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24 Days of Gadgets - Day 2

December 3, 2009 - Dave Hecei
While Blu-Ray and HDTVs are all the rage this holiday season, content is also important. Content is the programming you watch. This can be broadcast or hard content, like DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. In our hectic life, who has time to go to the rental store to get and return movies? This is why Netflix now dominates the rental business.

Netflix is a subscription service where you get DVDs and Blu-Rays through the mail. There are several different plans available based on how many discs you want to have at any one time. The base ‘unlimited’ plan (and yes those are important quotes) is one disc at a time for $8.99 a month. They now have Blu-Ray version of many current titles. For access to Blu-Ray titles there is an additional $3 per month.

There is also a $4.99 ‘limited’ plan that allows you to have one disc at a time up to two per month. If you only want to watch the occasional blockbuster then this may work for you. A benefit from having an unlimited plan, even the one-at-a-time, allows the member to instantly stream many titles over the Internet.

When you get an account at Netflix you log-in and create a DVD queue. This is just a list of the movies you would like to receive in the order you would like to watch. If the disc is available it will be mailed to you usually in one day, depending on your location maybe two. You will be amazed at how easy and convenient this process is.

When you are finished with the disc, just put it back in the pre-paid mailer that it came in and drop it in any mailbox. You can keep the movies for as long as you like, there is no such thing as a late charge on Netflix. The faster you watch it and send it back the sooner you will get your next item in your queue.

Back to the streaming part, this will soon be a more important part of Netflix. At first you could only watch Netflix streams on a Windows PC, but they did finally add Mac compatibility. Then came the Roku set top box. The Roku is a small stand-alone media player that connects to your high-speed Internet and has ports to connect to your home theatre system. With the Roku, you can sit back on the couch in front of your TV, HD or standard, and watch your Netflix stream. By using the Roku’s remote you navigate through your Netflix Instant queue allowing you to easily choose what to watch.

Streaming content is somewhat limited now, not much in current movies, but there is a good selection of current TV shows available – 30 Rock, Law & Order, The Office, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, just to name a few. Today, there are many other ways to watch Netflix streams. The Xbox360 can stream Netflix content. Just recently the Sony PS3 was added to this list. To add this capability you need to request a free Netflix streaming disc for PS3. With the two big gaming systems added, along with several of the latest Blu-Ray/DVD players, streaming will likely become a more viable delivery method for Netflix.


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