I was initially going to add Netflix to my paid app recommendations. But since it’s not technically a paid app, but instead requires a monthly subscription to use, I thought it was worth it’s own article.
When we moved our home broadband provider over to TalkTalk, we discovered that there was an option to have a 12 month free subscription to Lovefilm. Great! That sounded good. I’d heard good things about Lovefilm but had never really tried though through lack of time, money and enthusiasm. But who can turn down free things? I gave them a spin for a while, but soon made my way through the ‘good’ films and was stuck in a rut. I then contemplated the possibility of mobile streaming. I had a phablet and an hour to kill on the train every day, so streaming films and TV shows seemed like a logical step forward. But Lovefilm, in their infinite wisdom, had decided not to make a streaming app for mobile devices. There was one for iPads, but not Android. Boo! Down with them.
Then I discovered that Netflix did do a streaming system. So I thought I’d give it a go. I was not disappointed.
Initial impression was a mild of disappointment in the utter lack of ‘pre-loading’ options that I’d so enjoyed when renting films on Google Play but otherwise a good selection of content with plenty of viewing options.
There’s not much to say about the Netflix app, especially if you’re already familiar with Netflix in general. You login, you watch films and other content, you rate and get recommendations for the future. It works on both mobiles and tablet devices and over mobile data connections or WiFi. Obviously it goes without saying that if you have a limited data plan then streaming Netflix is probably a bad plan, but if you have unlimited data (as I do) then it’s great.
£5.99 a month is a perfectly reasonable price for what you’re getting. Think about it, you could easily spend that much on one film alone – rental or purchase. Yes, you can’t get the latest content on Netflix, nor indeed can you get ALL the films that were ever made, but the catalogue is pretty comprehensive and enjoyable and with the VPN trickery below you can get access to even more content.
If you’re an Android fan, then you might well have rooted your phone. If you’ve done that then you’ll probably be aware of the issues with streaming content. Many of the traditional catch-up or streaming app like BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, etc, etc will refuse to work on rooted devices for security reasons. Not Netflix. No, Netflix theoretically works just fine on rooted devices and they appear to be happy for it to do so. Which is yet another tick in their favour.
However, if you’re lucky enough to be running Cyanogenmod or a Cyanogenmod-based rom then you might have come across problems streaming. Usually this problem mostly occurs on Samsung devices and doesn’t result in any error or warning messages but instead just makes the app looking like it’s constantly loading the film or show you’re trying to stream – quite annoying!
Fear not, there is a nice workaround. The XDA Developers Forum has a neat little Xposed Framework Module that will get it working without issues. You just need to make sure you have the Xposed Framework installed and the module loaded up and active.
Foreign Content – Unblock-Us
If you live in the UK, one of the grumps around Netflix has always been the small (some would say ‘poor’) catalogue of content compared to the Lovefilm or to the American version of Netflix. The good news is, there’s help at hand here too. For a small monthly fee (or nothing if you’re less scrupulous) you can use a great service to tweak your DNS settings to allow you to access any Netflix content for any Country around the world. This means that you can get the American, Australian, Canadian or even French Netflix and get access to an entirely different range of content.
The American Netflix obviously has more up-to-date films and the latest episodes of their TV shows, which is appealing in itself. But you can also jump between Countries to make the most of the content both in and outside of your own Country.
Setting up is easy and you can just change the DNS settings on your device (to be specific to just that machine) or to your router to give access to your entirely household.
Questions around the legality (or breach of terms of service) are left upto you to find out; but it is a good service for just $4.99 a month (around £3). Check out http://www.unblock-us.com/ for a free trial and decide for yourself.