Netflix : First Look

Netflix, the TV- and film-streaming service that launched in the UK at the start of January, is set to rival Lovefilm (

To sign up, you can either enter you r Facebook login detail s, or click the link to sign up using your email address. However, the second opt ion only appears when you're not signed into Face book.

The site's layout is straightforward. Handpicked suggestions, based on your preferences, sit under each category. You can rate films you've seen to improve the relevance of the suggest ions. We watched three films and the streaming didn't buffer once. Picture quality is good, if a little grainy on older titles, but the audio was poor, even at full volume.

Netflix refused to give us an exact figure on how many films and TV shows it has, but said there are "thousands" to choose from. Its library has a good mix of old and new films, but it's still limited and not all the t it les we wanted to watch were available.

Netflix will stream to your PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, TV, tablet or smartphone (Lovefilm only streams to PS3, TV and iPad), and it has a clever Android and Apple app that lets you resume playback on your phone from the point you stopped on your PC. When we watched videos over Wi-Fi, the streaming was flawless, but it is frustratingly poor on 3G. You can also only stream to one device at a time.

A Netflix subscription costs £5.99 a month for unlimited streaming, after a month's free trial. Netflix does offer DVD rentals outside of the UK (it has 20 million subscribers in the US and Canada), but there are, as yet, no plans to rent DVDs in the UK. This, for the time being, gives Lovefilm a slight advantage, but customers who only want to watch films online could soon jump ship to Netflix.

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