Netflix today: Is 'Watch Instantly' worth the price?


I was a lapsed Netflixer; after watching dozens of movies via Netflix's swap-three plan, my wife and I found that we were viewing the DVDs less and less often, so, in a fit of belt-tightening, we dropped the service. However, intrigued by the new "Watch Instantly" feature, last week I signed up for the service's two-week trial membership.

The "Watch Instantly " feature streams content to the web browser of your computer, which works remarkably well, as long as you have a high-bandwidth link. It remembers where you quit and returns you to that spot. I did, however, have several instances where the show I was watching was stopped, and I received an error message. Reloading, a matter of a minute or so, brought it back, and at the right point in the story.

This new feature is just what I'm looking for; on-demand programming without commercials for a reasonable fee. My main quibble is the very limited selection of videos currently available via this feature. Loads of old (read:cheap) television series and overexposed movies comprise much of the queue, so I'm still forced to watch The Wire by shuffling discs the old way.

A second option, for which I am not equipped, is to watch content via one of several networked devices, including the Xbox, TiVo, or the $99 Netflix Player. This would be much handier when watching with other people or streaming to your large-screen TV.

Unlimited "Watch Instantly" is included in the $8.99 monthly one-disc-at-a-time program, and if I can find enough content to keep myself entertained, I'll probably continue this subscription and drop some premium channels on my cable TV.