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Netflix.ca: My Experiences and Unbiased Review

My Experiences and Unbiased Review

My Experiences and Unbiased Review

A huge buzz on Forums, Blogs, Newspapers and Television in Canada has started. The topic, Netflix.  Even though this is a new service in Canada (just launched last week) We’ve been dealing with this for a while. The Reason? We’ve had hundreds of questions as to whether or not we can provide American IP addresses so that Canadians can use our service as a VPN to access American content.

But now it’s in Canada! So why the blog post about it? It seems as though this move to Canada hasn’t been very well planned… Just the other day I went to Future Shop and purchased a Seagate Freeagent GoFlex Tv box. A very simple device, has a huge Netflix logo on the box and even allows you to install a hard drive and store conent on it!

I signed up for my free trial on Netflix.ca and said to myself “Lets go.” After about 30 minutes of fiddling with the box to set it up to my network  (I noticed WiFi was an optional item, so I had to run a network cable to my Home Theatre…) I finally hooked it up to my tv surround sound.

The first thing I did was go to the Netflix page on the screen to try an watch my first movie. Instead of being able to watch this movie it got a wonderful message that said: “Netflix is not authorized for use in your region.”

What? How is Netflix not available in my region? It’s Netflix.ca now, not just Netflix.com… So I started googling my experiences (which I probably should have done first) and found that NO devices other than Wii, PS3, iPhone and iPad will work with Netflix in Canada.

Knowing that many of these devices were running some type of embedded Linux OS I decided to take an extra 1U supermicro chassis that I was using for Vyatta testing and re-imaged it with Ubuntu Desktop.

The size was about the same as my BluRay player and it sat in my stand very nicely. I opened up Firefox and went to Netflix.ca with the intentions of streaming my first movie. The second setback… “You are using an unsupported browser/operating system.” Apparantly Netflix only runs on Windows and Mac!

I said to myself, there must be a work around. I installed the “Change UserAgent” addon for firefox and installed Moonlight (Silverlight equivalent for Linux). I then changed my UserAgent to make it seem like I was an OSX Safari browser and got passed the “You are using an unsupported browser/operating system.” screen.

I saw the video begin to load when setback #3 happened, this time, an error from the Moonlight Plugin. It seems that Netflix requires the end-user have a version of silverlight that supports DRM (Digital Rights Management) to ensure that the feed isn’t being copied illegally.

At this point I stepped back and said to myself… “Why the hassle?” I’m definitely not going to watch movies on my iMac, and I’m definitely not going to buy a Wii or PS3 just for Netflix. So I decided to look through the content and see if it’s even worth it to go any further.

About 20 minutes later, after looking throug the content selection, my decision was made. As soon as I saw Terminator 2 in the “New Action” category it seemed my previous 2 hours of effort was all down the drain.

Why bother releasing a service that is Sub-Par to the American equivalent, doesn’t work on any platform that is common (at least in my household) and charge the same price for it? It doesn’t paint a bright picture for the Netflix brand in Canada, and we all know how important first impressions are.

Conclusion

Feel free to sign up for the free trial, but I would not recommend Netflix as a replacement for buying the movie channels or extra theme packages from the TV companies just yet. Even if there was a simple way of getting it on your TV, the subscription is still lacking some solid content.

In order to win me over, Netflix will have to provide a service where I want to watch something on it rather than forcing myself to watch things so that my $7.99 is justified.

Hopefully the new AppleTV will be able to work in Canada right out of the box. Until then I’ll be hooking up my OSX86 hackintosh to my home theatre whenever I want to watch something.

21 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Jayme

    Your not going to get new movies and tv series for $7.99.The probleam i think is some are expecting everything for $7.99 thats never going to happen.A ondemand new release is $6.50 so why should netflix offer all you can steam for $8.

    • I definitely agree with you there… Although I have seen stories in Forums where Americans have cancelled majority of their Television subscriptions and replaced it with Netflix as the selection is much better.

      My critique is more focused towards their sloppy Canadian implementation. If a techie like me can’t get Netflix to work on their TV with the resources available (and the average person doesn’t have extra 1U servers hanging around to install a hacked mac osx to connect to their tv), Imagine the non technical person and all of the people who wanted to try it, went to a store to get a set-top-box and were presented with the same error message as me.

      If you’re wanting it to stream on a mobile device like an iPod, iPad or watching it on your Computer, the selection is close to being worth $7.99 per month.

  2. Jayme

    Don’t forget it took time for netflix in the states to be where it is today.Yes the selection is much better but that took years it was not like that at launch.I have talked to many americans and they say the canadian launch line up is equal if not better then the american launch.

  3. Carol Wain

    NetFlix.ca has been down for at least 3 weeks. Netflix Site Error
    We were unable to process your request.

    Please go to the Netflix home page by clicking the button below.

    I cannot even cancel my free subscription!

    • That’s weird… I’m getting it just fine. I’ve been streaming on my AppleTV the last few weeks every other night. Only had one little blip three night ago, but it was my first HD stream and I only have 5mbps at home.

  4. Perra

    I understand your concern, but I have to say something about your ‘review’: in the title you mention that this is your experience and ‘unbiased review’. These two things can’t go together. You described your experience with the Netflix, but if you want to give unbiased review, you have to be, well, unbiased. Netflix.ca worked for me perfectly so far (two months), it has hundreds of movies that I haven’t had a chance to watch, kids are perfectly happy with their section, wife can finally watch some romance movies. We watch it in the basement (regular 27″ CRT connected to a Wii) and in the living room (46″ Samsung LED connected through WI Fi and Netflix capable). If you didn’t have so esotheric equipment (Seagate TV Box? Moonlight?) maybe you would have better experience. After all, it is them who set the rules about the availability on specific machines. My only two problems with them are the lack of content and the lack of subtitles (English is my third language and I like to watch movies with CC).

    • I was completely unbiased… I never once mentioned anything negative about the quality or stability. In fact, all movies I’ve watched (I purchased an AppleTV since this article which works great) have streamed perfectly.

      The review I wrote targeted the means upon which the “average joe” has to watch Netflix. Unfortunately there aren’t very many adults who will watch a full length movie on a computer or mobile device. Therefore, compatibility of products to get this on your TV/Home Theatre system is very important. Netflix will never grow past certain demographics unless it’s easy for people to get it on their TV set.

      Unfortunately, the content still lacks the necessary punch to make it more popular and is still out of date. I would happily pay $20 to $30 per month if the selection had new releases and/or new TV shows.

  5. Delmar Hansen

    I have trouble hearing and the volume was as high as my system would go,but due to not being able to hear all the audio the movies and tv shows I tried to watch was very disapointing. The pictur quality seemed to be very good though. Delmar

  6. Terry

    I have been using Netflix for about 2 months now. I am disappointed, not so much with the service as I haven’t had any issues there. The problem is the selection of programing. I have found very little of the programing I enjoy. The US site has the programs I want, why not the Canadian site? The other issue is that all of the programs are in stereo only. None of them are in Dolby digital 5.1. I am seriously looking at canceling my subscription.

    By the way, my Samsung Blue Ray player works fine with Netflix.

  7. jay

    Netflix Rocks in my books! How can you people whine about 8 bucks a month for what you receive????????and Terry if tv means this much to you! You need to take a serious look at your life!Maybe go for a walk, talk to a neighbor, get a job and so on!!!!!!!

    • Not whining about 8 bucks a month. The main issues encountered when the article was written were due to lack of device support. Their content has improved since the writing of the article also.

      • jay

        And you thought this war with the Canadian crtc was going to happen overnight???Spin in a circle then give your head a shake after that wake up and say yes I am a Canadian! UNREAL! You were born here no?????

  8. Dirwood

    Wow, what a bunch of netflix nuthuggers here. Joseph, your blog post is spot on and I can’t believe the number of replies jumping on your back over it. Comparing netflix canada launch to netflix USA? really? what was that like 10 years ago? times have changed, technology has improved and consumer expectations have changed with the times. what the canadian version is putting down for like a dollar less than USA per month is ridiculous- it’s not even worth $5/month to many viewers, myself included. when the walmart 2 for $5 discount dvd bin has newer releases than a big paid service like netflix, and almost everything the average joe TV/movie viewer can think of comes up not available, something was wrong with that product launch- CRTC restrictions or not. If you can’t do it half decently don’t do it at all, or at least wait until you are ready for primetime. The nuthuggers keep sayin whaddya expect for $8?… really? If Dominos delivered scrapings from their oven for 75% off the price of a regular pizza should we be ordering it?

  9. Jimmy

    Canadian traveling across USA from Winnipeg to Toronto through Minneapolis-Chicago-Cleveland-Niagra Falls. Weve been watching Netflix on our iPad and iPhones at every hotel with Wifi. Even bought an IPad 2 here, downloaded the Netflix App, logged into my Canadian Account and boom it works, getting US programming. 200 plus episodes of Stagate SG-1, Lord of the Rings, even the first season of Glee – all not available when we left Winnipeg a week ago!

  10. Louisahcooper@yahoo.com

    Netflix.ca blows. We moved to Toronto from the US a few months ago. Super great experience with Netflix there. It’s sooooo disappointing in Canada though. Very amateur. I don’t have a huge problem with the selection. Its the crap service that annoys. The server is often busy and the website often doesn’t function properly. I know they can do better.

  11. Liane

    if you get one or two good movies a month which is possible for most everyone, there are some newer movies and tv shows on here…then just be happy. It’s hard to imagine that writing comments on here is worth anyone’s time. If any of you have the time to sit and write opinions about things why not pick a topic of importance like the homeless problem here in our Canadian cities, Poverty issues, children who are sufferring, the list is endless. If you have truobles with the system just call netflix and ask for customer service, they’re very helpful. Beyond that these blogs are boring and useless, please everyone put your time energy into things that matter.

  12. Reggie

    Im tired of my netflix not working, Im tired of putting my account in every 2days, And then it can.t find aprogram get it togeather

  13. Pat McEwan

    Ive had netflix for several months now. Mostly i’ve been happy with it, But the last couple of weeks I can’t get past the UPGRADE NOW page I don’t want to upgrade but there is no NO box. I’ve tried the upgrade now and get thrown into Wii. I have no use for wii, I have it but i diont use it I just want to get into my netflex quickly and without something else trying to sell me something. HELP

  14. Paul Woodman

    I would like to know why every show I watch keeps freezing ?

  15. I can read about this all day!! Maybe you own an
    RSS feed I could check out. We have all been browsing everywhere on the web site relating to content
    with regard to video software online.

    My blog … fix video streaming problems

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