My family has been a subscriber to the NetFlix service for almost three years now. I was angry when they talked about killing profiles and I rejoiced when they changed their minds. Yes, I've been a fan of the NetFlix for quite some time.
It is only recently that I acquired an Xbox360 for my home entertainment use. I acquired this device before the new dashboard was released in November 2008 that integrated NetFlix seamlessly into the Xbox360 experience. Prior to that there existed a sometimes clunky plugin that used a Media Center PC as a conduit to stream NetFlix movies to the 360. I had that plugin working at one point but after a failed attempt to sync a different Vista machine to the 360 I was never able to get it to work properly again.
The plugin did offer the awesome ability to modify your queue right from the couch. Updating the queue was nowhere near as easy or user friendly as using your computer but it was doable. That feature did not make its way into the new Xbox Experience.
Though you can not add movies to your NetFlix Watch Instantly queue from the comfort of your couch using the 360 you can remove items you have watched as well as rate them. The 360 also provides for the synopsis information to be displayed as you look at each title.
Losing a feature that never worked all that well for me is not that bad. Getting something that just works is awesome.
Using the NetFlix viewer through the 360 is not as simple as having a NetFlix account, You also have to have a Gold Live account as well. The price of Gold service is not that expensive and if you do a lot of multi-player online gaming you probably already have a Gold account.
When it comes to video quality there are multiple things you need to take into consideration:
1. Not all content is available in HD.
2. The speed of your broadband will effect the quality of your service.
3. If you don't have the Media Center remote you will want to buy it now!
If you have a 360 odds are you also have an HDTV hooked up to it. To use a 360 on a standard def TV will only lead to mental pain and anguish.
Not all NetFlix Watch Instantly content is available in HD. In fact you may not even know it is available in HD until you start to stream it and see the little HD logo appear on screen.
For example: I recently added the TV show The Office to my queue. I didn't know that it was HD but as soon as the first episode queued up I saw the little HD logo appear.
I'm not going to go into just how good the HD quality is because that is heavily dependent on the quality of your network connection. What I will say is that watching it on a 10MB cable modem connection there was still one bar that was not green and I experienced no problems while watching the show. I imagine that if I had a faster connection all of those bars would have been green.
Most of the content you watch will be standard def. I know it might sound painful to watch SD content on your HD set but the 360 does a decent job of upscaling the content.
Unlike HD you don't need to have nearly the high end network connection to enjoy SD content. I do not suggest using anything lower than a 1.5Mbs DSL line for watching SD content. Even with that speed I suggest turning the rest of your Internet connected devices off while watching a movie.
Why do I say this? I say this because there have been times while I watched content over a 1.5Mbs DSL line when the movie would stop and the 360 would adjust the link to a lower speed due to problems with the connection.
Generally the 1.5Mbs DSL will give you one or two green bars when it syncs up. If you only get one bar don't bother watching. The picture will be too blocky and the subtitles (if you use them) will be unreadable.
If you have a 360 and NetFlix you are probably already using your 360 to stream NetFlix to your TV. If you have a 360 but not NetFlix all I can say is, "what are you waiting for?" New content is constantly being added to the NetFlix streaming service, especially TV shows.
I don't know about you but the only DVDs I still buy today are TV show box sets. Granted you will not get access to the bonus features via NetFlix but if you only missed a show here and there what better way to catch up?
If you have NetFlix but do not own a 360 I'm not going to tell you to drop $200+ getting one. There are numerous other options out there for streaming NetFlix to your TV. I have even heard that LG is planning to add NetFlix to their HDTVs. How cool is that?
The bottom line is that the NetFlix streaming service is awesome and you still get the DVDs in the mail for things you can not stream. How can you beat that?