Tag Archives: netflix

Netflix is Raising the Prices on Two of its Plans



The Associated Press reported that Netflix is raising the price for its most popular U.S. video streaming plan by 10 percent. This change is going to affect most of Netflix’s 53 million U.S. subscribers.

As you might expect, the Netflix US Twitter account has been busy answering questions about the pricing change and clarifying things. The pricing change hasn’t happened yet. Netflix users will start getting emails about the pricing change on October 19, 2017, or after. Your email might arrive 30 days out from your billing date.

Netflix tweeted that the new prices are $7.99, $10.99, and $13.99. Netflix offers three streaming plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. The Verge provided a good explanation of the price changes:

The standard tier, which allows subscribers to watch on two screens at once, will be bumped up from $9.99 to $10.99 per month. The premium tier, which is available in Ultra HD and allows users to watch on up to four screens, will go from $11.99 to $13.99. The Basic $7.99 per month plan will remain the same.

In other words, people who have the Basic Netflix plan will not see a change in price. Those who have either the Standard or Premium Netflix plans will see a change in price and will be paying an extra $1 or $2 per month for their Netflix plan beginning on, or sometime after, October 19, 2017.

The reason for the price increase appears to be so Netflix can continue to make original content.


Netflix launches its own speed test website thanks to frustrating ISPs



Netflix_Web_LogoA big deal has been made of bandwidth when using Netflix, especially so after the streaming service had to arrange a payment agreement with Comcast because it was throttling customers — a fee that amounted to little more than protection money from a mob shakedown.

Netflix also publishes a monthly report that calls out ISPs for their speeds. Since that public shaming wasn’t really enough, the company is now releasing its own speed test so it’s customers can see exactly what it is they are paying for.

The new site, which goes by the name fast.com, is similar to some existing services. It’s the same, but different from what the company has been doing.

“This consumer speed test is different than our Netflix ISP Speed Index. Fast.com measures your personal Internet connection at any given time. The speed index measures average monthly speeds of actual Netflix streams during prime time hours”, Netflx claims.

The service works in every country and you don’t have to be a Netflix customer use it. It’s also free, which is always a plus for people.


Netflix Lets You Control Mobile Data Usage



INetflix_Web_Logot’s never good to go over your mobile data plan’s monthly limit. This can lead to higher bills as well as service slowdowns and suspensions. Tools have gotten better over the years for measuring mobile data use. But they still leave much to be desired. Consuming rich media media like streaming video on mobile devices can eat thru a data plan quickly. But by default, most mobile video apps don’t provide any indicator of how much data they’re using, and rarely are the default video quality settings in these apps configured to a lower setting that’d use less data. Netflix is hoping to take some of the pain out of mobile video consumption with new in-app settings that allow users to control how much data the app can use.

In the recently updated version of its iOS and Android apps, Netflix users will find a setting called Cellular Data Usage. This setting can now be changed from the default selection, which uses about a gigabyte of data for every three hours of viewed content, to a lower or higher setting. There’s even an unlimited data option for those who aren’t worried at all about how their video-viewing habits affect their data usage.

This change should come as a welcome relief to anyone who’s been burned in the past by Netflix-related overages. Hopefully, other video app developers will follow suit and add similar options to their own offerings.


Netflix Offers Unlimited Maternity and Paternity Leave



Netflix_Web_LogoNetflix announced a new policy that will greatly benefit their employees. They are introducing an unlimited leave policy for new moms and new dads. The unlimited leave policy enables a new parent to take off as much time as he or she wants during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.

Parents can return to work at Netflix part-time, full-time, or return and go back out as needed. The point is to give new parents the flexibility they need to take care of their growing family.

I think the most noteworthy part of Netflix’s new policy is this sentence: “We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay.” In other words, a new mom or dad can take as much time off of work as he or she needs, for a year, so that they can take care of their child – without having the added worries that come with a sudden lack of income.

There are some companies that offer maternity leave, but paternity leave is extremely rare in the United States. Some companies that do offer maternity leave place restrictions upon who can use it.

Those restrictions can include limiting it to women who have worked for the company for a certain amount of time, or only offering it to women who have upper-level positions. It is not unheard of for a woman to be denied pregnancy leave because the company considered her to be a “temporary” worker at any point in her career.

While some companies offer paid maternity leave, many only offer unpaid maternity leave. Netflix’s new paid maternity and paid paternity leave is extremely beneficial for their employees who have started a family. It’s time for more companies to follow Netflix’s lead.


Long Term Hulu Plus Thoughts



hulu_plusI have been using Hulu Plus for several months, and I have a few additional comments about the service.

I tend to watch lots of science documentaries. Over time, I’ve seemed to nearly exhaust the documentaries available on Netflix and Amazon videos. One of the things I really like about the Hulu Plus is that it includes shows from the BBC, Canada and Australia. This opens up a new world of high quality documentary material that isn’t available to me otherwise.

From a technical streaming point of view, the service always seems to stream well. I have encountered no server issues streaming either via DSL or mobile data connections.

The various Hulu Plus apps themselves do have a few issues. I regularly use the iOS, Android and Roku versions of the Hulu Plus apps. The interfaces seem mostly straightforward, though there are a few quirks and differences from one app to the next.

The biggest problem I’ve encountered is the service being able to remember where I’m stopped at in an individual video as well as a series of videos. For example, let’s say I’m in the 5th episode of a season. The service may or may not remember that I’ve already watched the previous 4 episodes.

Additionally, if I pause in the middle of a video, there’s at least a 50% chance that if I come back to the series later, instead of starting me out exactly where I was in the paused video, the service will kick me to the next episode even though I haven’t finished watching the prior episode.

These synching problems seem to be consistent across all of Hulu Plus’ apps. I can use only one app, say on my iPad Air, and will likely encounter the synching issue the next time I open the app to try to get back to where I left off. Moving to a different device entirely I will still encounter the same synching problem.

These synching issues are areas where Netflix and Amazon really seem to have this nailed down and leave Hulu Plus lagging behind.

Even with the synching issues, I really like Hulu Plus and make extensive use of it. In my view it is well worth the $8 monthly charge.


Roku Streaming Stick Review



This is Gonna Be FunRoku‘s streaming media boxes have been around since 2008, arguably taking the #2 spot behind the Apple TV. This is an impressive achievement considering the absence of a major brand behind the product line. Here in the UK, set-top boxes like Apple TV, Roku, and Google TV have a relatively low-profile: the BBC’s iPlayer catchup service is massively popular, but as the app is widely available on satellite decoders, cable boxes, games consoles and laptops, there is little demand for an additional streaming device. The latest generation of low cost, plug-in streamers from Roku and Google may well change this. Let’s take a look.

Roku Box

What I have here is the UK edition of Roku’s Streaming Stick, a thumb-sized streaming device that plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port, bringing Roku’s wide range of content and 450+ channels to a British audience. We’re used to a high quality TV service from the likes of the BBC, so the content has to be there, and we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s get it out of the box first.

Roku in Box

The Streaming Stick is presented in Roku’s trademark purple with neat packaging that promotes “This is going to be fun”. In the box is the Streaming Stick itself, a remote control (including decent batteries) and the power supply, which is actually a USB charger, connecting to the Streaming Stick via microUSB.

Streaming Stick and Controller

The remote control is slightly different to the previous generation – there are no game buttons, motion controller or headphone jack, and it uses WiFi Direct rather than Bluetooth to communicate with the Streaming Stick. Admittedly of little consequence unless you are an existing Roku owner expecting those features.

Getting started is easy – plug the Stick into the TV’s HDMI port, power it up with the microUSB cable and put the batteries into the remote control. Switching over to the HDMI channel, the Roku Streaming Stick initially asks for the password to a local wifi network. Once connected to the wider internet, existing Roku owners can can login with their credentials or new owners can sign up for a user name and password. Apart from having to use the remote control rather than a keyboard to do the finger work, it’s painless.

Roku uses the metaphor of channels to deliver media and content. For the smartphone generation, these are more easily thought of as apps which mostly deliver video content. In addition to programmes, there are games, weather forecasts and picture viewers. From the hundreds of channels available, you add favourites to your account to build up your collection. Some channels / apps cost a few pounds, but the vast majority are free.

My Roku Channels

From a UK perspective most of the major players are on-board with apps for BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Demand 5 and Sky Store. ITV player is noticeable in its absence. There are apps too for Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Flickr and the Roku Media Player which does what it says, playing locally available pictures, music and video. There are lots of other apps and channels to choose from, categorised by type to help you find what you want.

Channel Categories

Many of the channels are US-centric and there’s a ton of faith-based programming, mostly Christian with a smaller number of other faiths. Local US TV stations are also present, which can be fun if you are going to be visiting an area on holiday or business.

US Local News on Roku

Of course, there are plenty of independent content producers as well. GNC is right at home on the Roku….

Geek News on Roku

To complement the content, there’s also an app for smartphones, which lets your device replace the remote control, both at a simple button pushing level and for more advanced features such as choosing new channels.

Roku App Remote Control Roku App

But the real trick is the “Play on Roku” feature which pushes content from your smartphone to the Roku, including music, photos and videos. All you do is select the content on your phone and, bang, it’s up on the big screen in glorious HD. It’s a great feature and a fantastic way to review photos and short videos on a larger screen, especially after a holiday. If you take a lots of photos with your smartphone, it’s almost worth getting a Roku for this feature alone.

One final thing…as I mentioned, the Roku Streaming Stick is powered by microUSB via a provided USB charger. I found that the Streaming Stick wasn’t terribly fussy about the power source and that you can easily run the Stick from other sources, such as a USB battery pack or even the TV itself, if equipped with a USB port. Could be handy to know if you are travelling or simply want a tidier entertainment unit.

MicroUSB Roku

Overall, the Roku Streaming Stick is a great little gadget that provides loads of extra content for UK viewers. It might be a more expensive at £50 than the Google Chromecast at £30, but there’s more content and the Roku has a remote control, which I think is a plus point. It’s handy too for a second TV that perhaps doesn’t have a satellite or cable connection, and can now use iPlayer or Netflix. It’s a neat, plug’n’play solution that is about as simple as it can be.

Thanks to Roku for the review unit.


Netflix New Years Gift? Drops 80 Movies, TV Shows from Streaming Subscription



Netflix_Web_LogoIf you are a fan of “Titanic”, “Top Gun”, or even “Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo” — you have only a few hours left to watch them on Netflix.

More than 80 movies and a group of TV shows including “Saturday Night Live” will be removed from the service on January 1, 2014. Netflix adds and removes movies and TV shows on a regular basis. This is all due to licensing contracts.

Nonetheless, TV shows like “Mr. Bean”, “Dark Shadows”, and “Kids in the Hall” will be removed for the new year. Movies include “Platoon”, “Flashdance”, “Being John Malkovich”, amongst others.

These movies might come back with new licensing deals. In the meantime, new movies and TV shows will be added including “Jack Reacher”, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”, and “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. TV shows like “Dexter” seasons 5-8 will also be added in the coming weeks.

The full list of Netflix titles ending can be found on this Reddit post