pcmag.comOne of the advantages of video streaming services is that you can discover movies that might not have made it to mainstream audiences. This is doubly true of Mubi, with its eclectic collection of content handpicked by its curators. The service features a rotating collection of films, documentaries, and shorts, a few dozen of which you can stream at 1080p and download on mobile devices at any one time. Mubi also has several community features that facilitate film discussion and discovery. Some people may prefer the greater range of choices offered by other video streaming services, but the prospect of a curated, manageable library will certainly appeal to others.What Can I Watch on Mubi?Mubi is similar to The Criterion Channel in that it is solely dedicated to films, with none of the TV-style series available on the major streaming services. In terms of library size, Mubi only has about 30 films available to stream at any one time (the set changes every day), while The Criterion Channel sits closer to 2,000 at a time. That’s a huge difference. Mubi and The Criterion Channel differ even further in the type of films they offer. Put simply, The Criterion Channel, though it is still a niche service, manages to look mainstream in comparison to Mubi. I recognize many of the films in The Criterion Channel’s library, but only found a few familiar ones in Mubi’s collection. However, the combination of Mubi’s smaller library size and focus on under-the-radar entries most suited for film festivals may be just what some viewers want, particularly those who are tired of superhero movies and over-the-top visual effects.Mubi divides titles between its Now Playing and Library sections and classifies them with tags such as Adaptations, Brief Encounters, Debuts, First Look, The New Auteurs, Undiscovered, and Weimar Germany. The Now Playing section is Mubi’s main draw; a representative from Mubi explained that the Library section offers “a way for members to catch up on anything they missed previously or for rewatching favorites…” and that “the lineup there also differs per market.”  For an idea of the type of content you can expect on Mubi, here’s a list of all 30 films and shorts available in the Now Playing section at the time of testing: Almayer’s Folly, MS Slavic 7, The Unspeakable Act, Animal Crackers, Olla, Why Does Herr R. Run Amok, Hermia & Helena, The Blue Angel, Around the World When You Were My Age, Two Ships, The Stranger, Bird Talk, Metropolis, Crystal Swan, Last Letter, Take Me Somewhere Nice, Cassandro, The Exotico, Spies, Searching EVA, Life is a Miracle, Underground, The Man With The Golden Arm, Nosferatu, Love in the Buff, Transnistra, Carnival of Souls, The Fall, Neon Bull, Le Gai Savoir, and From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema In The Age OF The Masses. Note that the titles available to you will undoubtedly be different than the above, given Mubi’s constantly changing lineup. If you are looking to watch the most popular movies on-demand, mainstream services such as HBO Max (DC, New Line Cinema, and Warner Bros.) and Disney+ (Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars) are better options. For high-quality short films more in line with Mubi, check out Vimeo's library.Pricing and PlatformsMubi costs $10.99 per month (discounted to $95.88 if you pay for a year up front), but you can sign up for a free account if you only want to browse its film database and contribute to discussions. Mubi also offers a seven-day trial, but you must enter payment details to sign up.The Criterion Collection costs the same as Mubi at $10.99 per month, but its annual rate is slightly more expensive ($99.99 per year). Other video streaming services offer extensive libraries of movies too, though they cater to more-mainstream audiences. HBO Max costs $14.99 per month, Netflix’s Standard Plan (the minimum tier we recommend for most people) is $12.99 per month, and Hulu’s Ad-Free plan is $11.99 per month. Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ come in cheaper at $8.99 per month and $6.99 per month respectively. Horror fans don’t need to pay as much for dedicated entertainment; Shudder is only $5.99 per month.In addition to streaming via a web browser, Mubi offers apps for mobile phones (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), and Smart TVs (Sony, Samsung, Android TV, and LG). You can subscribe to Mubi as a Prime Video channel, too. Mubi does not offer an app for the Xbox One, but you can use the service on a PlayStation 4. Mubi’s Web InterfaceMubi’s web interface is simple and easy to navigate. It has a black, gray, and white color scheme that helps the film thumbnails pop. At the top of the page, there’s a search bar, a navigation menu, and an overflow menu that houses a jumble of other settings and sections. The overflow menu not only gives you access to your account, profile preferences, and help resources, but also to your watch list, viewing history, and Mubi’s Browse section. In the latter, you can dive into Mubi’s ever-expanding database of every movie imaginable, not just those in the streaming catalog. I would prefer to have some of these features pulled into the main menu for easier access.The top menu has five options: Now Showing, Library, Feed, Notebook, and a profile icon. Occasionally, you may see a section called Live; Mubi hosts free films from time to time for both subscribers and nonsubscribers. The Now Showing section organizes all of the films in Mubi’s rotating content lineup. The top section of the page showcases the film of the day (that is, the newest entry to the library), while a horizontally scrolling list below it shows hubs for different film categories and other exclusives to the service. The rest of the page lists all of the other films available for streaming along with brief descriptions. Click the More Info button on a film’s card to view all its details, including streaming resolution, runtime, language and subtitle options, a synopsis, Mubi’s editorialized take, a list of awards, and a list of cast and crew members. Associated articles from The Notebook (another Mubi section I discuss below), plus some critic and Mubi user reviews also appear on the page. Mubi’s dedication to detail is excellent, especially since it extends to films that are not even available for streaming. Mubi is much like IMDb in that way, albeit with a nicer interface. From a film’s detail page (or any thumbnail), you can add it to a custom list, your favorites, or your watch list.Mubi’s Library section includes some of the same film categories as the Now Playing page, along with some highlighted entries. Notably, one of these categories is a collection of titles from the Cannes Film Festival. A Mubi contact explained that once films run for 30 days in the Now Showing section, they move to the Library and are available to stream until Mubi’s rights expire.Make Friends With Other CinephilesMubi builds in a few community-oriented features, including the Feed and Notebook sections. The Feed is just a running list of user reviews and social media posts; it’s not particularly useful for content discovery. The Notebook section features editorial content from Mubi staff and other contributors, including reviews and commentary. Film aficionados may find some appeal in the accompanying written content.Mubi’s profile pages are its best social feature, though. Your profile page lists all of your ratings and reviews, watch list, favorites, lists, along with those you follow and people who follow you. Mubi supports custom profile and background photos. Importantly, you can make your profile private if you don’t want anyone to bother you or critique your taste in films. These community features are a good way to discover content that’s not streaming on Mubi, too. For instance, you can find user-curated lists with similar films you may enjoy. Or if you like someone’s review, you can take a look at their profile to see what else they have been watching.Mubi does not allow you create multiple viewing profiles, which is a missed opportunity. Between partners, friends, or families sharing an account, it is unlikely that everyone shares the same tastes. Multiple profiles would allow individuals to better tailor the experience.Still, most other video streaming services do not offer as many friendly features. Shudder and Sundance Now do allow user ratings and reviews, though. Anime streaming services are among the other exceptions. Crunchyroll lets you set up a similar profile and write reviews of anime series, while DC Universe has an entire section related to browsing DC heroes.Mubi’s Mobile AppI tested Mubi’s mobile app on a Google Pixel 3 running Android 10. I had no issues signing in to my account. Mubi’s Android app doesn’t have an impressive design or all the features of the web app. Incomplete is the best way I could describe its aesthetic. You navigate the experience via two icons in a bottom menu, one for the Now Showing section and one for your downloaded content. There are no options to access Mubi’s Browse or Library sections or manage your profile (you can’t even add films to your watch list). A Mubi representative confirmed that the Library section is available on the iOS app and that the feature would be coming soon to the Android version.App settings are available via the overflow icon in the lower-right corner. Here, you can view your subscription status and restrict downloads to Wi-Fi only. There are no settings for default streaming or download qualities, adjusting the subtitles, or managing your watch history. The Now Playing section functions and looks the same as it does on the web; it’s a vertical list of the available films to watch. You tap on an individual entry to view its details, begin playback, or download it. All of the information about films in the Now Playing section makes the jump to mobile, too. However, you cannot write a review for a film.To download a film, tap the download icon that appears on the details page underneath the main thumbnail. You get a choice between standard, high, and HD downloads depending on the title. Titles you download are accessible via the Your Offline Films section, but there is no way to sort downloads, which is disappointing. To get rid of a download, just tap the X next to the title. With Mubi, you get to keep downloads until up to 48 hours after they expire from Mubi’s Now playing library.I tried downloading a standard-definition version of Metropolis (289MB) and the download took 27 minutes. That seems slow, given the speed of my home Wi-Fi network (80Mbps download).Playback ExperienceMubi’s playback screen is basic but works fine. You get a play and pause button, a volume slider, a scrubbable video progress bar, and a language/subtitle toggle. That’s it. There’s no way to select or view the video playback resolution from the player. You can select a maximum video streaming resolution in the main Settings section, but I would still like the option to change or even confirm this resolution on the player. The Mubi mobile app’s playback screen has the added benefit of 15-second rewind and fast-forward buttons. One minor difference is the color of the video progress bar; on the web it’s blue, but on mobile, it’s green. Note that some older films may play in a letterboxed format.Mubi allows you to sign in on five devices at the same time, but only supports two simultaneous streams. Most other video streaming services allow you to stream on three devices at the same time. As with The Criterion Channel, Mubi does not show any ads during playback, which is ideal. Some paid services, such as CBS All Access, Hulu, and Quibi still show ads in paid tiers.I tried streaming Carnival of Souls in HD over my home Ethernet connection (200Mbps download) and encountered no buffering or streaming issues. Audio effects and dialog sounded crisp, as well. Accessibility and Parental ControlsMubi does include subtitles for its content, but there’s no way to customize them from the player. You can change the size of the subtitles (Regular or Large) in the main Settings section, but that’s the full extent of options. The Criterion Channel does not offer subtitle customization options either, but many other video streaming services, including BritBox, offer far more options. Although we wouldn’t necessarily expect it for movie streaming services, Mubi does not include Audio Descriptions. Audio Descriptions are audible narrations of scene changes that would not be otherwise discernible through the regular dialog. Apple TV+, Netflix, and Prime Video all support audio descriptions.The available subtitle language depends on the film. Some international films are not available in English, so you may need to rely on subtitles quite a bit if you are not multilingual. You can manually set your default language in the main Settings section. Apple TV+ is also particularly good about offering content in many languages, with the added benefit of letting you select a language for subtitles directly from the playback screen. Mubi does not include any parental control tools, nor does it list the parental ratings for any of its content. A representative from Mubi explained that the service is for an adult audience. Some parents might want the option to block or only allow specific films, so we would like to see some option to accommodate that scenario. The Criterion Channel also neglects to include parental control options. Parental controls are common with mainstream services, including HBO Max, Disney+, and Netflix.Mubi and VPNA VPN is an excellent tool for protecting your privacy online from the ever-present eyes of advertisers, your ISP, and the government. VPNs can also help you spoof your location online. This is a problem for some video streaming services if some content is region-specific. As such, many video streaming services attempt to block VPN traffic outright.Mubi is available in 195 countries, but it does not offer the same titles for streaming in all locations. I tried to stream Mubi content while connected to both US- and Spain-based Mullvad VPN servers. I had inconsistent success with streaming. Even if you do find a VPN that works with all of your video streaming services, there’s no guarantee that the two will continue to coexist peacefully.Mubi combines many aspects typically associated with film communities—lesser-known titles, discussions, and an extensive collection of information—into a single service. In that regard, Mubi is impressive, if expensive for the tiny number of films it offers at a time. We also like the support for offline downloads and 1080p streaming. However, we'd like Mubi to add support for multiple profiles and more closed captioning options.Netflix remains our top pick for on-demand video streaming services because of its top-notch original content and feature-filled apps. Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV are our top picks for live TV streaming; both boast excellent channel lineups and useful DVR capabilities. Mubi Specs Starting Price $11.99 per month Concurrent Streams 2 Live TV No On-Demand Movies and TV Shows Yes Original Programming No Anime No Ads No Offline Downloads on Mobile Yes Best Video Streaming Service Picks Further Reading

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