Netflix Review: Watch all of your favorite original shows in one place
- Original programming of the highest quality
- Streaming without ads
- Excellent features and apps
- Mobile Downloads (Offline)
- Option to rent physical media
- Expensive, and there is no longer a trial period
- There is little or no information on changes in content availability
|Starting Price||$8.99 per month|
|Concurrent Streams||1, 2, or 4|
|Movies and TV Shows On-Demand||Yes|
|Mobile Downloads (Offline)||Yes|
Even though Netflix’s streaming service began as a niche expansion of its disc-mailing service, it is now the category’s front-runner due to its solid core catalog and some of the best original programming. Netflix also has excellent features in all of its interfaces, allows offline downloads on mobile platforms, and offers 4K content.
However, with other high-profile services currently being offered at lower prices, Netflix’s comparable plans stand out as prohibitively expensive. For the time being, Netflix remains an Editors’ Choice for on-demand video streaming services due to its diverse, high-quality content and competent applications.
What’s in Netflix’s Catalog?
Netflix has a massive collection of video content, but it is constantly changing. Shows that are on one day can be unavailable the next. It is impossible to predict what will be available on Netflix at any given moment, but that is part of the fun. Many of Netflix’s most popular shows, like The Office (to NBC’s Peacock), Friends (to HBO Max), and some Marvel movies (to Disney+), will be lost soon.
Netflix would need to focus more heavily on its original content in the coming years, which could be dangerous, uncharted ground for the business. In reality, the transition is still underway. Netflix’s catalog is decreasing as it expands its original content offerings.
Netflix’s TV shows are season-complete, which is not necessarily the case with competitors. If you fall behind on a show, Hulu can only have the most recent few episodes, making it difficult to catch up. Netflix, on the other hand, only adds shows one season at a time. If you do not have cable, Hulu delivers at least half of its shows within a day or two of the broadcast so that you can stay in touch with the cultural zeitgeist. Do you want to see what other Netflix users are watching? The service now keeps track of the most popular shows and movies on the platform.
On the other hand, Netflix is doing well for its original productions, with many titles being cultural phenomenons. Among the shows on this impressive list are The witcher, The Umbrella Academy, The Stranger, The Crown, Stranger Things, Russian Doll, Ozark, Orange is the New Black, Never Have I Ever, Locke and Key, Dead to Me, Bojack Horseman, and Black Mirror. The Queen’s Gambit, the Chicago 7, and The Crown trial are among the titles nominated for Golden Globes in 2021. In our list of the best video streaming sites for showcasing Black art, Netflix takes the top spot.
Netflix also publishes feature films, comedy specials, and documentaries for those longing for something more self-contained. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, for example, received positive feedback on Netflix. Another example is Martin Scorcese’s film The Irishman. Netflix has promised to bring a new film to its streaming catalog every week in 2021.
If you like watching movies, take a look at our list of the best movie streaming services. Many services in this group, such as The Criterion Channel and Mubi, are noteworthy for curating their collections.
When it comes to original programming though, Netflix no longer has the monopoly it once had. May top-tier shows and adaptations are available on Amazon Prime Video, including Undone, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle, The Expanse, The Boys, Patriot, Jack Ryan, Hunters, Good Omens, Fleabag, and Bosch. Hulu is best known for its broadcast television lineup. Still, with original shows like Castle Rock, Casual, Catch 22, Harlots, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the continuation of Veronica Mars, it is catching up.
With titles like For All Mankind and The Mandalorian, Apple TV+ and Disney+ offer a lot of forthcoming original content. Original shows on CBS All Access feature Why Women Kill, The Twilight Zone ( The rebooted Series ), The Good Fight, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Discovery.
Netflix is known for producing award-winning documentaries on household names. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes documentaries that dig into the lives of celebrities, from Miss Americana: Taylor Swift to Becoming, a documentary on Michelle Obama, to Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning Homecoming. The Two Killings of Sam Cooke, And 13th, Grammy-winner Quincy, and The Oscar-Nominated What Happened Miss Simone? are among the titles included in Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection. There are also notorious nature documentaries like Blackfish and conversation starters like Being Elmo and FYRE, a documentary about the 2017 Fyre Festival.
They also have a wealth of true documentaries on crime, such as Amanda Knox, Long Shot, and American Murder: The Next Door Family. Netflix has titles like My Octopus Teacher and The Speed Cubers, a documentary about Rubik’s Cube competitors, if you are hoping for something a bit more upbeat. The Last Dance, a multipart documentary about Michael Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls, is a must-see for sports enthusiasts.
On the other hand, Netflix has quietly established itself as an outstanding source of anime streaming. With older series like Inu Yasha, Robotech, Little Witch Academia, and Rurouni Kenshin, it does exceptionally well. Netflix has also extended its considerable production clout to anime, rebooting original shows like Voltron and She-Ra and developing original series like Castlevania.
Netflix’s anime collection has the same problem as the majority of its content: it comes and goes without notice. Crunchyroll has a much more extensive and more industry-leading anime content library. Hulu is another option for anime lovers, with over 400 classic and critically acclaimed anime shows and movies like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell.
What Is the Cost of Netflix?
Netflix has steadily increased the prices of all three of its subscription plans over time. The two higher-priced plans are affected by the latest price increase. The most affordable option is $8.99 a month, which grants you access to Netflix’s entire content library but limits you to streaming in SD quality, downloading titles to a single device, and streaming on just one screen at a time. The $13.99/month Standard plan (previously $12.99/month) includes HD streaming, two simultaneous streams, and the ability to download titles to up to two devices at once.
The $17.99-per-month (previously $15.99-per-month) plan could be a good option for families or groups of friends who choose to share accounts. The top tier grants access to Ultra HD (4K) streaming, four simultaneous streams, and the right to download titles to up to four devices.
Follow our instructions on how to cancel or modify your Netflix subscription if you no longer wish to pay (or want to pay less). It is worth noting that Netflix no longer offers a free trial.
Except for previews of in-house content on Netflix’s applications, all of the content is ad-free. Those previews can now be switched off, which is a relief. HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video all promote their new shows in the same way. It is worth noting that even Hulu’s ad-free service has occasional commercials.
Hulu’s base plan (with ads) costs $5.99 a month, but you can spend $11.99 a month to get absolutely no ads. At $8.99 a month, Prime Video fits Netflix’s base plan. Both Apple TV+ and discovery+ are available for $4.99 a month. Simultaneous streams and 4K streams are available on some services; Netflix charges extra for these features. Acorn TV and BritBox, the two British-focused platforms we have reviewed, are less costly, at $5.99 and $6.99 a month, respectively. HBO Max is now less expensive than Netflix’s Premium plan ($14.99 a month).
The Premium tier of Netflix is comparable to the cost of some live TV services. Locast, for example, is just $5 a month, while Philo, which focuses on sports, is $20 a month.
Try one of the best free video streaming services if you do not want to pay for your entertainment. Peacock is our top choice for the category because of its roster of mainstream TV shows and movies.
Netflix also has Android and iOS and media streaming devices like the Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, and Roku, and game consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It also has a desktop app for Windows 10 and one for Facebook’s Portal device in the Microsoft Store.
Netflix started as a DVD-by-mail service, which it still is, although it is a separate subscription from the Netflix streaming service. You can sign up for it directly at dvd.netflix.com (a Netflix subsidiary) or add it to your existing Netflix account.
Standard DVD plans start at $7.99 a month and provide one disc out per month and an unlimited number of DVDs. For this plan, there are no late fees, and delivery and returns are also free. The Premier plan, which costs $11.99 a month, has all of the Standard plan’s benefits and lets you take two discs out at a time. If you want HD Blu-ray DVDs, the Standard and Premier plans would cost you $9.99 and $14.99 a month, respectively.
The main advantage of using Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service is that it expands the company’s catalog. When you do not find a TV show or movie to watch, look at the DVD collection. However, it is still a brilliant idea to see whether you can buy or rent the same content on a PC or Xbox from Amazon, iTunes, or the Microsoft Store. You would not have to wait for an envelope to arrive in the mail.
Netflix: On the Web
The web interface for Netflix has a dark background, white text, and extensive media thumbnails. My List, Recently Added, Movies, Tv-Shows, and Home are the top menu parts that look elegant and easy to navigate. You can use the search bar in the upper right-hand corner, manage your accounts, browse account settings, and open Netflix’s help center. Account features go beyond what most other video streaming services do, including email contact, closed captioning, parental controls, and playback settings. You can still see what you have been watching lately (Content Watched) and what you have been streaming (devices used and when). We had no problems with Netflix’s web interface in terms of performance.
The Home section shows a baffling number of horizontally scrolling lists of shows and movies organized by categories like New Releases, Popular on Netflix, and Trending Now, with the most recent notable content at the top. A video preview with sound appears when you hover over some content; We find them irritating and would like the option to disable them. You can access more detailed information and available episodes by clicking on an entry, as well as a percentage recommendation based on your viewing history. You may also offer thumbs up (or down) scores to content. Finally, you can save shows and movies you want to watch by adding them to My List.
Netflix users can sort the Shows and Movies sections by genre and further filter the content lists by recommendations, release year, and alphabetical order. Netflix’s originals do not have their category in the TV Shows or Movies genre lists, which is odd. Instead, to find them all in one place, scroll down to one of the horizontally scrolling sections. Given Netflix’s continuously evolving catalog, knowing when things are available before would be helpful, as would the ability to set expiration reminders.
Netflix: on Mobile
On our test devices, we had no trouble downloading or logging into Netflix for Android or iOS. The app is well-designed and works well, and it closely resembles the web interface.
Home, Search, Extras, Downloads, and More are the five menu icons at the bottom of the screen you use to access the app. The Netflix iPhone app has the same capabilities as the Android version and looks almost similar, with a few minor navigational differences. For example, the Extras icon in the iOS app’s bottom menu bar is missing.
Like many other on-demand video streaming services, Netflix helps you download specific titles for offline viewing. There is no search feature in the Downloads tab, which displays anything you have designated for offline viewing. A 50-minute episode of Planet Earth II took less than two minutes to stream in high quality when we tested download speeds over a fast Wi-Fi network. Some titles have a 48-hour expiration date, and others can only be accessed a limited amount of times.
You can sort by TV Shows or Movies on the Home tab and view My List entries. Based on your viewing history, the Extras segment displays highlights of recent and noteworthy content. The More tab contains all of the app’s basic settings, including Netflix’s Smart Downloads feature, which comes in handy for binge-watching. Netflix deletes an episode after you have finished viewing it and then saves the next one. This functionality performed as expected during testing. This section allows you to manage profiles and set network streaming preferences.
Netflix Streaming and Playback
Netflix’s playback screen is one of the finest we have seen. Aside from the standard 10-second rewind and fast forward controls, You may also change the audio and subtitle language and view a list of all episodes of a show by season and skip to the next episode. When you scrub, the progress bar also displays content previews. A Skip Intro function is another helpful functionality that many other video streaming services have since copied. We hope Netflix introduces a process similar to Prime Video’s X-Ray, which detects performers, actresses, and music in a scene. We would also like the ability to adjust the playback resolution.
By streaming an episode of Bojack Horseman over a home Ethernet connection (200Mbps download), we checked playback speed on the web. There was no stuttering or pause that we noticed. Over Wi-Fi network (15 Mbps download), On an Android test device, we streamed an episode of Planet Earth II and experienced crisp video and clear audio. Planet Earth II, sadly, has been removed from Netflix’s catalog.
Extras and Accessibility
While you can adjust the audio and subtitle language from the Netflix playback screen, you must use the web app to customize subtitles. Audio Descriptions are available for some Netflix series and Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+. Audio descriptions, according to Netflix, are “describe what is happening on-screen, including physical actions, facial expressions, costumes, settings and scene changes.” The Audio Description Project’s website has a complete list of Netflix titles that support Audio Descriptions.
Netflix is one of the few on-demand video streaming services we have tested that limits the number of simultaneous streams and streaming resolutions depending on your subscription tier; most services provide a single tier for all features. For example, Disney+’s only plan allows four simultaneous streams, the same as Netflix’s top tier. BritBox outperforms them all by supporting five concurrent streams. Netflix, as previously stated, allows a Premium membership to watch shows in 4K, whereas Apple+, Disney+, and Prime Video do not charge extra for this feature.
For select titles and supported devices, Netflix and the same three services support the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos standards. Apple TV+ has an edge here to guarantee that a more significant proportion of the advertising can support these standards in the future. On Netflix, you can specifically search for 4K and UHD content; detail pages of shows and movies also display this information.
Netflix has a variety of family-friendly content as well as content tailored for young children. You can block content of specific ratings behind a PIN code in your account settings on the web or do the same for individual shows and movies. Netflix is unique in that it allows up to four different users to have their profiles. Profiles enable Netflix to tune better its recommendations for whoever is watching, in addition to the content control benefits. You can create up to seven profiles on Disney+.
Is it Possible to Watch Netflix Via VPN?
Netflix’s available catalog differs widely based on where you live, and depending on the country you live in; you might not be able to watch any shows at all. Similarly, if you fly overseas, you can find that you are unexpectedly unable to continue watching certain shows. A virtual private network (VPN) provider could be able to help in certain situations. On the other hand, Netflix has been working tirelessly to limit VPN entry to keep location-based content restrictions in place.
We tried to browse Netflix on our research desktop and mobile devices, all attached to a Mullvad VPN server in the United States. On neither device we were able to stream content.
If you are serious about having a VPN that works with Netflix, start with the entries in our roundup of VPN providers that worked with Netflix at the time of our final testing. It is crucial to keep in mind that a VPN that fits with Netflix today might be blocked tomorrow. Other considerations such as security practices, value, and efficiency should all be considered when selecting a VPN.
Netflix: What’s Next?
Netflix has a wide variety of quirky and high-quality TV shows, cult hits, family favorites, and original programming. It also includes offline downloads for mobile devices, ad-free streams in tiers, and practical functionality, including Smart Downloads. However, the cost has steadily increased over time, and the introduction of high-quality subscription options with slightly reduced subscription fees means it is no longer a decent deal. Despite its great original content and vast library, we also hand it an Editors’ Choice award for on-demand video streaming. Try Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV if you are looking for a genuine cable alternative.
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