Netflix Instant Streaming App – The PS3 Attitude Review
For far too long now, PlayStation 3 owners have had to utilize a disc in order to access their Netflix instant queue. Well, those days are finally gone, as the Netflix instant streaming app has made its way to XMB’s all across the United States and Canada. So how does this new app stack up against its disc-shaped cousin? Read on to find out.
We’re not going to lie, we always acted like using a disc was no big deal and that Netflix was still a great service. While it’s true that Netflix is an amazing company that offers a fantastic service regardless of how you use it, we always envied the gamers over on the X-Box 360 side and their streamlined application. Thankfully, we’ve lost our green tint now that the PS3 has its own app.
You can tell this app is made by the same people that made the disc-based version because it has a very similar look and feel. With that being said, it’s superior in every way. The amount of content you can see on the screen at once is much greater than before and surfing through your queue, recommendations and new arrivals has never been easier.
The new search function is also easy to use. The predictive text is usually very accurate, which means you’ll rarely have to type out the full title to find what you’re looking for. If the video you’re searching for is not available for instant streaming, Netflix now offers the ability to add the DVD version to your normal mail queue. This is also a cool new feature and we’re very impressed with how Netflix handled it. When you search for something, the mail-only videos populate at the bottom of the list and have a grayed out title, making it very easy to distinguish what is available now and what is not.
As impressed as we were by the new look of the app, we were equally impressed by how well it functions. Some of the issues that plagued the disc-based version were slow loading images and an occasionally very long wait while your selection buffered. All that is gone with this app.
Video images load very quickly regardless of what section you’re browsing, and buffering has never taken us longer than about 3 seconds. We can tell they changed the buffering style so that you get a much lower resolution when the video first starts, but we’re willing to accept that for the speedy load times. Besides, the low resolution video never lasted longer than about the first 5 seconds and that time is usually only spent watching intro credits anyway.
We also like that you still don’t have to actually select a movie to see a quick synopsis and its rating. All you have to do is highlight the video cover while browsing and a small un-intrusive window pops up to tell you the info.
Fast forwarding through a video is also as pain free as ever and has only a tiny window of delay. We’d also like to note how impressed we were with the video bookmarks. Not only does that app remember where you left off but it works across all platforms, so if you watch part of a movie on your PC, you can pick up right where you left off on your PS3 at a later time.
Picture and Sound
Perhaps the most important part of this streaming service (or any streaming service for that matter) is the video and sound quality. Full 1080p and 5.1 surround sound comes along with this new piece of software, and while it’s only available on a small number of videos, it’s still very impressive.
The video quality for HD content is absolutely fantastic and the standard definition videos aren’t bad either. Surprisingly enough, the buffer time does not increase when streaming HD content over SD content, nor does it increase for 5.1 enabled videos.
Most content still supports standard stereo sound but there is a small selection of videos that will thrust the full 5.1 surround sound experience. This is where our only complaint comes in. The 5.1 surround sound works as advertised but we noticed occasional audio hiccups with all the videos we tried that support it. It’s a very small thing and something that will likely be fixed shortly, but anyone who cares enough about 5.1 output to use it will probably notice this flaw. This issue became even smaller for us when we realized that you can switch between stereo and surround sound for the videos that support 5.1.
What we would like to see
Nothing in this world is perfect and the Netflix app is no exception. While these might not make the service any better, there are a few small things we’d like to see implemented.
First, the ability to see which titles support HD and 5.1 without having to actually select the title would be great. There is already a small drop down box that shows you a quick overview of the plot as well as the video’s rating, so why not add the HD and 5.1 logos there as well?
Admittedly, we’re a bunch of HD nerds here at PS3 Attitude, so we’d love to see the ability to search strictly for HD content, or even HD and 5.1 content. This wouldn’t necessarily take the app to a new level but we think it would be a cool addition.
We don’t want to harp too much on search functions when they’ve already gotten so much better but the option of seeing videos with only specific ratings would be pretty sweet. If you’ve used Netflix, you’re no doubt aware of all the ‘filler’ movies and TV shows that are thrown in to pad the total number of videos available. We’d love to be able to trim down what we see in the new arrivals and genre columns and keep out all of the low rated crap… or anything that involves Ashton Kutcher.
In the end, this new service is simply phenomenal. The quality of the content continues to increase, the number of functions you have at your fingertips is also escalating and the service itself is as swift and easy to use as it has ever been. For $10 a month, there’s no better streaming service out there, especially on consoles.