Sunday, February 20, 2011

Netflix, Roku, and YouTube

 I had fallen into the routine of watching a few commentary shows on cable TV and not much else.  The demise of Countdown led to a complete halt in viewing.  I found a little solace on BBC America until I realized how they butchered Doctor Who episodes.  Checking, I discovered the same butchery applied to Primeval and other shows.  I had previously purchased episodes from iTunes when I did not have cable. Now my housemate insists I have cable in my room since she has it in hers.  When I watched episodes I had previously purchased from iTunes on BBC America, I discovered how badly edited they were.  I still watch BBC America occasionally, but I always wonder what is missing.  I am not a regular because I would rather pay iTunes for an episode than expend any effort to watch a truncated show.

My housemate has been disappointed by what was available on our cable service.  She loves to watch movies, especially British ones and comedies.  To give her more to choose from , I joined Netflix.  My housemate has a regular TV, so the theory was she would watch movies on DVD and we would alternate choices.  However, I discovered I could stream Netflix to my computer with no problem.  So my housemate got the DVDs and I streamed what I wanted.

Old Doctor Who episodes area particular favorite, but not many are available to stream.  If I wanted watch them, they had to be on DVD, too.  I upped our subscription to two DVDs at one time.  My friend began to realize that streaming was a easy way to see a variety of movies and TV very quickly.  She asked me if their were a way for her to have access to streamed videos.After a little research, I found Roku.

Roku provides a small adapter that allows Netflix and other such services to be streamed to a regular television.  I purchased one online.  When the unit arrived, it was very easy to setup.  Soon, my friend was enjoying her movies.  I, however, had hit a wall after watching one complete Briitish mystery series. Netflix simply did not stream most of what I wanted to view: Doctor Who, other British mysteries, and some movies.  Clearly, Netflix was not designed for anyone with my tastes.  I added to my DVD list in frustration.  My friend had a similar problem: movies she wanted to stream were not available even on DVD. Frustration.

I tried to find a contact point on the internet to inform Netflix that their service was really a disservice.  I could never find a place for comments.  On the internet, I found names of British mystery series that I found intriguing.  I returned to Netflix and found a few.  I added them to my Instant Queue, then went looking for a source for the others.  I would gladly pay a fee for access, but did not want to pay a per episode or movie charge like the Amazon service demands.  I cannot afford that on my present budget.

I found what I was looking for on YouTube.  Supplied with the name of the series and an episode list, I began watching my British mysteries.  The quality is sometimes not as good as on Netflix, but it is very acceptable.  I have not watched anything on Netflix for days.  If I had it to do over, since we have cable I would not have subscribed to Netflix.  I maintain my membership for my friend.

If you have mainstream tastes, then Netflix is ideal.  If you like British television, the subscription is barely worth it. My conclusion:  Roku is a great buy, Netflix is not.  Netflix is a great buy compared to cable. BBC America is taking advantage of gullible Americans with commercial laden broadcasts at the expense of quality..  The best place for Doctor Who is your PBS station.  Better still, buy or rent episodes on iTunes. If I were not sharing my home, I would subscribe to Netflix streaming, no DVDs, and I would not subscribe to cable.

(Check for Rachel Maddow on podcasts.)

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