Four Netflix alternatives tested

We tested Netflix against four solid alternatives to see whether switching video providers is worth it.

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World |  Networking, amazon prime, Blockbuster

In my Netflix test, I watched the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The quality was what you'd expect of a DVD--Netflix offers HD streaming for only a handful of titles. In your Netflix account menu, you can adjust video quality, but your choices are 'Good', 'Better', and 'Best' quality, not specific resolutions. Best quality translates into "up to 1GB per hour, or up to 2.3GB per hour for HD."

Prince of Persia's video quality was fine overall, though action scenes were sometimes blurry and dark scenes sometimes showed artifacting or blockiness. Though it had faults, the streamed movie wasn't unwatchable.

Netflix's in-browser interface is very simple. It allows you to view videos with closed captions, as well as in full-screen mode.

Ease of Use

Netflix's interface is probably the easiest to use of the five services I looked at for this story, and its unique rating system means that you'll always find a fresh supply of suggestions to consult.

After you watch a film, Netflix prompts you to give it a star rating. Once you've awarded ratings to enough films (you can rate them without having watched them on Netflix), Netflix will start spitting out recommendations--including genres (on your main screen, you'll see lists of the genres you seem to like) and individual titles based on your favorite films.

The Netflix search box lets you search for titles, genres, actors, and directors, and you can browse by genre.

Hulu Plus

Stats

Price: $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming

Selection: Mostly prime-time TV hits and older movies

Notable titles: The Office, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting

Notably missing titles: Tangled, Braveheart, most popular movies

Supported platforms: Android devices, connected HDTVs, iOS devices, Macs, PCs, PlayStation 3, Roku, TiVo, WD TV

Content

Hulu Plus's content selection is limited, unless you're a big fan of TV. Most of its popular content is limited to the latest prime-time hits, such as Glee, The Office, The Colbert Report, Family Guy, and Modern Family. Most of the videos in the movie section are older or documentaries or both--such as Kennedys Don't Cry (1975).

Hulu Plus is slowly accumulating more popular films, such as Good Will Hunting (1998) and Pulp Fiction (1994), but its strength remains in TV. Many of Hulu Plus's TV shows are available just one day after they air--including Fox shows like Terra Nova and House M.D. Over the summer, Fox decided to delay free streaming of its shows for eight days, but Hulu Plus members can see shows one day after they air.

Streaming Quality


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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