Video streaming from the Internet – one step closer to watching whatever you want, whenever you want! So is this ready for everyone? If you have high-speed Internet in your house – absolutely! It passes the NGUT* (Non-Geek Usage Test) – really, almost anyone can use it.
The two major competing DVD rental companies, Netflix and Blockbuster, both offer an on-line service – Netflex is a subscription service and Blockbuster uses a pay-per-view or pay-per-download model. I personally like the subscription model – the more you watch, the better the deal, but that’s just my preference.
For Netflix, you can watch movies on a computer (Windows or Mac), a Netflix player, some Blu-ray players, or a PS3. I am not big on using a PC or Mac for your media player (more on that subject in another post), and I like multi-function devices, so I recommend the PS3 or a Blu-Ray player with Netflix. I watch on both a PS3 and a Samsung BD-P1600 – these are easy to use by anyone, but they must be connected into the Internet (not necessarily easy). The only stickiness with Netflix is that you must pre-select your “Instant Queue” using a web browser. So you get an online account, use your PC to pick out what movies you might want to watch, then select and watch the movie from your TV. The subscription costs around $13/mo and includes one disc by mail at any time – there may be some promotional discounts, too.
I’ve been a Blockbuster customer since VCRs and still use them for DVDs by mail or in the store, but I have not downloaded any of their content yet. They seem to be behind the power curve compared to Netflix on getting players out to the consumers. Initially, you needed a PC to watch the Blockbuster OnDemand content – now there are more options. TiVo DVRs and the new Samsung products now support rent or purchase, as well as the 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player available directly from Blockbuster.
Yes, there are other Internet video services for commercial content, such as Hulu or Vudu – maybe more on those later. Also, media players are expanding their capabilities to play content from YouTube and other non-commercial sources.
The bottom line – I find the new slimline PS3 to be the best deal if you have any interest in console games because it has so many functions built-in. Otherwise, a Blu-ray & Netflix combo works great, and is more affordable, too.