Entertainment

Streaming Movies And TV On Stan, Easier Than Netflix

A streaming video on demand service can have a massive library of movies and TV online, but just as important is actually guiding you to easily find and watch that video. For my $10 per month, the experience of actually using the just-launched Stan is every bit as good as, and in some cases even better than, Netflix.

Disclosure: Stan is co-funded by Fairfax Media, which owns Allure Media, publisher of Gizmodo Australia.

Meet Stan: Australia’s Most Ambitious Streaming Service Yet

The big thing for me is that everything is organised properly — there’s definitely more curation going on, with the Stan team clearly putting a lot of effort into showing off big-name titles like the Golden Globe-winning Transparent and Fargo in the main carousel on the iPad app and showcasing drawcard collections like the entire James Bond catalogue.

I’ve mostly been using Stan on my iPad for the last week, when I and a few other users got a sneak peek at a beta build of the iOS app and service before its public launch. When you open Stan, you’re presented with that big blue splash screen while everything loads, and then a front page split in half to show the premiere carousel, the last item you watched, and a curated list of high-profile launch titles.

That’s a big improvement on the Netflix app for me, which gives you a home page populated with several last-watched titles and your hand-picked list, of TV shows or movies you’ve seen and marked to watch later. That’s great if you know exactly what you want to watch, but for grazing through content, Stan is definitely better.

The interface more generally is really polished, too. Movie metadata is comprehensive, TV show series are easy to navigate through, and just like Netflix there’s a favourites area — called My List — where you can save content to watch later, remove it when you’re done, or keep it for good.

Video quality is more than good enough for iPad-size screen viewing, although I haven’t tried it out on a larger display — the app supports both Chromecast and Apple’s AirPlay. If you’re on a good network connection, including 4G (three or more bars should get you stutter-free HD), then Stan is easily the equal of all the other video streaming services out there like Dendy Direct or Animelab or ABC iView.

Here’s a few screenshots (compressed, obviously) of the kind of video quality you can expect from Stan. You’re also able to choose from low, medium and high quality modes, or use the automatic setting that tests your connection and chooses the best stream And, crucially, videos aren’t cropped to suit the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, so you don’t miss out on the edges of your favourite blockbuster movies or older TV shows.

A bunch of content deals means that Stan isn’t exactly short of movies or TV for you to watch, too. Today the company inked a big deal with Roadshow for The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games and plenty of other big titles, there’s an existing partnership with Sony Pictures, as well as a much more diverse catalog of older titles too.

Stan also has some big exclusives in its favour, and the biggest one has to be Better Call Saul\. I saw the first couple of episodes of the new Vince Gilligan-created Breaking Bad spin-off in a preview screening thanks to Stan, and I can tell you that it’s well worth watching whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or a complete newcomer. It’s funny, dark, well filmed and has a pretty interesting plot, at least at first viewing.

Stan Streaming Service: Australian Hands On

For the record, I watched the first four seasons of Breaking Bad, so I know the series, but wasn’t captivated by it. Better Call Saul, though, was easier to get into, there’s more than one familiar face, and it has all the gorgeous cinematography of the original. I’ll be watching Better Call Saul when it’s out on Stan come February 9th. It’s titles like that that will probably see me continue my subscription past the trial period.

When you sign up to Stan, you’ll even get a free 30-day trial, so there’s not even any obligation to actually pay unless you like what you’re seeing. [Stan]

Disclosure: Stan is co-funded by Fairfax Media, which owns Allure Media, publisher of Gizmodo Australia.


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