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Netflix Streaming: Device Comparisons and Frequently Asked Questions

Netflix has quickly become the best and easiest way to rent DVDs. Now it has also become one of the best ways to stream TV shows and movies to your HDTV.  This post will explain what devices are able to stream, how to setup the devices and also some basic FAQ on what each device supports in regard to video. Continue reading for a deeper look at Netflix.

1. How do I use Netflix streaming? What kind of account does it require?

You will need to sign up at Netflix.com for a paid membership.  All memberships include streaming as part of the service along with unlimited DVD rentals (pricing is based on how many dvds you can have out at one time, basic starts a 1 DVD with streaming for $8.99)

BASIC REQUIREMENT: $8.99 / month – 1 DVD out at a time unlimited rentals and Streaming (compared to Hulu’s $9.99 with just streaming and ADS, its a bargain)

This is not a bad price considering that there are NO ADS on streamed TV Shows or Movies and Netflix supports so many devices.  For more info on getting started, check out Netflix’s page.

2. What devices does Netflix streaming support? Do they require discs to stream Netflix?

Sony Playstation 3 (slim and original) – Native App for Netflix –  Go to your PS3’s XMB > Videos and click on the Netflix icon.  Download it and enjoy streaming without having to use a disc.  You do not need to be a PSN + member, all PS3 users can get the app.

Microsoft XBOX 360 (slim and original) – Native App for Netflix – Go to your XBOX’s Dashboard > Video Marketplace and download the free Netflix. HOWEVER you must be a XBOX Live Gold member to get the app!  It will install the app to your XBOX and add it to your Dashboard.  The XBOX 360 had exclusivity for about a year on the Netflix streaming without a disc for this genereations game consoles.  That has since changed as of Oct 18th, 2010.

Nintendo Wii – Native App for Netflix – Go to your Wii’s Wii Shop channel and download the Netflix app.  It will install as a Wii Channel and again will no longer require a disc to stream Netflix. It is also a free download.

PC / Windows 7 / XP MCE / Vista MCE – Media Center App or browser based playback – If your running any Windows 7 or Vista Home Premium / Prof / Ultimate or XP Media Center; you will have a native Netflix app in Media Center.  You may need to download it first within Media Center but once you do it will show up under Movies > Netflix.  You can also use any web browser to view tv shows and movies via Netflix’s website.

Mac – Browser based playback / Third-party Apps  – There is no official standalone app for Mac / OS X yet and in turn you will just use your web browser and the Netflix Watch Instantly webpage or use Boxee or XBMP apps for a more native method

iPhone / iPad / iTouch – Native App for Netflix – Go to the iTunes App Store and search for Netflix.  Install it (free) and use it to watch.

Android / Other mobile phones – No support yet – As of today, there are no native apps for these devices and the web browsers will not support it either.

Streaming Boxes / TV Sets w/web apps (ie Samsung / Sony / Vizio) – Native App – See your TV makers manual for details.

You can also just hook up your computer to your TV too and of course a high speed internet connection is also required to stream.

ALSO, you can watch on multiple devices at the same time, for example I can watch Netflix on the iPhone and my PS3 at the same time with the same Netflix account and single membership. 🙂

3. What kind of quality does each device support (video and audio)?

Quality is dependent on two things:

1. Internet connection speed (3Mbps vs 756Kbps = HD vs SD quality)

2. Limitations of devices output and HDTV (ie Wii can’t output HD so you won’t get 1080p/1080i/720p resolutions, if you tv can only do 720p, that will be the max you can get in Netflix too)

Mobile devices usually max out around 480p resolution due to screen sizes and internet speeds.  The PS3, 360, PC / MCE, and Mac options should get HD quality if you have a 3Mbps connection or better (from personal experience).

Full Dolby surround sound is in the works for the PS3 and XBOX 360 versions but has not yet been added. For now, netflix give us stereo sound and up to 1080i resolution.

Hopefully that gives people a brief overview on whats required to stream Netflix to your HDTV. Below is a quick demo of the PS3, XBOX 360 and iPad Netflix streaming apps in action. I will be adding more devices later (Win7 MCE Netflix App, iPhone)

4. The Other Part of Netflix: DVDs in the mail!!

Netflix’s success came from its DVD rental through the mail biz.  It made renting movies very cheap and easy.  With a 1 DVD membership, you get one dvd out at a time but can watch and mail back as many dvds a month as you can (ie impossible max would be 24 DVDs in a month but in reality with shipping times and turn around about 6 dvds).  Location to a main shipping facility is key too, we have a main distribution center in the Minneapolis, MN area.

The best part really is that there are no late fees. You can also change your DVD/Bluray queue from any of the fore mentioned devices and your computer.

Netflix Streaming in Action (multiple devices demoed)

(more device demos will be added later)

Playstation 3, XBOX 360 and iPad

Jimmy S
Jimmy Shttp://blogs.tech-recipes.com/jimmyselix
Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.


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