Archives For Netflix

Interesting. Reuters reports that the Canadian Netflix service is set to launch later this week. And will solely offer video streaming. If I’d read my email a little closer a week ago, I might  have caught this tidbit earlier (see above).

The decision to forgo physical media does seem to make good sense on a number of levels. As it would be insanely expensive and difficult to duplicate their US DVD shipping infrastructure on a national scale. Risky as well, given the Netflix brand is new to Canada and disc rentals (other than from kiosks) may be on the way out. However, Canadian pricing and digital content offerings/licensing have yet to be revealed. As we know, the US movie selection is often lacking… (via Hacking Netflix)

Microsoft isn’t expected to officially release its new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system to consumers, via new handsets, until October. But the developer tools for WP7 went final this week, and they’ve been showing off apps built for the new mobile platform left and right.

The folks behind the Seesmic social networking client for Facebook and Twitter are showing off a preview, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. The app takes advantage of the Windows Phone 7 user interface with tiles, scrolling menus, and swiping action to move between different elements. Microsoft is also showing of a demo of new Windows Phone 7 clients for Netflix (above), Twitter, Flixter, OpenTable and Travelocity.

The apps have the same basic functionality as their counterparts for iPhone, Android, and other mobile platforms. But like Seesmic, these new apps all take advantage of Windows Phone 7 UI elements. That makes the Netflix app look almost like the Zune video player for Windows Phone 7, with thumbnail icons along the right side of the Watch Instantly menu and movie genres across the top, allowing you to scroll from category to category.

This post republished from Mobiputing.

roku-appletv

Roku may be responding to competition from Sony and others (rumors of a refreshed Apple TV/iTV with Netflix streaming) with a decent price drop on their popular streamer boxes:

Add to this the fact that the Roku HD-XR is due to receive 1080p USB video playback later this year and you have an interesting story. I expect the competition to get really tough for those focusing on Netflix streaming as this will become a very common thing in hardware that does much more – especially if it does turn out to be a feature in the rumored AppleTV upgrades.

This post republished from GeekTonic.

Now that Netflix has finally brought their streaming video experience to the iPhone, it seems like a Hulu Plus versus Netflix client comparison is in order (via my 3GS). We’ll save the content selection and video quality comparison for another day, but some quickly comparable metrics are related to app launch time and battery usage. And, actually, launch time wouldn’t have been on my radar… except that Netflix comes up surprisingly slowly.

Launch Speed
On average and while on WiFi, from a cold start the Hulu app fully loads it’s first screen in about 5 seconds as opposed to the ~8s Netflix requires. On my 3G connection, Hulu came up in about 10 seconds, whereas Netflix took 18 seconds… or more. Ouch. Of course, your connections and coverage will differ from mine but the relative comparison stands: Hulu launches significantly faster.

Winner: Hulu Plus

Battery Life
For a quick and dirty battery comparison, I played the first five minutes of Arrested Development Season 3, Episode 1 in landscape mode over 3G. At whatever volume and brightness I was on, probably a bit south of 50%, both Netflix and Hulu Plus drained about 2%-3% of the battery. In even less scientific testing, I watched an entire Netflix episode of Arrested Development on the gym cardio gear and it seemed to consume a couple percent more than episodes on Hulu Plus. However, episode length is probably variable and Hulu Plus does insert commercials. So for now, I’ll say the two apps are nearly equivalent when watching shorter form content… even though Hulu Plus is probably a tad bit less taxing on battery life.

Winner: Tie

Odds & Ends
While I’ve noticed some Hulu Plus app quirks and annoyances, it’s never crashed on me. Whereas, the Netflix app has already imploded in only a short amount of usage. Additionally, over 3G Hulu Plus does a much better job keeping the video stream going. Netflix video, on the other hand, takes a longer time to spin up and introduces video pauses. I don’t know what codecs, resolutions, and bitrates these guys are utilizing, and those could certainly pay a part in the differing 3G experiences. Regardless, for the moment and ignoring content options, Hulu Plus provides the better experience.

While Netflix shifts their focus to online streaming, Comcast (?!) and Blockbuster have teamed to provide DVDs By Mail — a soon-to-be-archaic method of content distribution and quintuply befuddling given Comcast’s large data conduit into millions of customer’s homes. I assume DVDs By Mail is primarily a marketing arrangement on Comcast’s end and potentially good for Blockbuster, who has been living on borrowed time – with imminent bankruptcy proceedings? (Put a fork in ‘em.) Netflix does anticipate their DVD shipments will peak in 2013 (or sooner). So there could be a small window of opportunity to capitalize on here… although I don’t see it happening.

(via HackingNetflix)

So, when the WD TV Live Plus (~$120) was announced I made arrangements with Western Digital to take a look at a review loaner. As it turns out, my buddy Tom couldn’t wait and picked up a unit which he reviewed here. Overall, he came away relatively pleased with media streamer’s local media playback capabilities and new Netflix integration despite a few bugs we hope will be resolved with a firmware update.

But we still have to do something with my device. Which is why I shot a pair of Roku/WD TV comparison shots (below) and have been cleared to give it away. WD’s box a bit smaller and sleeker than Roku’s, and even though you don’t see component outputs, that connectivity is indeed provided via a bundled break-out cable. Wireless capabilities are also an add-on. However, you’ll need to bring your own card.

Entering the WD TV Live Plus giveaway is as easy as it gets, simply leave a comment. (US residents in the lower 48 only, please.) We’ll choose the winner at random in a few days.

Click to enlarge:

While I still don’t come close to the Comcast bandwidth cap of of 250 GB per month, I’ve noticed a significant increase in my household’s broadband usage since Roku pushed out their new Netflix UI. The new interface makes it easy to browse content by genre, and, most critically, allows users to play any selection instantly without first queuing it up on a PC. As a direct result, I’ve started watching more – the short-lived Dresden Files and the first season of Friday Night Lights, for example. Take a look at the spike on my household’s Comcast bandwidth meter. June usage already doubles May, and we’re not at the end of the month yet.

It’s worth noting that the UI upgrade didn’t arrive without problems. Right after the update, the new Netflix app crashed often; an issue the company gracefully managed by offering users an unsolicited 5% credit toward the next month’s bill. I’ve since heard a plausible if unconfirmed explanation of what caused the difficulties, namely the fact that the new guide requests a lot more data during subscriber usage, which initially put a strain on the delivery system.