Despite not (officially) accessible from Malaysia, many local consumers especially fans of movies and TV shows from United States are actually aware of US-based video on-demand services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Now, Sling TV, and many more. iflix is apparently aiming to fill in the void left by these famed US-based services with plans to unleash more than 10,000 hours’ worth of contents from all over the world.
Add that with its low subscription fee, iflix really sounds promising indeed; which is why I decided to give it a spin myself. Jump in to learn more.
This hands on with iflix is mainly based on the web version of the service, unless mentioned otherwise.
The first thing that users would see once they logged into iflix’s website is its home page. Despite looking quite busy with so many titles around, they are actually clearly labelled and categorized according to their respective genres. Apart from that, it also lists user’s last watched content, and playback history.
Other than that, iflix’s home page also provide access to the service’s menu bar on the top left side of the page as well as the iflix’s support e-mail address and search box on the top right side of the page. From iflix’s menu bar, users are also able to list movies and TV shows which are again divided into their respective genres. The iflix Kids section is accessible from the same menu bar too, together with users playlist, playback history and settings.
Each movies and TV series have their own description page which shows their synopsis, director and cast members. For movies, the description page will also highlight related contents based on users viewing habit while for TV shows, the page contains a list of episodes that are available on iflix.
On the same page, users have the ability to add movies and TV shows into their personal playlist although only the main title of the TV show can be added into it but not individual episodes. At the same time, users are also able to share what they are watching to the world via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail from the description page itself.
When it comes to video playback, iflix’s video player is still pretty bare at this moment though. Apart from basic playback and volume control buttons, options such as video quality, and video size/aspect ratio are still missing from the player when I tested the service for the past three days. This is even more apparent on iflix’s Android and iOS apps as the video player on these apps doesn’t even have any other extra options with the exception of iOS which allows users to restrict iflix app from streaming using mobile connection. –
Out of all three platform, only iOS has that particular feature so far. However, iflix’s video player for web does feature a nifty mini listing for TV shows located right next to the play button that allows users to switch from one episode to another episode or even another season easily. If you are wondering, the video playback bit rate f0r iflix is still dynamic at the moment which means that the playback’s quality is very much dependent on user’s Internet connection itself.
Another feature I hope that iflix could add in the future is the ability to return to description page or home screen without disrupting video playback. For now, users have to click on the iFlix logo on the top left side of the video player which will then halted the playback before bringing users back to the content’s description page. That being said, iflix is able to remember the point where users stop their playback which they can then resume at any time and on any devices.
Even though iflix can be enjoyed through a web browser, it is only limited to desktop browser with some requires Microsoft Silverlight to run. Users still able to browse contents through mobile web browser but no playback is allowed. Other than that, almost all contents in iflix have no subtitles at the time being except for certain Korean contents. The option to download contents for users to enjoy offline which is one of iflix’s main attraction is still not available at the moment as well.
According to iflix, users are able to register up to five devices under their account and stream contents on two devices at the same time. Both of these features don’t seem to be active at the moment though since iflix backend system didn’t register and restrict the three different devices that we used to stream contents during our test. That being said, we do noticed that iflix’s playback history does sync quite well on all of our three devices.
Content-wise, iflix didn’t publicly announced the amount of contents that the service at the moment but it seems to me that iflix most probably have around 400 to 500 titles for now according to my rough estimation. For a service that has just opened its door to public yesterday, that number seems acceptable with many of them being well-known English movies and TV shows.
However, most of the TV series on iflix are incomplete even for those that are already concluded or waiting for the new season to start. One such example is BBC’s Sherlock which is missing its Series 3 and same goes for The Big Bang Theory’s season 8. It goes without saying that iflix does need more contents in order to survive and on top of that, I also hope to see more Asian and Malaysian made contents on the service as well given the fact that iflix’s target market is Southeast Asia
In a tweet to Lowyat.NET, iflix has mentioned that the service will continue to add new contents on regular basis. Hence, I wish that iflix could consider maintaining a public log for users to easily keep track of new contents that have landed into the service as well as removal of old contents.
Meanwhile, it is rather interesting to see that iflix actually has a specialized section that are targeted for younger audience in the form of iflix Kids which is also separated from the service’s main catalogue. This should be useful for parents out there that would like to filter down the contents on iflix for their children alongside the service’s built-in parental control system.
Despite the many shortcomings that I’ve mentioned above, I still enjoyed my experience watching movies and TV shows on iflix . With its easy to use interface and highly affordable monthly subscription fee that can be as low as around RM 8 per month, the service already have some of the fundamental ingredients to make a huge mark in Malaysia.
What iflix need to do now and on continues basis is to improve its interface and features as well as to provide more contents to its eager customers out there as fast as possible. Ultimately, content is still the main factor that will determine the longevity and success of iflix in the market.