This is a guest post by Paul Thompson. Paul is a gadget and technology writer from Manchester and can be found on his blog www.techitorleavit.co.uk.
If you’ve just got hold of one of the new 4G phone options that launched with of EE, you’ll probably be all of a quiver at what video streaming options you can now make use of when out and about – without the worry of buffering that often came with 3G.
Of course, there are free options to consider like YouTube and the Sony-owned Crackle – which are absolutely worth having anyway – but what about the major subscription services that are now vying for your attention? Which is best? How are they priced? And what kind of content can they offer?
The truth is, despite being the one that has been in the market the longest; LoveFilm’s streaming option isn’t available on 4G smartphones. So, why include them in the list? Well, two reasons really. The first being that you can access the service through a 4G dongle on a laptop, plus you can download the app for Kindle Fire HD or iPad. The other reason is that, if LoveFilm wants to compete in this market, it simply has to address this so a smartphone app simply has to be in development. At £4.99 per month for a digital only subscription, it’s cheap. And while the user interface is often frustrating to use, it offers a brilliant selection of TV and films – especially for those who like older, stranger movies that they may not have heard of.
Netflix arrived in the UK in early 2012 and was the first major challenger to the LoveFilm crown. It is much more mobile friendly, in that it can be downloaded to Android, Apple and Windows handsets. At a cost of £5.99 per month, it’s slightly dearer, but the way you navigate the player is much more intuitive than its rival and even connects nicely to Facebook. In terms of content, the range of films and TV shows is excellent, with a good mix of old and new stuff that might be ever so slightly more favourable to those with more mainstream tastes. Perhaps one of the greatest things is though; you could be out and about watching a film on your phone and then pick up exactly where you left off later when at home or at your desk on any enabled device.
Backed by the buying power of Sky TV, which is usually able to bring content to its viewers well before anyone else, it should be no surprise that Now TV is the service that can boast the freshest options. The streaming package was only launched in summer 2012, so it’s definitely the new kid in town, but it could well prove popular. The user interface is nice and an app is available for Apple and selected Android smartphones, which is great news for the 4G crowd. However, it should be noted that as it stands, the selection is way more limited than LoveFilm and Netflix, plus there is the much more costly price to think about. You can currently sign up for a three-month special offer of £8.99, but after that you’ll see it double to £15.
All in all, Netflix has to be the overall winner, but with three big players in this market, 2013 could well see prices, content and application support change significantly.
Do you use a digital streaming service to watch television and films? If so, which one do you use, and why did you choose it? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.