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I have had several people ask me about Netflix – what it is, what it does, what it costs – so I thought I would tell you about my experiences with it. I have been a member for several years now, and I have referred several people to the service – here are my thoughts about Netflix.

What is Netflix?

Netflix is a subscription service for watching movies and TV series. It has two parts: the DVD mail service (where you pick DVDs you would like to watch and Netflix mails them to you) and the instant streaming service (where you use your high speed internet connection to stream movies instantly to your TV, computer or Netflix enabled device.)

Netflix used to be available only in the United States, but they have recently expanded to include some other countries in Europe and the Americas as well.

Netflix is also on track to begin creating their own shows, which will then only be available to watch on Netflix, of course.

How does Netflix work?

DVD service:

The DVD rental service was the original business model for Netflix, and although they are really pushing the instant streaming service now the DVD service is still a viable option.

Here’s how it works: after becoming a member you browse through or search Netflix’s web site for DVDs you want to watch. In my experience they have pretty much any DVD you want, although once in a long while something I want to see is not available for some reason. Anyway, once you find a DVD you want you click to “add it to your queue” – which means you put it on your DVD list. Then Netflix mails a DVD to you, starting with the one at the top of your list, you watch it and then return it in the pre-paid envelope and then they send you the next DVD on your list. Easy huh?

They have different plans, which cost different amounts and which will let you have 1, 2, 3 or more DVDs out (i.e. at your home) at one time. I use the 2-at-a-time plan and have had good luck with their turn-around time. Usually I get a new DVD 2 days after mailing back the previous one.

There are a few things about Netflix’s DVD service that I really like. First, they have a huge selection of shows to watch – I have found about 98% of everything I have ever looked for! Second, for one flat monthly price I can rent as many movies as I can watch. Third, I don’t have to go anywhere to get the movies – they come right to my home in the mail. And finally, I have saved boat loads of money by NOT buying DVDs (especially TV series) but renting them through Netflix instead.

Instant streaming service:

Ok, so this is Netflix’s other service and the one that they are pushing really hard. This is separate from the DVD service, and has an additional cost if you use it – right now that is an extra $8 a month. With this service you find a movie you want to watch and click to watch it instantly. The movie begins to stream to your device and you can watch it right away.

This is a very convenient feature to have, and overall I enjoy it and use it immensely. There are a few things to note about the instant streaming service however. First, the selection of shows which can be watched via instant streaming is much smaller than the selection of shows available on DVD. There are still plenty of movies and TV series to watch, and the list is getting bigger all the time, but just be aware that the list doesn’t include everything.

Second, the quality of this service depends heavily on your high-speed internet connection. The better and faster your connection the better quality your streaming movie will be. Don’t even try watching a movie if you have a slow or choppy connection – you will die of frustration! I currently have a 1.5 Mbps connection and it streams movies pretty well. Sometimes I see pixilation, but it’s not too bad.

Third, the list of available shows to watch via instant streaming changes often. I guess it has to do with contracts with the movie and TV studios, but often a show will only be available until the end of the month. It then goes away, and may or may not be available again in the future. That is annoying, but still livable given how convenient the service is.

Which Devices Work with Netflix?

Well, if you are using the DVD service you obviously need a DVD player and TV or computer to watch them. As for the instant streaming service there are many devices which will work. For example, you can watch instant Netflix shows on your computer, as long as you have Windows or Mac OS.

There are also apps for Apple mobile devices and Android devices. You can use your game console to stream movies to your TV – this includes Xbox, PlayStation and Wii.

There are several brands of newer TVs that have Netflix streaming built right in – we just got an LG TV and love it! Anyway, there are other devices which will work too, if you are wondering about yours you can consult Netflix’s web site or do an internet search for it.

How Much does Netflix Cost?

This has changed a little bit over the years, but here are the current prices (as of March 8, 2012) for the USA:

  • Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) = $7.99 a month
  • 1 DVD out at-a-time (no streaming) = $7.99 a month
  • 2 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $11.99 a month
  • 3 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $15.99 a month
  • 4 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $21.99 a month
  • 5 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $27.99 a month
  • 6 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $32.99 a month
  • 7 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $37.99 a month
  • 8 DVDs out at-a-time (no streaming) = $43.99 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 1 DVD out at-a-time = $15.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 2 DVDs out at-a-time = $19.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 3 DVDs out at-a-time = $23.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 4 DVDs out at-a-time = $29.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 5 DVDs out at-a-time = $35.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 6 DVDs out at-a-time = $40.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 7 DVDs out at-a-time = $45.98 a month
  • Unlimited Streaming + 8 DVDs out at-a-time = $51.98 a month
  • Limited Plan: 1 DVD out at-a-time (limit 2 rentals a month) = $4.99 a month

Try Netflix Free for 1 Month!

So, if this sounds like something you might be interested in you can try Netflix free for a month. You’ll need to create an account and provide a credit card (which won’t be charged for your first month) – but you’ll have to remember to cancel your membership if you don’t want to be charged in the future.

Looking for some Good Movies to Watch on Netflix?

Netflix makes it pretty easy to find good movies to watch – either by searching for them or through the themed browsing pages. But don’t forget that CinsMovieReviews.com also provides lists and reviews of movies available on Netflix!

Okay, so good luck. Enjoy your Netflix watching!