Is Netflix Worth It Anymore?

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber from damn near day one.

I’ve certainly appreciated having the service there as an entertainment alternative long before video streaming was a remote possibility. I’d have three DVDs out at a time and often forget I was holding onto them for months on end. You could say that I’ve wasted a lot of money on Netflix – far more than I would have spent at a local video rental store.

So, last year, I decided to drop the 3-disc option and go with the 1-disc plan plus the on-demand streaming – even though the streaming selection was seemingly stunted (though nowhere as bad as Hulu’s lackluster movie library). For the most part, that’s worked out well – but I still feel like I’m overpaying for media that I’m not remembering to digest.

This morning, news came down the pike (yes, pike – not pipe) that Netflix is staging new subscription plans for us. Yippee? Nope.

There are now 2 DVD-Only plans:

  • $8 a month for one disc at a time
  • $12 a month for two discs at a time

Now there’s a separate option:

  • Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $8 a month

They think that this change “is a terrific value.” I think it’s a load of shit. This is “forcing” me to drop their disc-only plan altogether (based on my patterns). When I want to rent a DVD, I’ll simply make an online reservation for my local Redbox station. I’d be tempted to drop the Netflix streaming plan if there were a viable alternative elsewhere – but judging by how many documentaries my girlfriend loves to watch, that’s not practical.

I guess at the end of the day, I’m going to be spending less money with Netflix (by $2). Thanks?

Giveaway of an Apple TV


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Streaming content into your home is more than just some passing fad. Thousands of people have already “cut the cable cord” in favor of set-top boxes such as the Apple TV. Using a device like this gives you more control over the content you are watching. It’s also cost effective – it will cost far less than traditional cable or satellite programming. The Apple TV is a fantastic device – and this one could be yours.

This tiny little black box (it’s just under 4″ square, sits about an inch high off the table and weighs just .6 ounces!) packs a lot of punch. Inside, you’ll find the A4 CPU, the same chip that powers the iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch. There’s a built-in 6-watt universal power supply and several ports: HDMI2, Optical Audio, Ethernet, IR receiver and a Micro-USB slot that Apple claims is for service and support.

It supports a slew of different formats. For video, you have:

  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats.
  • MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats.
  • Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.

Audio files supported include HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through. And for photos, you can browse anything ending with .JPEG, .GIF and .TIFF.

So what can you DO with an Apple TV? I’m so glad you asked! Turn your TV into an HD photo album. Listen to your extensive music collection. Browse and play YouTube videos, watch your favorite HD podcasts, and listen to Internet radio through your home entertainment speakers. Watch Netflix movies and television on the device in HD and with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound when available. Rent your favorite TV shows on the spot, commercial free and in HD for just 99¢ per episode as soon as the day after they are aired. And of course, with the Apple TV, you get instant access to all of the best movies – usually the same day they are released to DVD.

Are you drooling yet? Are you ready to win?! Anyone in the United States is eligible to enter. I apologize to those of you in other countries. International laws and restrictions prohibit us from running contests worldwide.

Jump over to your Twitter account and make sure you are following the Lockergnome account as well as the one for the Frugal Geek. Once you’re following both of us, send out a Tweet stating the following: LockerGnome is Giving Away an Apple TV http://bit.ly/fcyJRE @LockerGnome @FrugalGeek. The giveaway is open from now until April 15th. One winner will be chosen at random who meets all qualifications laid out in this paragraph.

Are you using a set-top box? Which one do you prefer – and why?

Netflix Knows the Fastest ISPs

When it comes to figuring out which ISP has the best Internet speeds, Netflix knows the numbers. The company is a great source for this type of information, considering their service helps users everywhere stream movies and television content right into their homes. “We find ourselves in the unique position,” wrote Ken Florance, director of content delivery at Netflix, “of having insight into the performance of hundreds of millions of long duration, high-definition video streams delivered over the Internet.”

When you check your own speeds via a service such as SpeedTest, you’re testing short bursts of activity. Netflix, though, is testing data at sustained transfer over time. “The throughput we are able to achieve with these streams can tell us a great deal about the actual capacity our subscribers are able to sustain to their homes. In the charts below, we’re using a time-weighted bitrate metric to represent the effective data throughput our subscribers receive over many of the top ISPs.”

Taking a look at the top sixteen Internet Service Providers (as listed by Netflix), one might be a tad surprised at the results. The chart clearly shows that Charter sustained the best overall results, with Comcast coming in a close second. Cox, Time-Warner and Cablevision round out the top five providers. At the bottom of the list, you’ll find ClearWire all by its lonesome. That isn’t very shocking.

Where does your ISP fall in this list?

Netflix is Changing the Game and No One is Happy

Netflix Director of Product Management Jamie O’Dell announced today that the company will no longer allow customers to add physical DVDs to their queue from streaming devices such as the PS3 and iPhone. The claim is that they are trying to “concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly.” The powers-that-be at Netflix apparently feel that “providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.”

The problem with this thought process is that many subscribers feel this is a huge step backwards. The desktop computer is becoming more obsolete in the days of mobile devices. Why, then, is Netflix only wanting to allow you to add movies to your queue when logged into the website itself? According to the comments being left on the announcement, people aren’t very happy – to say the least.

What are your thoughts? Is Netflix making the right move here, or have they gone a bit off the deep end?

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Are You Ready to Cut the Cable?


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37% of young Netflix subscribers aged 25-34 have cut cable for Netflix only, and almost 30% of users between ages 18-24 are using Netflix only vs. cable or satellite. Are people cutting cable for On Demand services? Are you thinking about it? Lamarr is definitely thinking about it – or at least talking about it.

It’s interesting to see so many people getting rid of standard cable connections in favor of services such as Hulu and Netflix. A recent post on Mashable talks about the ways our living rooms are changing. They discuss every option available these days from Boxee to Netflix to Apple TV.

Lamarr happens to be in this “young age bracket.” He hasn’t cut his cable yet, but he did purchase the Roku Box. He is amazed by it – and the fact that Hulu will be coming to the Roku this fall. He’s replacing his standard TV in his living room with Google TV in the near future, as well.

At the end of October, Lamarr is cutting his cable. Are you doing the same?

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