Gimme Back My Netflix

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About a year ago, I started to get into streaming media for a variety of reasons.   My first and probably biggest driver was the cost and overall quality of my cable package, I mean I can live with paying $80 a month for a decent entertainment package, but not one that is filled with rubbish.  So I started to look online for alternatives in both quality and costs.  My first port of call was the cheapest, downloading stuff on my very fast cable connection from the newsgroups, which believe it or not is entirely possible.  If you want to check out this route then buy yourself a decent NAS (Network attached storage) and download big blocks of stuff – some devices can do this automatically. It kinda works but is very fiddly when you start missing one part of the download and the whole thing won’t play, or a file gets deleted or archived half way through your download.  After a while I looked at the private downloads – the services which mirror news sites and give you a dedicated client to download – stuff like Bintube and Usnext all work very well.

The problem with these is not specifically the service, but just the junk that gets uploaded to Usenet groups. Lots of times the files are not what they say, and often they are encrypted with a password.  To get the passwords you need to go through some crappy spam filled advertising pages, which flood your PC with malware (so the uploader gets paid).  To be honest it’s not worth the hassle although if you filtered to trusted uploaders and did batch downloads it’s an option worth considering.  I did this for about 12 months before getting fed up with the various hassles and incorrect files.

I then moved to a couple of subscription services which were completely legitimate – LoveFilm from Amazon and Netflix from someone else.  Both these give a free months trial to test out.  You can stream direct to your computer or any net enabled device like an Xbox 360, Wii or one of the many dedicated media streamers.  I tested for a month on my laptop and chose Netflix, best value and biggest choice I thought.  I even shelled out on a great little streamer called the Roku which connects to your TV and streams to that directly.  Works like a dream for a few bucks a month as long as you have a decent 5mb+ internet connection.

I was happy, and with technology that’s quite unusual for me.  Until I went abroad, I packed up my laptop and Roku and went to live in London for 12 months.  I had to do some work there , so I figured I could enjoy my Netflix account from there as I had a good internet connection.  That’s when  I discovered that all Netflix accounts are not equal, the American one is the best by far, the UK version of Netflix is hopeless and that’s what you get connecting from London.  Fortunately I discovered how you could get American Netflix outside the US, but it took me a while.  So then I got the best of both worlds – I could access BBC iPlayer without having to use a proxy like this and could use the American versions when I needed.

Anyway hope this post has helped, check the link above if you’re having problems with International versions of rubbish media sites.

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