Review Using Bell Internet


I recently said that Netflix is the future of home video based on my experience of using the service here in Canada. I’m not surprised that 20 percent of primetime US bandwidth consists of Netflix traffic. The user experience is excellent. To borrow one of Steve Jobs’ favourite phrases, “it just works.”

How I Access makes it very easy to use their service in Canada by giving you a number of options. I access the service using:

  • a Sony PlayStation 3 and Sony Bravia TV (32-inch LCD)
  • a Mac Pro (Quad-Core Intel Xeon) with 27-inch LED Cinema Display
  • iPad

I should mention that I’m using Bell Internet’s Fibe 12 service with download speeds of up to 12 Mbps. The Netflix Tech Blog published some information on the top ISP networks in the US where the top HD streams were 4,800 kbps. Rogers leads in Canada with a very fast 3,020 kbps average.

User Interface

I like the simplicity of the Netflix user interface which seems to be fairly consistent from PlayStation to iPad to the website. You can browse movie titles by genre, new arrivals or by letting suggest titles for you that I found to be fairly accurate. Browsing seems to be fastest in a web browser and the iPad for me. Using the PS3 to navigate the screens and search for movie titles was a little clunky but that might have something to do with me being a 42-year-old and not an adolescent gamer.

Set Up

Setting up an account was fast and painless. I love that Netflix accepts PayPal for your monthly fee. Once you’ve confirmed your username and password you can use up to 6 unique devices for use with your account. This is where Netlfix has a huge advantage over similar movie services from the Sony PlayStation Store, and others – it’s not chained to specific hardware.

User Experience

The best thing about Netflix is the ease of use in the interface and the speed at which you can access movies. With my set up it takes about two seconds to stream a movie – no lengthy Blu-ray loading times, no annoying movie trailers, no DVD layer changes, no waiting. This is the number one reason that Blu-ray discs are already obsolete.

While watching movies and television shows I have never had a buffering problem or interruption (waiting for video to load and continue playing). I haven’t tested this while somebody else was using my home network to download a file or watch a YouTube video. My understanding of Netflix works is that it will adjust the quality of your video stream to ensure that it continues to play.

Scanning through a movie is easier and better than scanning through a Blu-ray and DVD in my opinion. Netflix displays thumbnail images of the frames that enable you to quickly find a particular scene.

Netflix scanning

If you don’t finish watching a movie or show, Netflix remembers where you left off and lets you resume watching at a later time. I never could get this to work properly on my Blu-ray player and it would aggravate me to end that I had to skip through the trailers and menus. I suppose that if I read the manual I could have figured it out but who reads manuals these days?

Netflix resume feature

Audio and Video Quality

The audio and video quality of most of the programming is excellent. Not everything streams in high definition but when it does it looks great. I’ve been watching the show Justified and if you look at the screen capture below, the quality is quite good.


Unfortunately when I watched Saturday Night Live: The Best of Christopher Walken the video was standard definition and the quality was horrible! The video was encoded poorly revealing jaggies. You can’t really see the aliasing in the video capture below but it is quite noticeable during playback on a television screen.

Christopher Walkin

No Extras

There are no extras. No director’s commentary track. No featurettes. No online games. Nothing. If you want extras then rent/purchase the disc.

When I find the time, I enjoy watching a favourite film with the director’s commentary. Sometimes I’ll watch the extras on a DVD or Blu-ray disc but most of the time the extras suck. The movie studio marketing departments often pass of featurettes and documentaries as value-added extra features to justify the inflated price of a $30 3-disc special edition. Most of us just want to watch the $10 discount bin version of the movie which could be why Blu-ray disc sales are on the decline and Netflix is enjoying huge growth in its subscriber base.

If you’re still not convinced that Netflix is for you then try it out for free. You really can’t lose. Thanks to Paul for asking about my Netflix viewing experience which led to this review.

Posted in Movies and Netflix and Technology at 8:49 PM