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Dec 17, 2008

ALL HAIL NETFLIX

I have been a big fan and firm believer in the Netflix service ever since they opened their "doors." Not only are they fast and reliable, but they have the best selection of films anywhere and now they have branched into Blu-Ray, online Video-on-demand streaming as well as allowing their service to be accessed through the X-Box live marketplace and I believe, a specially branded Blu-Ray player from Samsung (Please correct me if I'm mistaken about the last option). All this combined makes Netflix the best online movie watching service in existence.

Living in California, I find that I'll send in a disc today, they'll have it tomorrow and will have already shipped my next title which I receive the day after -- a 2 day turnaround. Even then, if I can't get to watching it right away, I can hold onto the disc as long as I need to. Although, that doesn't really get you the most bang for your buck, but it does help those people who always ends up paying late fees (a group I do not belong to).

I was a member of Netflix for many years and only stopped because the service does not extend into Canada where I was temporarily relocated to. Canada has a similar service called Zip.ca that made me appreciate the genius of Netflix even more. Not only did the Zip turnaround for discs take almost a full week (Canadian postal services are terrible), but you can only highlight the next 1 or 2 titles you'd like to receive -- and they randomly send whatever titles in your list if those selections don't happen to be available. The Netflix queue allows you to rank your top 500 titles, and goes down the list, so you can pretty much know what you're going to get without having to constantly log in and adjust things. Not to mention, the Canadian service was twice the monthly subscription fee. Nice try Canada...but better luck next time.

Now that I'm back in the United States, one of the first things I did was to of course re-activate my account and have found that after 5 years away, the service is bigger and better than ever.

The other night I had the opportunity to try out Netflix's online streaming service labelled as "instant". Going through the titles, I was surprised at how many "instant" selections were available. Everything from new releases, TV and catalog classics. The quality was near DVD, although there were some glitches caused mainly due to connection issues (which still leads me to believe the true online distribution while although close, is still nowhere near taking over from DVD).

Of course with Netflix, you can't download the titles to be played later on a device such as your laptop or an iPod, all titles must be watched via "streaming" so it limits the access let's say if you're traveling on an airplane. But I have to say I found the service very helpful in accessing titles I needed to look at immediately for some of the work I am currently doing, whether it be an article or paper.

I have been kind of reluctant to dive into online digital delivery (not to the concept mind you, I just prefer discs and hate when the viewing pauses thanks to a connection glitch or Internet failure), but Netflix's new service (which isn't that new anymore really) has started to win me over into an online distribution believer.

I'm interested in seeing how the quality is on selections that are available via the X-Box marketplace -- once I get my X-Box 360 out of storage that is.