Hands On With Netflix Downloads

Dave Zatz —  January 22, 2007

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I wasn’t one of the lucky 250,000 to receive Netflix’s new movie download service, but my buddy Matt got the hook up. Matt and I go way back and he’s always kept me current on the video game industry. As roomies in college he made sure we had 3DO and the Japanese Nintendo 64 months before US release… not to mention the Sega Saturn and the first Playstation, plus a huge Mitsubishi monitor to game on.

Anyhow, Matt’s Watch Now tab is active and he spent some time playing around with it:

It works fine — easy installation, no interruptions during the stream. Video quality is good. But the library of titles SUCKS right now (all old stuff). And uhhhhh, sitting at my desk to watch a movie… sucks too. Kinda cool overall, but I don’t see myself using this. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it better!

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Matt emailed me again the next day (after I left an urgent voicemail saying he must send pics ;) ) and mentioned the quality level provided by Netflix varies:

Funny, last night my video quality was ‘Good’. Tonight it was ‘Basic’… although it is Saturday night — prime viewing time. The drop in quality was noticeable from one to the next.

I can’t say I’m surprised by Matt’s conclusions. With the exception of those running HTPCs connected to a television (or projector), this service isn’t so appealing. Not only does Netflix keep you tethered to a PC, you also must be online at all times. I do appreciate their innovative pricing model (1 hour of viewing time per dollar spent on monthly rental service), but otherwise this (in its current form) doesn’t do much for me.

7 responses to Hands On With Netflix Downloads

  1. Couldn’t you do this on a Wii?

  2. Thanks for the link to the service. We’re good netflix customers. I went to their site when I heard about this, and read . . . nothing. “Huh” said I, “I guess they don’t offer it yet”. Now, I follow your link, sign in, and I’m ready to stream video.

    Are they holding back on this, worried that they’ll be overwhelmed?

  3. Originally, only 250,000 people were “turned on.” BUT my account is now active too. Though I did send off a few emails to Netflix demanding access. ;) I think you’re right, that Netflix may have wanted to stagger rollout to make sure they could handle the load (and to give them time to build a larger library).

  4. Dave,

    I saw your post, checked my account and I’ve got it! This combined with the Slingcatcher could be a nice combination!

  5. Tried to watch a movie on my laptop at lunchtime, and it just churned 100% CPU at the licensing prompt for 5+ minutes on my 6 Mbit home connection. I cancelled and restarted a couple of times and now it tells me that I’m already watching four simultaneous movies. Not a good start.

  6. Not compatible with Firefox :(

  7. Some people seem to think this is the next wave for the home movie industry, but I don’t know. Like your friend said, Who wants to watch movies regularly while sitting at their desk? The Blockbuter Total Access program has been perfect for me, way better than my old Netflix account. There is a post on the Compete.com blog comparing the two companies and Blockbuster’s recent surge today. Pretty interesting.

    Link: http://blog.compete.com/2007/01/24/netflix-vs-blockbuster-nflx-bbi-2006-q4-total-access/