Outside local news (and occasional live sport event), I get most of my video content from the Internet. Through the years there has been a steady uptick of video content from the Internet . Most of the contents are foreign, however, so when a Netflix clone became available, it was a no-brainer for me. iflix is a video on-demand service mainly targeted to Southeast Asia (currently only in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand).
I’ve been trying iflix for more than a month now. If you are experimenting on the idea cord-cutting or just looking for an alternative way to get more video content, read on.
Things they got right
Streaming. I was pleasantly surprised with iflix’ streaming stability. The Philippine broadband situation is shitshow right now; however, iflix’ adaptive bit-rate streaming—video quality changes depending on the quality of bandwidth of connection—actually makes a difference. I can watch any movie in any device with almost zero hiccup. I have a 2MBps connection in my house, and it holds up pretty good. Streaming over cellular data is decent. The videos stream almost flawlessly as long as you’re on 3G or higher.
Price. iflix has an aggressive pricing of P129 per month. This is a third of the average cost of a cable monthly subscription. This is dirt cheap: a single movie rental in Apple App Store or Google Play Movies ranges between P200-P600. To put it in another perspective, if you watch re-runs of a TV show like Friends or How I Met Your Mother, you could purchase a USB hard drive to store videos. Assuming that obtaining the videos does not cost you anything, you’re out at least P 3,000 for the hard drive alone. The same amount of money can be for a 2-year iflix subscription. Again, dirt cheap.
Things they need to improve
Technology. This is where things go south. iflix has mobile and web apps; the mobile apps are, I believe, web apps wrapped with a native shell. Like most non-native mobile apps, they are buggy and kludgy.
- General navigation. The mobile app’s navigation is plagued by slow performance. For example, tapping a movie does not instantly bring you to the next screen. Additionally, pressing the back button shows the previous screen and a progress indicator at the top bar until target screen is loaded. The scrolling is not buttery smooth and doesn’t have inertial scrolling. The search experience is also something to be desired. Tapping the search icon exposes a slow, sometimes unresponsive, webpage-like experience. These are all symptoms of a web app dressed as a native app.
- Screen projection. I’ll be honest, this is the main reason why I purchased the service. Sitting back on your couch, picking up any movie and watching it on a big screen anytime of the day is very appealing to me. iflix almost got it right. It supports both Chromecast 1 & 2. I can project to any of these devices with zero issues. However, it does not support Google Cast enabled devices such us Google Nexus Player. Unlike Google Cast implementation like Spotify where it hides unsupported devices, iflix embarrassingly brings up unsupported devices in its app only to flake out when you stream the video. It does not support AirPlay. No, projecting your desktop to Apple TV doesn’t count.
Content Selection. If you are looking for fresh content, iflix is not for you. Do not expect the latest episode of Arrow or The Big Bang Theory here. However, if you enjoy watching reruns (like I do), that’s where the real value comes in. iflix is geared toward this: catching up shows you missed or binge watching an entire season of a show. The movies are also slim pickings. According to this FAQs they update their movie catalog in a weekly or monthly basis; however, I would imagine that their movie catalog, at best, is a few thousand.
Should you get it?
If you have a decent internet connection without aggressive capping you should get it. Despite my disappointments, it’s hard to say no to because of its price.