finicky. When it works, it does so with grace and style and really makes it seem like the future is here to stay. But it is almost guaranteed to fail as soon as you try to demonstrate it to someone else, especially those critical of tech.

    Motion Control: On the other hand, if you prefer you can sit on your sofa and wave your hands around like an idiot. It may work, but it probably won’t. On that note, at one point it confused my foot resting on the table for the palm of my hand and tried to follow it around.

    Xbox Controller: In most cases, the Xbox One controller will be the obvious choice. The only real downsides here are the awkward shape requiring a two-handed operation, and the problem it will go into hibernation after a while – still, if you urgently need to pause, you can always yell it out. Otherwise the controller is a pleasant way to navigate and control Netflix, and at least for navigating, one of the best.

    Controller

     

    SmartGlass: I had been rather excited to see how the Xbox One would improve on their SmartGlass after all the hype Microsoft dished out. The reality is quite disappointing. There are no true second-screen activities here, with t

    he only use being a thoughtlessly designed remote. In fact, SmartGlass is so poorly implemented, the one place where it would work better than anywhere else – the search function – doesn’t even bring up a proper keyboard.

    Programmable remote: As a last resort, you can always turn to a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony, and return back to the retro pleasures of horizontal one-hand sofa laziness. Once set up, it will work just as a good remote should, but be prepared for a lot of hair-loss during configurations, especially if you are competing with voice control to also switch on your Xbox and TV.

    Platform Pros:

    • Stunning high quality video playback.
    • My List supported.
    • Profiles supported.
    • Excellent cross-platform support.
    • Resume function supported.
    • Can pin favourite shows to Xbox Home Screen.
    • Can control by Voice.
    • Can mix and match with apps from other countries (requires Smart DNS to work)

    Platform Cons:

    • Controller requires two hands and falls asleep.
    • Hand gestures hardly work.
    • Voice control can be finicky.
    • SmartGlass is poorly implemented without even a keyboard.
    • UI a little too dark in my opinion.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

  • There is no doubt about it, Netflix on the PlayStation 4 is my second favourite platform after the Roku 3 incarnation. It’s fast, fluid and works almost perfectly.

    Unlike their app on the Xbox One, where they use a custom UI to make things fit in more with the Xbox tiled theme, here they’ve stuck to their mainstream interface which is one of the best in the on-demand world.

    You have all the features that make Netflix so fantastic including Profiles, My List (Netflix’s watchlists), fantastic cross-platform resume and episode management along with the best thumbnail-supported scrubbing out there.

    So why doesn’t it take the top spot? Well, there are a couple of irritating things the PS4 forces upon us. For a start, with no easy ability to use a universal remote, we are forced into the two-handed DualShock to control everything. Just to make matters worse, it doesn’t even make use of all the available buttons.

    PS4 Controller Netflix1

    And that’s really all there is holding this back. Well, it could do with proper FFW and REW. Don’t get me wrong, I love the scrubbing option and would use that 95% of the time anyway, but I sometimes miss the accuracy of basic FFW & REW, especially when you can go slow motion.

    But with an interface so sleek and responsive, and video quality so good (tested at 1080p with an average bitrate of 6770kbps), I tend to use this platform to watch Netflix whenever I’m away from the Roku 3 box.

    Netflix PS4 bitrate 6770kbps

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic UI, near the best of the bunch.
    • Supports user profiles.
    • Great HD quality streams.
    • Quick access to next episode for binging.
    • Dedicated kids section.
    • Easy search function.
    • My List to keep track of viewer’s wishlist.
    • Full Resume ability.
    • Excellent cross-platform support.
    • Great scrubbing with thumbnails.

    Platform Cons:

    • Controller requires two hands and doesn’t make good use of buttons.
    • No true FFW and REW.
    • No Jump-back button, to hop 15 or 30seconds backwards.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

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  • This review was tested on a Chromecast using an iPad as the controlling device.

    For the most part, Chromecast utilizes the user interface from the platform controlling it, in which case this is currently either a web browser or an app on a smart phone or tablet. The only difference now is that a small Chromecast button also appears if a device is within the network.

    Which means at least for this review, refer to the iOS tab for a review over the general user interface.

    That aside, there are two methods to implement chromecasting, the first is a global setting, activated by pressing the Chromecast button almost always found at the top of the iPad or iPhone screen, with the second option selecting directly from the playback window.

    There is not a lot of difference between either method, with the only main point being that if you select the global button, a basic flash-screen indicating that Netflix is ready to chromecast appears on the TV screen, and any time you begin a programme, it will automatically play on the TV by default.

    Chromecast Netflix

    This differs from the playback button where only that specific show will chromecast to the main TV.

    Video quality on the media I tested averaged 6150kbps* which of course is a stunning 1080p HD stream. There certainly won’t be much criticism over video quality.

    Netflix Chromecast bitrate 6150kbps

    So what happens to the mobile device after the live stream begins? Well, the content playing back will leave a poster on your iPad screen, along with a scrubbing timeline complete with thumbnails, a 10second backwards jump button, volume, audio/subtitle controls and a quick link to additional episodes.

    Being a Chromecast stream, you can now move away from the playback screen by pressing the back button, and either browse Netflix for alternative shows, use the iPad for something else, switch off, or even remove entirely from the network. You don’t actually need the iOS device at all anymore, well, except to stop the stream. As long as you are still in Netflix, there will be a blue banner at the top indicating what is currently playing and a quick link back to the control screen, which works great except on one occasion where it locked up on me and I needed to reboot Netflix on the iPad.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic and easy way to stream Netflix content to a TV from Android or Apple without the need of AirPlay.
    • Full multitasking on the mobile device used for controlling.
    • Brilliant video quality.
    • Easy to use.
    • Includes all of the great features of Netflix’s mobile platforms.
    • Affordable way to get Netflix onto your main TV.

    Platform Cons:

    • No way to easily stop the show without finding you way back to the exact spot in the Netflix app.
    • Currently Playing bar was on occasions unresponsive.
    • Requires a bit of fiddling to get working with Smart DNS.

    (Accessing Netflix via Chromecast in a non-Netflix region may require a Smart DNS service configured on your router along with some method of blocking Google’s own DNS servers)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

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  • If anyone remembers Google’s earlier attempts at streaming set-top-boxes, they may very well cringe at the thought of using another platform powered by the same company. But times have certainly changed since the recent success of Chromecast, and Google’s new attempt has made great improvements over earlier platforms.

    Netflix’s app on the Android TV powered Nexus Player shows this clearly, by failing to be any different to most competing platforms – which is generally speaking a positive thing. Unfortunately the Android TV has a great potential feature with their Voice Search option, and Netflix is not yet included in the results. In all fairness, Google have clamped this down to only include their own streaming services for the moment, but if it was functional, it could very well allow this platform to stand out from the crowd.

    In all other respects, Netflix is essentially the same on the Nexus Player as it would be from other platforms. It takes a few more clicks to get to Netflix than should when the box is first powered up, and I have had the odd experience on several occasions where the Nexus Player suddenly jumps to Crackle in mid playback during a Netflix session, but hopefully that bug is ironed out shortly.

    Video quality is as good as Netflix can get for 1080p streams. Our tests averaged 6210kbps*, and as long as it didn’t suddenly change to the Crackle app, the video played back beautifully.

    Netflix Nexus bitrate 6210kbps

    Platform Pros:

    • High quality video streams
    • Standard fast & fluid UI
    • Includes all the same great features of other platforms.

    Platform Cons:

    • Odd bug which sometimes switches the Nexus to Crackle.
    • No voice search integration.
    • Horrible remote.
    • To many clicks on the cheap remote to reach Netflix.

    (Accessing Netflix outside of an official region may require a good Smart DNS or VPN service)

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

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  • There is very little to complain about Netflix. Not only does it do exactly as it suggests on the tin, it does this without fuss or complications. There are no commercials to interrupt your films or television series, the video quality is excellent and the hardware support is extensive.

    It is even quite affordable and offers your first month free as a trial to get you started. If you want to end your subscription, simply cancel it and when your month is over there will be no further payments.

    Some people do complain about the lack of new release films, but in all honesty this will never be a primary feature of Netflix, not at this price point. Besides, if you really can’t wait for the film you want to arrive on Netflix, you can still rent and stream them through other on-demand PPV methods. The chances are, a monthly Netflix subscription (even including a Smart DNS service), plus the odd new release rental, will still be far below the cost of many cable or satellite operators, especially when you include their premium film packages.

    One mistake many people make is to assume that the listed TV programmes and films are the limit of the Netflix catalogue. These are only suggestions made by Netflix based on your previous viewing habits as well as preferences set in your profile. To find a complete list of Netflix content, it is often best to use a third party service as shown on our Searching the Streams page.

    Others may complain that their local libraries are far too small compared to the American one, which is true to a point. But add a Smart DNS service and this no longer becomes a concern. In fact, a good Smart DNS with Netflix gives you access to so much global content from around the world, there will never be enough time to watch whatever you want.

    If I could think of one major missing feature for Netflix, that would for me be the lack of offline downloads. Imagine the ease of watching shows while traveling or commuting. Not to mention for the hotel when on a business trip or family holiday in a country where your own language is not spoken. The day Netflix includes this, the service would almost be complete.

    Pros:

    • Excellent Hardware support.
    • Excellent video quality (up to 1080p).
    • Comprehensive User Interface.
    • Profiles available on selected platforms.
    • Watchlist possible using the My List feature.
    • Great range of content.
    • Supports cross-platform resume.
    • Value for money.
    • Easy to cancel.
    • One month free trial.
    • Works even better with a Smart DNS service (additional cost from a 3rd party supplier)
    • 3D titles available from the US library.
    • Second-screen options with selected platforms.
    • Makes good use of voice control on Xbox One.

    Cons:

    • No offline downloads.
    • Different platforms support different features.
    • Netflix suggestions don’t always get it right.

    Log:

    31.03.2015: Published. Score 8.1 – Brilliant.

     

    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

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