Yesterday, the Australian version of Netflix became available and I was surprised to see that the service was up and running at midnight rather than an early morning release like most things that are US based, but it seemed these guys actually wanted to go by our time for once.
Before I get into my experiences with the service thus far, we should outline the plans, cost and account options.
There are three plans outlined above. The first allows you to watch content on one screen for $8.99AUD/month, the second allows you to watch two streams at a time with HD content supported for $11.99AUD/month, and the third plan allows you to watch up to four streams at a time with both HD and Ultra HD content supported for $14.99AUD/month.
So far, so good. The other streaming providers offer the same amount of devices to be connected and stream content simultaneously with up to four devices, both Stan and Presto. So let’s take a closer look at the account options to see if we can find something that is different to the rest, shall we?
Here’s what the “My Account” section will look like above. Now, it does seem to cover a vast improvement in terms of what Stan and Presto have to offer. Let’s start by taking a look at the payment methods.
I chose the Paypal option simply due to not being able to have that option with the other services, yet I noticed that even if I do pay via Paypal, it doesn’t mention which account the money will come from (the credit card on my account or debt card, no indication to tell me which would be selected). This could be an issue, unless it’s outlined somewhere else they need to provide information that’ll allow the user to select which account they’d like the money taken out of or allow us to add a bank, etc. So it’s a little strange how they don’t allow this, seeing as most services or payments made via Paypal does allow that option?
There are also parental controls for those that wish to set this all you need to do is create a four digit password. It does seem kind of odd though because you need to sign in as the adult account and switch to the children’s profile in order for this to take effect. Not that that’s an issue, but does it work? I have no idea. I don’t want to ruin it since I just got the service working, but I’ll add onto this section if I test it at some point.
The test participation section seems a little odd as well. I’d like to know how they would let us know (maybe via email, I don’t know) what they’re testing and when or essentially what this would actually be testing ie new features or upcoming movies or TV shows?
I’m not sure if the activate device feature works because I have now used Netflix on two devices, my PC, and a Samsung Galaxy S4, yet I’ve never asked to activate either of my devices for use with the service. I have no idea what’s up with that or why it is even in here as an option?
They have a selection of ten currently supported languages: Dansk, Deutsch, English, Español, Français, Nederlands, Norsk bokmål, Português, Suomi and Svenska. However, it does state “Not all TV shows and movies are available in all languages”.
The playback settings is a feature both Stan and Presto do not currently offer. Auto is selected by default, which will dynamically change the quality of the content based around your internet connection, this is something that annoyed me with the other services so I’d prefer a set quality, but the set quality would only matter if it actually prefers that setting over dynamically changing.
None of the quality settings provide a base resolution for each. Low is basic quality with up to 0.3GB (300MB) per hour well what resolution is basic quality because that is the typical file size for ~576i quality video based on an hour of content. Medium is standard definition with up to 0.7GB (700MB) per hour which is slightly more than a typical movie at standard definition. High is both HD and Ultra HD quality rather than having them both a separate option but yeah ok Netflix, this will use up to 3GB per hour for HD again no resolution so it could be 720p or 1080p and up to 7GB per hour for Ultra HD which was presumed to be 4k content.
I can’t understand what’s so hard about giving us both a resolution and file size for their content, neither Presto or Stan have it either. WHY IS THIS SO HARD? Without determining the difference between low, medium and high via a resolution it makes it quite difficult to tell what resolution you are streaming at if set to auto.
I’d also like to mention that, regardless of the quality you set within the account settings, the streaming system that Netflix uses will not prioritize the set quality. Well, at least not while watching Terra Nova.
So I’ve noticed issues while streaming Terra Nova via PC (using Chrome browser) and that’s the playback appears to either stutter or play with missing frames which causes the video to look like it is skipping. Apparently this is an ongoing issue with other Netflix users (i.e. US users as well) because I mentioned my troubles to an American friend of mine and they tried watching Terra Nova as well, but the issue was still present for them. If any of you have a Netflix subscription, could you also confirm or deny that Terra Nova has playback issues? If not, I may have to report it.
I also find it difficult to understand why the service can’t just prioritize a specific resolution/quality setting rather than dynamically switching between quality like Presto, this proved to be annoying when watching movies or tv shows. Without knowing the actual resolution or having an HD enabled button it is hard to know when the service will use HD over standard or if they are using basic quality settings.
A few UI alterations would be nice to see, I understand that competition plays a part here. However, what’s so hard about being the first of the four main supported streaming services to add a resolution, or adding support to choose the streamed content’s quality prior to watching? You have to enable a preference via the account menu, this seems quite backwards as it’s under account settings rather than having its own options menu or setting within each movie or tv show.
For me, the content’s decent, but there are a few noticeable differences between Stan, Presto and now Netflix with TV Shows such as The Good Wife and Californication, just to name a few that are not present for the Australian Netflix catelogue yet the others provide some seasons.
So far, if I had to pick a service and stick to it, I’d have to say I’d use Stan ONLY because of the HD option actually works and prioritizes that selection whereas the others, thus far, do not.
Let me know how your experience is with Netflix in your region and if you’re experiencing the same issues or differences as me.