Netflix vs Lovefilm
Streaming giants go head to head
Both services have a broadly similar, grid-based interface, and navigating round them is straightforward, though Lovefilm provides extra options for its rental service, allowing you to select a film and request that it’s delivered to you by post.
As is very often the case with online video services, I saw some odd categorisation errors. I’m mystified as to why Diana Ross vehicle The Wiz was in the Science Fiction category on Netflix, and how exactly Whoopi Goldberg’s Fatal Beauty can be said to be like Starship Troopers.
These quirks aside, Netflix does a good job of presenting content that you might want to watch, based on what you’ve recently viewed, and when you watch one episode of a series, the next will be cued up, so just a couple of clicks on the remote will play it.
However, at times, I did find myself caught by the slightly odd way in which the highlighted video is the second item from the left, not the leftmost, or the central one.
For TV series, Netflix auto-cues next episodes if they're available
Lovefilm’s grid, by comparison, is a little less showy, and perhaps doesn’t look quite as up to date. It also doesn’t present TV series – where it has them – as elegantly. It also takes a few more clicks of the remote to get to, say, the genre listing.
But really, there’s not a huge amount to choose between the two. Both offer a search facility to save you browsing through page after page of listings, with an on screen keyboard and instant search as you select each letter.
Content is of course where these services live or die, and both firms have been announcing deals with film and programme makers recently. If it’s films that you enjoy watching, then Lovefilm probably has the edge. It has all the Swedish Millenium Trilogy films, for example, while none of them is available on Netflix. similarly the Jake Gyllenhall flick Source Code is only on Lovefilm.
But, if you fancy catching up on, say, Doctor Who, you’ll find all the new series on NetFlix. While Lovefilm’s ‘Collections’ says it has series one and two, what actually appeared on my TV were three episodes of Doctor Who’s Greatest Moments and one Christmas special. Another issue affecting Lovefilm is that not all content is available on all devices. For example, though the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie is available to "watch now" on the website, as are some other episodes, it’s not accessible through the TV, surely where many users will want to see it. It’s an area that Lovefilm says it's working to improve. For now, this is likely to confuse quite a few users.