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Author Topic: Opinions on Netflix?  (Read 9440 times)
J-Mac
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« on: August 27, 2008, 10:52:34 PM »

I have never used a service like Netflix, but I am considering subscribing to their top plan - which is now only $16.99 it appears - and also possibly picking up one of the "Netflix players" sold by Roku.  The Roku device is a relatively small box that you can use to queue movies and TV shows and watch on your TV - no DVD involved. Kind of a Netflix "On-Demand" service.

I personally never liked the thought of having DVDs mailed to me, watching them, and then having to mail them back in order to receive more in the mail. In this day and age of digital downloads - and me with an extremely fast cable connection - I always figured that I would prefer to use a download service instead. Unfortunately only a few have appeared in the marketplace and most have gone out of business recently. I don't know if that is due to pressure from industry groups like the MPAA or just that the market was not enough to support this kind of service.

Either way, I am really tired of putting up with Comcast and would love to drop most of their services - keeping only the internet connection - and use other services for my viewing pleasure. Though DVR's have been available for a number of years there are really very few options to using DVRs for time-shifting TV shows and/or movies. The Motorola DVRs that Comcast rents out are horrible - I have had several in the three years they have been available and I'm really tired of the problems with them. They were supposed to offer Tivo service a couple of years ago but that never came to pass officially in my area. Actually you can hook up a Tivo with a special card inserted in the Comcast DVR, but Comcast will not do it here and technically you are not allowed to do it on your own. Plus if you do install a Tivo card you lose the capability to watch On-Demand programming. Standalone DVRs are nice - just can't use them with the cable TV service.

I own a couple hundred DVD movies, but there are a lot I would enjoy watching - or watching again - but not enough to purchase the DVD. So enter Netflix.  And their new "Watch immediately on your TV" service sounds inviting. But I cannot find out on their site just how much programming they truly have available for "immediate viewing".  Anyone know how current and extensive the TV show availability is?  Other comments - good or bad - on Netflix service?  Is it worth joining?  Worth purchasing the Roku device?

BTW, I have checked out the Amazon Unbox service and the selection and pricing seem OK, but the software and its Terms and Conditions are much too intrusive for me. Just the fact that it requires that you allow it to run all the time - and it is connected and communicating home all the time - is bad enough for me. Add to that the fact that if a license grantor decides to pull its movie/show they can yank it back without permission, they can download advertisements to your computer without specific permission, and many more "offenses", IMO. They control what device you can watch the movies/TV shows on, when you can view it, etc.  Just a bit of DRM gone wild, it seems. So that is out for me unless they change terms drastically.

Thanks for any opinions.

Jim
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y0himba
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2008, 01:16:00 AM »

I have had no problems.  We have been using the service for 6 months now.  We have the 3 at a time plan, and it's perfect. We have received 2 damaged DVDs in that time, they were both replaced within 2 days.  I also use the streaming service "Watch Instantly", which I stream to my 52 inch HDTV.  The quality is amazing, DVD or better, and the sound is perfect.

I love it and recommend it. Thmbsup Thmbsup
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J-Mac
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2008, 02:19:47 AM »

Sounds good!  Is the selection of TV shows and movies for instant viewing good?  Current shows?

Thanks!

Jim
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SKesselman
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2008, 02:26:30 AM »

Jim,

Try this http://www.movielink.com/.
I don't know how it works, past this:
Last week, I downloaded the service and a movie for $3. I have a month from that date to watch it.
However, once I press 'play', I have 24 hours to watch it.

I've seen no ads or odd behavior on my pc since.
[Edit 12/2008: Blockbuster service since sold out, app would not uninstall]

I don't think it's running in the background, but you'll have to see for yourself.
(Not understanding what runs in the background or why, I have no interest in this until it gets in my way.)


I didn't read the terms. If I did, I'd have no services at all, I'm sure of this Wink

Anyway,
good luck smiley
« Last Edit: December 21, 2008, 09:04:09 PM by SKesselman » Logged

-Sarah
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2008, 07:14:21 AM »

netflix is surprisingly good.  give it a try, you can always cancel easily.
some things that might not be obvious:
netflix has a pretty big collection of movies that you can watch online/stream once you subscribe to their non-lowest-level subscription.  i found myself using that as much as the mail dvds.
the queueing system of netflix is fun and makes it easy to find and save movies you want to watch.
you can easily "pause" your subscription for a few months which is nice when you dont have anything you want to rent.
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zridling
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2008, 07:44:19 AM »

J-mac, the calculator says that the 3 movies at a time plan is your best value, and here's why. Get AnyDVD and CloneDVD and just copy the movies to your HD or to a disc, then watch them at your leisure. I've done that for years and now have over 1400 movies, series, documentaries, fantastic foreign films, Trailer Park Boys, music, all kinds of things I would have never watched, given the time. I have not, however, tried watching a film online.

I've never had a problem with Netflix. Some weeks their delivery seems slow, but then they make up for it the next couple of weeks. And as mouser mentioned, one of its coolest features is that Netflix allows you to suspend your account for up to 3 months each year. During this time of year, I don't have the time to watch movies, so I put my account on hold. I can still add movies to my queue and so on, but I'm not being charged during that time. Pretty cool.
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TheQwerty
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2008, 09:24:30 AM »

Warning.... Long Post Ahead.... Turn back now or face the consequences....  embarassed

I've been a Netflix 3-out subscriber for the last 7 years, and recently purchased the Roku Netflix Player.

Their DVD service has been fantastic.  There's been very few movies I couldn't find, and only one of those was available through Blockbuster online.

I've tracked my rentals since 2001 in a spreadsheet, but unfortunately I'm at work and haven't synced it in two months, so this data comes from 481 DVDs I've rented as of the end of June and misses their recent problems., so this data comes from 491 DVDs.

On average I receive DVDs in 1.10 days and they are returned in 1.34 1.36 days.
The most DVDs I've received in a single month was 20, but my mean is 9.87 5.42.  ( huh I have no idea where I got 9.87.)

9 DVDs were lost or broken en route.
1 disappeared on return, was declared missing after 5 days, and then miraculously appeared at Netflix ~100 days later.
1 skipped so badly it was unplayable, but others have had skips that I endured.

I've only needed to contact support three times.  Twice because I accidentally sent them a disc from my collection; they say there's no way for them to catch this and send my disc back, but both times they did return them.  Once was because of a problem with my credit card.  All three times things went smoothly and the CSR was nice.

The recent problems they've had which stopped all shipments for nearly a week, was unfortunate and I hope they're going to put changes in place to prevent it in the future, but I think they handled it well and the 15% credit seems fair.  It's always nice when a company automatically credits you for their mistakes instead of only doing so when you complain (I'm glaring at you Comcast!  Angry).

It does annoy me that their distribution centers are not open on Saturdays, so there's no reason to return a disc on Friday, but I'm sure there would be a significant price increase if they were.

I've never had trouble getting new releases; if there's something I really want coming out on Tuesday I try to ensure they receive a disc on Monday.  On a couple occasions I've even received discs before they're officially available.


Their website does leave me a tad wanting.  It works well, but I'd like to see more data about the titles (writers for instance) and a more comprehensive search.  As it is I tend to use IMDB to browse films and then search for the title on Netflix.  The normal site doesn't work well on mobile browsers, and their mobile site is too mobilized; search is restricted by film title and you can't access the Watch Instantly queue.  Also, although it's gotten better, I still feel the site's load time could be improved.


So overall, I highly recommend their DVD service.


As for the Roku player and their Watch Instantly...  Well the selection is disappointing.  I'm sure this will improve but don't get your hopes up that you'll see many new blockbusters.  It's a lot of B (or worse)-movies and a selection of TV series.  It is nice though that they had some of the current NBC shows right after they first aired (like season 2 of Heroes).  The quality through the website is pretty good, on the Roku player it's surprisingly similar to DVD.

The Roku is a nice box, but there are some issues that sometimes make me regret the decision and keep me from buying another.

First, Netflix is trying to get this service spread through other vendors (XBox360, LG Blu-ray players), which makes that $99 seem a bit high.  If there were other content available on the box (which is a future possibility) it might be easier to swallow.  I just keep hoping Netflix will be available on TiVo.

Second, you can't browse the entire selection of titles on the TV.  You have to add them to your Watch Instantly queue on a computer and then you can browse the queue on the Roku.  It's annoying that you're still tied to a computer for all of this.

Third, they need to use their buffer more wisely with regards to Rewind/Fast-Forward.  Since it's a stream I appreciate the difficulty of this, but they need to at least allow you to easily navigate what is buffered.  As it is now, you enter RW/FF mode, which stops playback and moves through single frames of the movie.  When you resume it does the whole buffering thing again before playing starts.  I really miss that 10-second jump back that TiVo has.

Forth, they need a broader view of the queue for quicker navigation.  Currently, you browse the queue either from a line of the movie posters with a few details or in a detail view of each item that shows only one film at a time.  This combined with the second point, means I add a ton of movies to my queue just so I can browse them on the Roku, and then have to navigate past things I'm not all that interested in.  A nice table view with smaller or no covers would greatly help here.


That said, I'm generally happy with the box, but I think I should have waited to see what other partnerships they may reveal.  Though it has been successful at reinvigorating the cheap awful horror film lover in me.  Wink

EDIT: Updated stats with more recent figures.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2008, 07:59:04 PM by TheQwerty » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2008, 10:23:04 AM »

Great and balanced report Qwerty  thumbs up
Agree with almost all of what you say.
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J-Mac
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2008, 11:20:08 AM »

Wow - what a phenomenal review, TheQwerty!  When I posted this request I was hoping that I would get information like this, but to be honest I expected to get it in a lot of little pieces; a comment here, a comment there.

But your review is a piece that belongs in a magazine column.  Truly excellent! Informative, helpful.  I can't even think of a follow-up question to ask.  I believe that you have covered everything I wanted to know!  Amazingly thorough!

Thank you, TheQwerty.

Jim
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J-Mac
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2008, 11:28:37 AM »

Sarah, Jesse:  Thanks for the comments, folks!  Looks like it's definitely worth the price of admission.  I know that their plans can be easily canceled if you are not satisfied, but I figured I would solicit comments here and if all or most were negative, then I could save myself the time and aggravation of subscribing and canceling. But all comments are positive so far.

Plus I had read about their problems a month or so ago and how they immediately notified members, apologized for the inconvenience, and offered a 15% credit for any aggravation members had suffered.  That had to cost a pretty penny and I was impressed by their handling of that situation.  And, no: Comcast does not quite handle their "oopses" in a manner that even remotely resembles that!

Thanks again, everyone!  (What a great "club" this is here at DC!)

Jim
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J-Mac
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2008, 11:29:49 AM »

Great and balanced report Qwerty  thumbs up
Agree with almost all of what you say.

Quite deserving of some Credits!  Cool

And maybe a relocation of that post to the Mini-Review section?

Jim
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2008, 04:39:00 PM »

TheQwerty, I hope you've shared your data and results with Netflix! They'd appreciate such detailed feedback.
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TheQwerty
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2008, 08:15:19 PM »

I'm glad you found that helpful, but I was just trying to avoid working today.  tongue

TheQwerty, I hope you've shared your data and results with Netflix! They'd appreciate such detailed feedback.
They did send a survey out to get my opinion on the Roku, and I believe I made most of the same comments then.  Though, I have been meaning to contact them again to let them now how much I appreciate the way they handled themselves with the outage, and that would be a good opportunity to make suggestions again.


Now that I'm home, I've updated the stats, and am trying to figure out where I got 9.87 from.   embarassed


One other small issue: without the due dates, and because the monthly charge becomes a bit transparent (like most subscription services), you tend to forget that the DVD that is collecting dust near the player because you just haven't been in the mood to watch it, is wasting away your monies and could be wanted by others.  Newsweek has dubbed this Netflix Guilt.  I really ought to watch American Gangster this weekend.
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J-Mac
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2008, 10:45:37 PM »

J-mac, the calculator says that the 3 movies at a time plan is your best value, and here's why. Get AnyDVD and CloneDVD and just copy the movies to your HD or to a disc, then watch them at your leisure. I've done that for years and now have over 1400 movies, series, documentaries, fantastic foreign films, Trailer Park Boys, music, all kinds of things I would have never watched, given the time. I have not, however, tried watching a film online.

I've never had a problem with Netflix. Some weeks their delivery seems slow, but then they make up for it the next couple of weeks. And as mouser mentioned, one of its coolest features is that Netflix allows you to suspend your account for up to 3 months each year. During this time of year, I don't have the time to watch movies, so I put my account on hold. I can still add movies to my queue and so on, but I'm not being charged during that time. Pretty cool.

Zaine,

I don't know how I missed your post - and you have me laughing here! 1400?!? Wow - that's a LOT. You must have more time on your hands than me - and I have a lot, stuck at home forever now.

As for AnyDVD and CloneDVD, I have had both since shortly after they were initially released; 2002 or 2003, I think. I actually haven't copied many rental DVDs or anything, but I do copy all of my own DVDs and CDs. Lost more than a few in DVD players gone bad and that will never happen again!

Your plan does sound interesting, though, especially since Netflix allows you to keep DVDs as long as you want, so you're not really doing much different there.

I'd love to place all DVDs on my hard drive, but up to now all I can do with the ones on my HDD is either burn them later or watch them on the computer. I have been looking for a decent way to be able to stream DVDs from my network to our TVs, but there are so few devices that can do that, none are inexpensive at all - quite the contrary, and the streaming part is at best unreliable and not very high in quality, from all that I have read. If anyone has found a good way to do this, I'd appreciate some advice!

Thanks for the assist!

Jim
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2008, 11:30:52 PM »

I used the Netflix trial for a month and was planning continue my subscription but I moved back to my hometown rather suddenly and am currently living with my parents, who already have Netflix, while I'm on the waiting list for apartments near the university here.

You should be warned that our productivity nearly dropped to zero during our trial period because we were getting so many movies and we were able to watch a lot of streaming movies. The selection of Watch Now isn't that great but if you're someone who doesn't often go to the cinema or rent a lot of movies (or watch TV) like I am then you probably have a lot of "catching up" to do. Also, my wife is a foreigner and hasn't grown up with all the movies I've seen throughout my life and loved, so most of the movies older than just a few years she's never seen.

Anyway, like I said, we were watching so many movies and TV shows that we didn't accomplish much during our trial period. My biggest complaints about the Netflix service have to do with the website, but perhaps I should mention that I don't have any method of streaming the videos to my TV so I can't share any opinion regarding that.

My biggest complaint about the service is that there was no way for me to say "Never show me a movie of this kind." In other words, I wish there were better filters for browsing through the available titles. For example, there was no way to completely remove the gay and lesbian films from the selection, or filter out movies based on their rating (my wife and I don't watch movies that are rated R). The lack of these filters or "parental controls" is very peculiar, considering almost any device these days that plays video (including TVs themselves!) have parental controls to block or filter what is shown based on content such as violence, language, sexual content, rating, etc.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2008, 11:54:59 PM »

Thanks for that post, Deozaan.

That IS surprising. I would think that it would be a benefit for them to offer such filtering. Have you ever let them know your feelings on this?

Jim
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Deozaan
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2008, 12:33:35 AM »

My other complaint (I guess) is that in order for them to recommend other movies to you, they ask you to rate a bunch of movies you've seen. Well the obvious problem for anyone actually using the service is that we would get some movies that my wife would love and I would hate, or vice versa, but they apparently didn't take into account the idea that multiple people in the same household might have different opinions, so you can only rate the movie one way for the entire account. Naturally my wife would rate movies she loved with 5 stars and then it would recommend many similar titles that I had no interest in at all. :-(

I suppose this falls into the same category of not enough filtering options for what I want.

That IS surprising. I would think that it would be a benefit for them to offer such filtering. Have you ever let them know your feelings on this?

No, I didn't send them any feedback, since I only had it during the trial period.

I'd also like to make clear, if I didn't from my first post, that I liked the service. I agree with what most people have said about the options I've used (Instant Watch on a PC or movies by mail). The turn-around time is very quick, usually only two business days from when I return a movie to when I get the next one in the queue. They were all in good condition and I only had to clean one or two of them to reduce skipping problems.

If they would improve the filtering options on the website, it would be an outstanding service in my opinion.
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2008, 01:47:20 AM »

My other complaint (I guess) is that in order for them to recommend other movies to you, they ask you to rate a bunch of movies you've seen. Well the obvious problem for anyone actually using the service is that we would get some movies that my wife would love and I would hate, or vice versa, but they apparently didn't take into account the idea that multiple people in the same household might have different opinions, so you can only rate the movie one way for the entire account. Naturally my wife would rate movies she loved with 5 stars and then it would recommend many similar titles that I had no interest in at all. :-(

Shouldn't be a problem - just hack her email account and trap all Netflix messages - forward them to yourself!   Grin Grin Grin

(Of course even as I write this I am peeking in the "Behind Me" parabolic mirror over my desk to make sure that MY exceedingly lovely, brilliant, and most benevolent wife is not peeking over my shoulder!!  (Emphasis added 'cause that's all she can hopefully see from way back there...  hehehe  OOPS, Bye!)   rip   Cool
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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2008, 11:13:17 AM »

i used Netflix for about a year and enjoyed the service. The only complaint I had is that the children's movies were often unplayable which was frustrating. I remember it took three tries (and over 2 weeks) to get a playable version of one movie for my kids, and after that we just rented kids movies from the local video store.

With all the downloads you can get in addition to the physical copies it's definitely something I'd do again if I were getting rid of cable. One of my close friends is doing that now and really enjoys it.
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« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2008, 10:13:27 PM »

My other complaint (I guess) is that in order for them to recommend other movies to you, they ask you to rate a bunch of movies you've seen. Well the obvious problem for anyone actually using the service is that we would get some movies that my wife would love and I would hate, or vice versa, but they apparently didn't take into account the idea that multiple people in the same household might have different opinions, so you can only rate the movie one way for the entire account. Naturally my wife would rate movies she loved with 5 stars and then it would recommend many similar titles that I had no interest in at all. :-(
Have you tried using separate profiles (Your Account->Account Profiles)?  It should allow you and your wife to each have your own queue and ability to rate/review movies independently.

Of course if you're on an odd-number out plan this could just start an argument over who gets more DVDs from their queue.  Which may be part of Netflix's master plan!  ohmy
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« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2008, 10:24:53 PM »

OK, OK...  How could I not be convinced with these recommendations? I signed up last night and am now waiting for my first shipment. The only bad part is that enrolling on a Friday evening and with a holiday weekend - Labor Day is a holiday for most, including Netflix, here in the US - means that they won't ship until Tuesday. So Wednesday is the soonest I can expect my initial DVDs; Thursday is probably more likely.

And since the first two weeks are technically the "Trial Period" (No way I found to directly subscribe without going through the "Trial"), I imagine that Netflix tries to ensure that the top three DVDs in our queue are available. I remember reading about two years ago that if a subscriber is getting more than a certain limit of DVDs monthly that they consider high usage, they stop sending them their top selections, instead reserving those for the less frequent users. I actually do understand that policy, though that's not to say it is necessarily correct.

Anyway, thanks for all the excellent and comments!

Jim
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« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2008, 05:08:11 PM »

Have you tried using separate profiles (Your Account->Account Profiles)?  It should allow you and your wife to each have your own queue and ability to rate/review movies independently.

Of course if you're on an odd-number out plan this could just start an argument over who gets more DVDs from their queue.  Which may be part of Netflix's master plan!  ohmy

No, I didn't know about that option. How does it decide who's queue to send the next movie from?
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« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2008, 12:39:53 PM »

No, I didn't know about that option. How does it decide who's queue to send the next movie from?
Well I'm not actually using the feature so this is only my guess, but I believe you split up your allotted DVD slots across each profile and at any given point in time they try to ensure that what you have at home is distributed accordingly.

So if you are on 3-out, you could create separate profiles for your wife, yourself, and continue to use the owner profile for things you both want to see.  Assign 1 DVD to each profile, and there should always be a DVD from each of the queues at home.

I would hope that it prevents having duplicates at home and that it would send more DVDs from a different queue if one was empty, but I'm not sure.


Netflix was planning on removing this feature for pretty vague reasons but the outburst from vocal users convinced them otherwise.  As a result, I imagine it will get an overhaul in the near-ish future to address some of their reasons, and it might be a good time to try it and offer feedback.
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2008, 10:38:59 PM »

wasting away your monies and could be wanted by others.  Newsweek has dubbed this Netflix Guilt.  I really ought to watch American Gangster this weekend.

Ah - so that's what it's called.  :-)

I just ordered the Roku a few weeks back; it was dead simple to install and activate.  The selection of watch instantly is not great but I still managed to put 187 movies and and a few tv series in (we like classics, which helps).  I bought the player because my husband gripes that I hog the dvd queue.

I know the Roku people have gotten some bad hardware reviews but I have an older, slower wireless router and it worked pretty well in spite of that.  Way better than the built-in wireless in my Dell laptop for sure (which barely works at all, off-topic I know but just needed to vent).   

I think the worst genre is for kids, especially pre-schoolers - the watch instantly selections are abysmal.  But then my Tivo is full of Jimmy Neutron, Fairly Odd-Parents and Yo Gabba Gabba, so it all evens out. 

Terry (lurker and long-time Netflix fan)   
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« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2008, 02:44:59 AM »

Thanks Terry!

I signed up for Netflix a few days ago, and I just now ordered the Roku Netflix Player, after reading your post.

Jim
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