Available Platforms: Quickflix Website, Playstation 3, Sony Bravia TV’s and Bluray players.
Accessed: Playstation 3.

The Service
Quickflix, a mail delivery DVD rental service, has recently launched an online streaming service for connected televisions. For a monthly subscription charge, customers can access an all you can eat library of movies. In an interview with me, Quickflix CEO Chris Taylor advised that the service will also include Pay Per View titles in the future. Customers can also bundle the DVD rental service in with their streaming service through a number of packages.

Currently 274 films are available to stream through the service.

The Content
It is still early days for this service. The Quickflix streaming service launched just 2 months ago and have continued to add to the library during that time. While there are currently 274 films in the library, that number will increase. So far there have not been any TV shows added to the service, but a recent deal to add HBO content and another signed with NBC Universal should deliver TV to the platform in the near future.

The titles themselves aren’t bad, but they’re not wildly exciting either. The bulk of the films are catalogue titles that are not entirely dissimilar to the titles released when DVD first launched in Australia. A deal with Warner Bros has yielded many good titles, but early DVD adopters will remember Warner Bros as a company that embraced DVD early and released many of these same titles during those early days. Among the Quickflix library are films like Stripes, Police Academy, The Wedding Singer, Beetlejuice, Lethal Weapon(s) 1-3, The Net, The Fugitive, Tootsie, Wild Things, and The Last Starfighter. I was pretty pleased to find The Exorcist, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Husbands & Wives, Mean Streets, and Richard Pryor: Here and Now among the titles.

The most recent film title in the library is a Woody Allen-knock-off directed by How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor called Happy Thankyou More Please. Australian films are scarce in the library. The only two I could find were Cane Toads: The Conquest, and Mad Max.

Quickflix also offer an additional content section with News & Gossip. These are short 2 minute red carpet and press interviews with film talent, along with film reviews by Ruby Rose and Shaun Malseed. Neither seem particularly skilled interviewers, nor are either of them all that incisive with their reviews. It seems impossible to comprehend, but Malseed is even more dopey than Rose. His opening question to the guys from The Inbetweeners: “Was it as much fun as it was to watch?”.

Text ‘news’ pieces are also available. Paragraphs of text. On your television. Ugh.

The Design/Function
The visual look of Quickflix is inelegant. And by inelegant, I’m trying to be polite and not use words like cheap, ugly, and haphazard.

The front page Main Menu takes the user to ‘News & Gossip’, Join, Terms & Conditions, Help, PS3 Controls, Search (enabling users to search for films by the film Title, Director, or Actors), and Filtering (by genre and distributor). While it’s easy enough to navigate through all of that, it’s cumbersome clicking through multiple screens just to see the movie library – the one reason why a user would regularly fire up the service. The site architecture is clear enough, but it still seems ill-thought out.

The actual library collection could use a re-think. Currently films are organised purely in a left to right scrolling numerical/alphabetical order with 12 films to a screen. While this limits the number of films one can browse through at a time, the order will also feel stagnant very quickly. For example, the first film will forever be 18 Again (the ‘classic’ George Burns/Charlie Schlatter body swap ‘comedy’). Or at least will until Quickflix get the rights to stream the Zac Efrom classic 17 Again.

Some bad data also exists in the library. I noticed that the Andy Warhol-produced 1978 film Heat had a front page synopsis for the excellent Michael Mann film of the same name.

Graphically, everything looks poorly rendered and just slapped together. Images all seem very low-res.

The most important aspect of the service is how the films look themselves. And unfortunately, the results are not good. From the selection of films I sampled, the resolution feels somewhere between that of VHS and DVD (tipping toward the VHS end of the scale). I understand that with Australian data plans not being as generous as they could be, that Quickflix want to ensure its customer-base are able to use the service without costly fata charges or shaping, but for there are more than enough plans at a reasonable price which will allow people to download enough data to deal with the demands of Quickflix quite easily.

High Definition isn’t just a niche novelty. It’s expected. Heck, even DVD quality would be palatable.

Also, there is NO EXCUSE for finding a watermark on any of the films. I’ve encountered one so far on The Fugitive for WarnerTV and couldn’t believe my eyes.

The Verdict
As someone who has played with other streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Mubi, and countless others, it is quickly apparent which feel fully realised and which have limited potential. Quickflix is far from being a premium service.

Quickflix may well have signed some reasonable content deals, but it still feels very ghetto. The visual look and design is so poorly conceived and executed that it makes the entire service just ooze of awfulness. The UI is awkward to navigate around, the films stream at such a low quality as to almost render the films unwatchable, and it’s saddled with generic nonsense like the Ruby Rose/Shaun Malseed claptrap.

As much as I wanted to see Quickflix succeed, it is really difficult to even recommend that people try out the service. Quickflix are not offering an innovative service, nor is it one that is essential to anyones viewing habits. Within months, there will be much better alternatives out there for those who want a legal online access point for their movie and TV consumption. I suggest you hold out for those and give this a big miss.