Review: Streaming Movie and TV service STAN, now live

Tomorrow’s Australia day and there’s many ways you could spend it, having a BBQ, drinks with mates, down at the beach or maybe watching movies and TV shows on...

Stan

Tomorrow’s Australia day and there’s many ways you could spend it, having a BBQ, drinks with mates, down at the beach or maybe watching movies and TV shows on STAN. One of the first major TV and Movies streaming service in Australia has just launched and you can now go signup. There’s a 30 day free trial which you will need to enter your credit card for ‘verification’ purposes. Conveniently that also means heading into the paid part of the subscription will be frictionless. If you want to try it out for now, you’ll have to set a calendar reminder and be diligent in unsubscribing in late February.

With your Stan account you can have up to 6 different devices registered at any one time. Once that limit has been reached, you can only remove and replace one device every month. This prevents you from paying once and giving access to all your friends and family. As far as supported devices go, 6 is pretty generous, given the base plans on Netflix only allow 2, and the highest plan allows 4.

The content lineup looks impressive as you browse through rows and rows of cover art. There’s TV shows like Dexter (up to season 3), Breaking Bad, Community, Doctor Who and plenty from the BBC like Louis Theroux. The problem is you very quickly realize the catalog skews hard towards shows no longer around like Party of Five. There’s some Aussie content thrown in there like Underbelly and Dumb, Drunk & Racist, but that feels much more like ticking the box than a comprehensive effort to surface locally made shows.

As far as Movies go, the story is much the same. There’s Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the rings, 21 Jump Street, plenty of James Bond and Aussie classics like Chopper. If you’re someone who likes the latest movies, this service isn’t for you, but if you love the reminiscing with movies like The Terminator, Austin Powers and Rush Hour, then you’ll fall in love with Stan.

I think it’s telling that the creators of Stan are nervous about the currency of their catalog by placing the ‘Recently Added’ category at the very bottom of the Web UI.

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In terms of device support, we’re looking at the Web, phone and tablets running Android and iOS, at this point there’s no console, Windows or Windows Phone support. To playback movies and TV shows on the web, you’ll need to make sure you have Silverlight installed. The install isn’t a difficult one, but in the era of HTML5 video, plugins feel very unnecessary. This is likely due to the management of digital rights associated with licensed content.

There are no ads in this content, so you’ll need to make your own judgments about the value proposition of paying the monthly cost of $10 for Stan. The trial is the perfect opportunity to try it out and decide.

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My List is a playlist of shows that you enjoy and you can add to this easily. Just hover over the artwork for a show and you’ll be presented with a 1 click button to add that show. Once you have, you can access it from the My List button at the top of the site. A drop down presents the option to go directly to a show in your list or review your playback history.

Stan’s maximum video quality is HD, but that’s a generic HD. There’s no statistics available in their player to let us know the bitrate and exact pixels. Stan’s help site suggests the max quality is 1080p but will dynamically adjust based on your connection speed. Judging from the quality, it’s being compressed pretty severely. You will get surround sound if the movie supports 5.1. The biggest competition at the moment is Presto, which is more expensive for both TV and Movies ($14.99) and doesn’t offer HD.

Personally there’s not a lot here for me, I find much more value in Netflix’s offering. When they launch in Australia, we’ll be closely watching how their catalog compares to what’s available here. If you want to check out Stand or sign up for the trial, head over to http://stan.com.au

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