Netflix Review – Online DVD Rentals and Video Streaming

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After a long hiatus from the online DVD rental game, my wife and I signed up for a Netflix trial and became subscribers again. Why? Because they offer the best value of all the online DVD rental companies and make a great substitute for renting movies from a brick and mortar store, buying movies, subscribing…

After a long hiatus from the online DVD rental game, my wife and I signed up for a Netflix trial and became subscribers again.

Why? Because they offer the best value of all the online DVD rental companies and make a great substitute for renting movies from a brick and mortar store, buying movies, subscribing to premium movie channels, or even dropping cable or satellite TV altogether. If you are are looking to try Netflix, you can visit Netflix to start your free trial today.

Netflix Review

As I’m sure you already know, Netflix pioneered the DVD rental by mail business with unlimited DVD rentals and no late fees. Netflix now offers several new features and price packages which make their plans a better deal than ever. Perhaps the most unique feature is the ability to rent DVDs via mail or stream movies over the internet.

Netflix started with the mail-order business, paying the shipping both ways. But the streaming option is by far the more popular method today. In fact, Netflix doesn’t push the physical DVD/Blu-Ray version on their home page. Customers need to visit https://dvd.netflix.com/ to sign up for the mail order DVD/Blu-Ray plan.

How Netflix Works

Netflix is easy to use – simply sign up for an account and start adding movies, documentaries, and TV episodes to your movie queue. The software will suggest movies and shows based on your preferences.

If you have the streaming plan, you can watch movies right away on your computer, tablet, or phone. The streaming video option is unlimited, but there are different levels that you can join. The base level only allows you to watch Netflix on one screen at a time and doesn’t offer HD video.

So this is a better plan for individuals or those who don’t mind not having HD video (or don’t have the Internet speed to support it). The next plan up allows members to watch Netflix on two screens at a time and offers HD video (better for families). The top-level plan offers viewing on up to 4 screens at a time and Ultra HD video.

If you choose the mail order version, then you will receive movies in the order they are selected, and you can make changes at any time.  You pay a monthly fee based on the number of disks you want to rent at a time, with free shipping both ways, and no late fees.

Online Video Streaming and Other Netflix Features

Netflix offers several price options, all but one of which are unlimited plans, which offer you unlimited DVDs sent to your home and unlimited online movie rentals via streaming.

Online movie streaming. Movie streaming is one of the best “new” features to Netflix. I say “new,” but it has been around for a while now, just not since I last used Netflix. You will need a fast internet connection to truly enjoy the movie streaming, otherwise the picture and sound may be choppy. But that would more likely be due to the connection, and not from the Netflix side of the house.

A great feature with online video streaming is the ability to pause, rewind, fast forward, and pick up where you left off. The $8.99 monthly price plan features unlimited online movie streaming, which is an excellent deal if you watch a lot of movies.

The biggest downside to the online video streaming is the limited number of online movie choices, as not all new releases are available for video streaming (however, the selection of TV shows, documentaries, and other media is excellent). When used in conjunction with the DVDs by mail and your queue, you can make sure you’ve got great movies any time you want them.

Video game console integration and Netflix players. Most of the recent gaming systems offer streaming video through Netflix and some other streaming video services. These include the more recent versions of the Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation 3 and up, and others.  You can also stream online movie rentals through TiVo, a Roku player, which plays movies from Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand, through some Blu-Ray players, or directly through your computer or TV if it is connected to the internet.

Other Netflix features:

  • Blu-ray movies. Netflix offers a wide range of Blu-ray movies, and they are constantly adding more Blu-rays to their library. That’s good news if you have a Blu-ray player.
  • More distribution centers than the competition. Netflix has several distribution centers throughout the US, which minimizes the time it takes to process and mail your movies. So you should have a better turn around time, resulting in more movie rentals per month. As a side note, some DVD companies have admitted to throttling, which is limiting the number of new DVD releases or premium rentals their top users receive in any given month, but I have never experienced this.
  • Movie recommendations, reviews, and community. The Netflix software will automatically suggest movies based on your past movie rentals, and you can read ratings and reviews of each movie before adding it to your queue. The Netflix community allows you to share movie lists with other members, exchange e-mails, etc.
  • Vacation plan. You can put your subscription on vacation hold while you are away so you don’t pay for a service you aren’t going to use. (Note: Netflix has changed how they allow subscribers to hold their subscription – members need to actually cancel their subscription but can subscribe again within 3 months without losing their information, including billing information, password, movie queue, and movie ratings).
  • No commitment. Netflix does not require an annual commitment – simply pay month to month and quit at any time.

Netflix Price Plans

Netflix pricing is actually very reasonable if you subscribe to the lower level plans, but it can get a little expensive with the higher tier plans.

But let’s face it – with unlimited online streaming, most people won’t need to elect the higher plans if they have the components in place to stream online movies. Here is a chart with the Netflix pricing plans.

Netflix Streaming Prices

Plan Price Number of Screens at Once Resolution
Basic (streaming) $8.99 1 SD
Standard (streaming) $12.99 2 HD
Premium (streaming) $15.99 4 HD + Ultra HD

Netflix Mail Plans

Plan DVD Price Blu-ray Price Total Discs Per Month Number of Discs Out at Once
Standard $7.99 $9.99 Unlimited One
Premier $11.99 $14.99 Unlimited Two

*Blu-ray movies price plans. Netflix offers Blu-Ray movies for an added fee. The Netflix Blu-ray inventory is continually growing, which is good news for those of you who prefer HD movies.

How Netflix Compares to the Competition

We chose Netflix for its convenience and variety of features. The main competitors fall in 3 categories: brick and mortar video rental stores (a rarity these days), other online streaming services like Hulu, and one day DVD rentals from a kiosk (like RedBox).

How Netflix compares:

  • Brick and Mortar: Netflix is hands down the winner – unlimited DVD rentals for less than the price of 2 rentals at a store, plus the ability to set movies in a queue and stream movies online.
  • Online DVD rentals: Netflix offers a wider variety of movie selections and online video streaming, and GameFly offers both movie and video game rental.
  • DVD from a box: RedBox and others offer DVDs for about $1 or $2 a day, but they are usually limited to new releases and a few select classics. I would only use these as a supplement to Netflix if the movie I want is buried in my queue and it might take a while before I receive it. Otherwise, the selection and online movie streaming make Netflix a clear winner.

Can You Save Money With Netflix?

If you subscribe to multiple premium movie channels for the movies and not for their exclusive content, then absolutely. If you rent multiple movies each month, then the answer is also yes. You can also save money if you are the type of person who buys several movies each month, watches them once, then doesn’t watch them again for several months, if ever.

The key to saving money with Netflix is to change those old habits and drop the extra movie channels, stop renting from the store, and stop buying movies you won’t watch often.

You probably won’t save money if you only watch a couple of movies each month, or prefer to borrow movies from the library, regardless of which movies are available (I fell into this last category for a long time; it was great to catch up on movies I had missed, but I was missing out on all the new releases!).

I’m not really saving money with Netflix because we used the library for a long time, but this is a small luxury I am willing to pay for.

Netflix Customer Service Information

Netflix Inc.
100 Winchester Circle
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Phone: 408-540-3700
Fax: 408-540-3737

Free One Month Netflix Trial

Netflix offers new customers a free one month trial to their service. If you like it, then you continue with the pricing plan you signed up for and get to watch movies at your leisure.

If you decide it’s not for you, then you can cancel at any time within the free trial period and you won’t be charged. All you do is visit Netflix today.

Netflix Alternatives

While the most popular, Netflix isn’t the only streaming option. Hulu, HBO Go, and the newly announced Disney Plus are few other choices consumers currently have.

Each offers their unique perspective on streaming. Netflix has the most robust offering of original shows, Hulu offers TV shows very soon after they appear on air, HBO Go offers several critically-acclaimed original shows, while Disney Plus offers timeless Disney classics.

None are very expensive, so a combination of a couple (or, all) of these options isn’t unrealistic.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. BEN says

    Since November 2018 dvd deliveries have slowed. It now takes an average of six days turn around when dvd is returned direct to post office. 1/2 the product for the same price. I asked why and was given a multitude of excuses but no solutions or accountability. After many years of streaming and dvd rentals I have closed my dvd account. Red box is just plain cheaper now.

  2. Larry Trivette says

    Netflix is not unlimited. If you get more dvd’s than they like per month they move your servicing city farther and farther away until the most you can get is what they like. For years my “nearest facility” was 2 hrs away and I was getting 8-9 dvd per month. Not the “nearest facility” is 5 states away and I get 5. They have enough customers to do what they want. no competition on rental.

    • Laura says

      I agree, their service has slowed down a lot. They don’t even send a new DVD on the day you return more than one (they only send one). I signed up to the service many years ago, it was really unlimited, they were really good at sending new ones every time you mailed others back. In the last year, this has changed, their price over time got higher and we are getting less and less DVDs a month, the service center was moved to another state, so DVDs take longer to get to you and back to them. That is not what their promise was back then when I signed up with them. Is it legal? to cut service, charge more, slow delivery leading to cuts on their promise of “unlimited” service?

  3. Paul says

    They like to control your DVD subscriptions. When you return 3 movies they are required to send out your next 3 on queue movies on your list. But they don’t send it out all at once they send you 2 and tell you that they will send your next DVD as soon as possible when you have many in queue. Just send it and stop controlling your paying customers. I am retired and I watch more than 3 movies a day it time permits. A lot of their DVD disc are chipped or cracked in half and when you request a replacement they do not send one until your second call requesting for a replacement and they tell you that you did not request a replacement disc. ? SMH

  4. Lee G, says

    My family’s been a member with Netflix from just after it began. It is not what it used to be. There are two categories of movies everyone has in their waiting list of chosen movies you choose to watch. One is your “Queue,” the other is “Saved.” It used to be that when a new movie or series came out on disc for sale at Walmart, Target, or wherever, it would very shortly come out at Netflix. If it was in your “Saved” list, it moved into your “Queue” list and was then available for rental. This is NO LONGER the case. It will still move from one section to the other whenever they choose to make it available, but it could be many months or over a year beyond the release date to stores for sale, RedBox, and other online disc rental services. Yes, there are others. I have many movies and TV series seasons, already released for many months that are still not available at Netflix. They didn’t use to operate this way. It began to change when they began to put more focus on their online streaming vs the disc rental services. I just called them and got the talking-points runaround where they keep trying to deflect the questions or gave reasons for it that just weren’t true. They don’t have the discs for rental but they’re showing it on their streaming service. Right! The truth is that the disc rental service just isn’t that important to them, anymore. I’m giving the others a chance starting tomorrow. Anything’s better than being wrongly treated and put off.

  5. Scott says

    The DVD plan sucks. I had the two-disc plan. I had new releases at the top of my queue and almost never received a new movie on the day it was released even when all of my disks were returned. I went over a year without getting a single new movie on the day it was released. If you don’t get the new movies on the day or release, you often have to wait over a month. I once had to wait 117 days to get a new release that was at the top of my queue. I was paying $15.99/month. If you are only interested in new releases, what is the point of the plan? Pay $15.99 and get zero movies??? If you are interested in old movies, you will have a decent selection. If you are interested in rare classic movies, be prepared to have the movie listed as “Very Long Wait” for as long as a year. If you want new releases, be prepared to hand over money and have them laugh at you and call you a sucker because not even the people in customer service will do anything to assist you.

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