With an affordable subscription model and access to thousands of popular movies and shows, Netflix has turned TV and movie streaming into a new favorite pastime.
Netflix started in the late 1990s as a DVD-rent-by mail service with just a handful of titles. Its major selling points were no due dates, no late fees and affordable monthly plans. The company added an online streaming service in 2007 and began producing original content in 2012.
Compare Netflix packages
Netflix offers three streaming plans to its users. Unlike Hulu or Amazon Prime, the service doesn’t have add-ons for specific networks like Cinemax, HBO, Showtime or Starz. As a result, the highest-priced plan is far less expensive than, say, Hulu or Amazon Prime with all the bells and whistles. New users can take advantage of a one-month Netflix free trial.
|Free trial length||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Number of titles||5,000+||5,000+||5,000+|
|Cloud DVR storage||None||None||None|
|Number of simultaneous streams||1||2||4|
|Number of user profiles||5||5||5|
|Picture quality available||SD||HD||4K|
Is Netflix the right streaming service for you?
Affordability, a huge bank of movies and a growing bank of original content make Netflix a favorite among streaming newbies and veterans. If you enjoy exploring both network and original TV shows or pride yourself on being a cinephile, this is the platform for you.
Plus, since some of its popular third-party shows and movies have moved to other streaming services like Peacock, Netflix has been burning the midnight oil creating original content. The result? Wildly-popular series like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards, Queer Eye and more.
The Netflix TV and computer apps give you the option to watch previews for movies and shows, read user reviews, explore different genres, review new recommendations and browse previously-watched shows and movies. Both interfaces provide info about each title, including primary cast members, genre, what ages the content is suitable for and other details.
The mobile app offers many of the same features available on the desktop and TV apps. Once a TV or movie begins playing, the screen will automatically flip to horizontal / landscape orientation.
Keep in mind that Netflix limits the number of users who can watch shows on different screens at the same time based on the plan you choose. So if you want to share your account among your family, you might want to opt for the premium subscription.
Netflix supports a variety of devices from Smart TVs to gaming consoles, mobile phones and more. The Netflix website provides an extensive database of compatible devices, including:
- Blu-ray players
- Nintendo 3DS
- PCs and laptops
- Playstation 3
- Playstation 4
- Set-top boxes (Xfinity, Dish, RCN and more)
- Windows phones
- Xbox 360
- Xbox One
Netflix has tons of features that’ll increase your viewing pleasure, including previews and the ability to download episodes of certain shows.
Enjoy watching previews
Available on mobile, TV and desktop, this feature allows you to watch a quick preview of featured movies and shows so you can discover new content more quickly.
Choose your adventure
Netflix offers “interactive” movies and television shows like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Bear Grylls’ You vs. Wild, and Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale where you can choose your adventures, make choices for the characters and shape the stories as you go.
Download movies or episodes
You can download your favorite shows and movies onto your computer or smartphone using home or public Wi-Fi hot spots.
Explore new genres
There are tons of highly niche categories to explore on Netflix, from “Dutch movies” to “Dramas based on books,” “Football movies,” “Showbiz musicals,” and just about anything else.
Listen to audio descriptions
This feature allows you to listen to a narration describing what the characters are doing on-screen. You can enable audio narration in the same menu where you choose subtitles.
What to watch on Netflix
When it comes to exploring new content while revisiting your old favorite shows and movies, Netflix is a top choice. Plus, having access to Netflix means you won’t get left out of the water cooler chit-chat about Stranger Things, Black Mirror or Orange is the New Black when a new seasons drop.
What’s more, there are plenty of great network shows and reboots available like Riverdale, Frasier, Parks and Recreation, Breaking Bad, Supernatural, Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead and more. Not to mention Netflix has come into its own with critically-acclaimed films like Roma, as well as popular films like Always be my Maybe, Barry and Bird Box.
How to sign up for Netflix
To sign up for Netflix, simply visit Netflix.com, then choose the “Join Now” option. This will take you to a page where you’ll choose the basic, standard or premium plan. Next, create your account by entering your email address and a password in the fields on the page. Lastly, select a payment method. Netflix accepts credit cards, debit cards or Paypal.
While Netflix will be losing some popular shows in the next couple of years, it still offers thousands of high-quality original and network movies and shows like GLOW, Arrested Development, Ozark, Master of None, Grace and Frankie and more. Netflix’s original content alone has become reason enough to give this service a whirl with a seven-day free trial.
If you’re a die-hard Disney fan or need instant access to the latest episodes of your favorite network shows, you might be better off with a service like Hulu. And if it’s a premium channel fix you need, like HBO or STARZ, Hulu and Amazon Prime offer access to premium networks that are not available on Netflix.