Pros / You get a free one-month trial.
Cons / There aren’t any current seasons of cable TV shows.
Verdict / With tons of award-winning original content alongside old classics and popular TV shows, Netflix has a lot to offer at an affordable price.
Editor's Note: Some changes have occurred since our last round of testing. For example, Netflix added a "skip forward" button and incorporated ads into some content. We will re-evaluate and test this streaming service again soon.
With Netflix you can choose between a basic, standard or premium plan. With standard and premium you get HD streaming, but you get Ultra HD with premium if you’re concerned about viewing quality. The basic plan allows you to watch on one screen at a time, standard allows for two and the premium plan allows for four, so your entire family can stream at the same time from any location. All of the packages give you unlimited movies and TV shows and let you watch from any device and cancel your subscription any time. We got the premium package for our tests and we recommend it because even older content displays with crystalline clarity. We watched some “Friends,” and it looked like it could have been filmed in 2018.
Once you’re signed up you can stream content through other devices like a Roku. But first and foremost, you’re asked to select TV shows you like so the Netflix algorithm can recommend titles you’re likely to enjoy. We noticed some of the choices are Netflix originals, and if this is your first time using the service you would have no way of knowing what the TV show or movie is about. That aside, you’re shown content based on what you like. This can either be really annoying because you can’t scroll through content alphabetically, or really refreshing because you’re exposed to content you might not otherwise watch. You can, however, browse by genre or search specifically by title. If you find titles that interest you, you can add them to “My List” for easy access later.
Netflix’s brilliant “skip intro” button, launched in 2017, lets you skip the title sequences of TV shows. It’s things like this that earned Netflix an A+ for ease of use from our testers. The service has earned plenty of buzz by creating a lot of acclaimed original content. From the award-winning “Orange is the New Black” to reality competitions like “Nailed It!” Netflix is the only place to watch them. If you like original content you should also check out Amazon Prime Video or Hulu. The downside to Netflix is you never know how long content will be available. For instance, “Family Guy” had long been available through Netflix but was removed in February 2018 and, as of five months later, still hadn’t been re-added. Another oddity with the site is while you’ll have access to current episodes of Netflix content, it lacks current TV show episodes from other sources like cable and network TV channels.
You can set up numerous user accounts so your teenager’s horror movies don’t affect the movies and TV shows being recommended to you. The Netflix Kids section is also useful for the younger members of your household, as it displays child-appropriate content only. Parental controls are accessible in the “Settings” tab if you want to keep your kiddos from watching certain content. Another thing you can do with Netflix is rent actual DVDs and Blu-rays, though you pay more every month for this. The Starter and Standard packages let you check out one disc at a time while the Premier package for $11.99 more per month lets you check out two. The Starter Package only lets you rent two per month while you can rent an unlimited number with the Standard and Premier plans. There are no late fees and you get free two-day shipping and returns with all three packages.