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Streaming Video Services: How Do They Compare?

The Internet has created tremendous opportunities to enjoy video just about anywhere. By using a variety of Internet-connected devices and services, instant entertainment abounds. And because the medium is digital streaming, the need to store and maintain piles of discs has disappeared. The chart below compares the key features of a number of today’s most popular video streaming services.

Search/Save Features

Subscription Options

Video/Audio Quality

Catalog Size

Device Compatibility*

Key Pros and Cons

Netlfix®

  • Multiple categories for search

  • Provides recommendations based on what you've viewed or reviewed

  • Instant queue

Free: 30-day trial

Paid: $7.99/month  access to unlimited amount of available content from any compatible device

1080p

Stereo or 5.1-channel Dolby® surround, adjusts to equpiment, network capability

Unofficially, over 30,000 titles

Home: Most high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, and game consoles

Mobile: iPad®; Android™, iPhone®, and BlackBerry® smartphones

Computers: Mac®, Windows®, tablets

Pros: Works on myriad devices. Growing streaming selection including award-winning original programming.

Cons: Separate queue and fee for DVD service can be confusing

Vudu

  • Multiple categories for search

Free: 30-day trial

Paid: Pay as you go, $2 per movie for two night rental of standard-definition titles

HD titles ranging from $3.99 to $5.99 for new releases

480i to 1080p

Stereo to 7.1-channel Dolby® Digital Plus, depends on equipment compatibility and rental selection

Unofficially, over 20,000 titles

Home: Many high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, and game consoles

Mobile: Android, iPhone, iPad

Computers: Mac, Windows, tablets

Pros: Works on many devices. No monthly fee

New releases simultaneous with DVD release

Cons: No saved instant queue feature

Blockbuster® On-Demand

  • Multiple categories for search

Free: Some free content available with registration

Paid: Pay as you go, $1.99 - $4.99 for streaming

Movie purchase via download $10 and up.

1080i

Stereo

Unofficially, over 3,000 titles

Mobile: Some Android phones

Home: Many high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, DVRs, and home theater receivers

Computers: Mac, Windows, tablets

Pros: Works on many devices. No monthly fee

Cons: No saved instant queue feature

Not compatible with iPod

Sony Entertainment Network

  • Multiple categories for search

Free: Movie trailers

Paid: Pay as you go, prices vary depending on title and format and range from $0.99 to $5.99 per rental.

Video quality ranges from standard-definition to 3D Blu-ray

Stereo or 5.1-channel Dolby surround, adjusts to equipment, network capability

No published estimate of library size available.

Mobile: Some Sony Ericsson Android phones

Home: PS3, some BRAVIA home theater receivers, televisions and Blu-ray players

Computers: Sony tablets

Pros: Some 3D titles

Cons: Works primarily with Sony devices

No saved instant queue feature

Not compatible with iPod

huluPLUS

  • Multiple categories for search

Free: Regular Hulu is available for free with limited content and commercial interruptions, via computer only, free one week trial of huluPLUS

Paid: huluPLUS is $7.99 per month for unlimited viewing and limited commercial interruption

HD when available

Stereo

16,000 episodes of 400 current and classic TV programs, some movies

Mobile: Android, iPhone, iPad

Home:Many high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, game consoles and TiVo®

Computers: Mac, Windows, tablets

Pros: Works on many devices

Large selection of TV content includes entire seasons of shows, both older and current programs

Cons: Cost supported in part by commercials that can't be skipped

* Viewing on mobile or home A/V devices often requires a paid subscription; see video service site for details.

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