Netflix PS3 Walkthrough/Review


Ah yes, another Netflix article! The 360 has had Netflix integration since November of last year, and it was very limited in terms of capabilities. Now the PS3 and the 360 offer about the same service, but with the PS3′s online service being free, there’s no prerequisites like having to be a Gold member. Ever since then, though, I had always hoped the PS3 would get Netflix integration as well. Though it’s not integrated into the XMB (yet), Netflix finally made it to the console.

The above video is a walkthrough of Netflix on PS3. On my previous video, I was comparing the time it took to load up certain aspects of Netflix on both the 360 and PS3, which had very similar results.

This time around, it’s basically a complete walkthrough of Netflix on PS3, including what you can do in the browser. I also fixed my autofocus, so it doesn’t constantly get blurry, which helps a lot, but the picture quality isn’t all that great :/. I’ll get an actual camcorder one of these days! Anyway, onto the review itself.

For starters, the one downside is really just having to use a disc to watch the instant streaming movies. It’s no big deal, since you do the same to watch Blu-Rays and other DVDs, as well as play games. Integration will be nice, though. You may also want to keep track of where the disc’s sleeve is, since they send them out in the same kind of packaging as their regular DVDs and Blu-Rays (with different markings, such as the PS3 logo, etc.).

As far as managing your lists on the PS3 web browser, it is possible, just a little limited. You can’t use any of the drop down menus, so you can’t really choose a specific genre, but the most popular ones will show up on either the Browse DVDs or Watch Instantly pages. From there, you can browse through those and add movies like that. To add movies to the Instant Queue, you first have to open the movie’s page, since the drop down for the “Play” button doesn’t show. on that screen, the “Add to Instant Queue” will be available. You can also search by title on in the search field if you have a specific movie you want to watch and/or rent. For more options and browsing capabilities, nothing will beat the PC, though. Hopefully Netflix will have a PS3 portal on their website in the future to make the other options available.

Loading up the disc is relatively quick, though, it takes about the same amount of time to go from system boot to the program being loaded up on both the 360 and PS3. The disc does take a while longer to load, but the 360 takes a while longer to boot up, so it comes to about even. The disc itself enables BD Live functionality to access the streaming. On initial use, you must enter in the code the disc will give you onto Netflix’s website, and they will pair up with one another and the disc will automatically recognize it so you can start streaming after it’s been enabled (this is standard for all Netflix-enabled devices).

After the disc loads, the main menu will then have lists, such as “Instant Queue”, “Recently Watched”, “Comedies”, etc. On the genre-specific lists, they only show up to 100 titles in each (as well as “Newly Available” lists), even if, say, there are over 100 titles available to stream (in which case, your best bet would be to search through the list in the browser or on a PC to see titles that aren’t listed in the disc’s list). One suggestion I would give would be to build a list on the site first.

As far as movie selection goes, there are 1000s of titles you can instantly stream, which is great and leaves for a LOT of options. And they’re adding more movies all the time. Browsing through the lists may seem a bit sluggish at first as well, but you get used to it pretty quick. On occasion, though, while going through titles in the list, it may start back at the beginning of the list for no apparent reason, which is an annoyance. Anyways, if you’ve rated enough movies, other movies will give you ratings based on your preferences, which is what will show when you select a movie and it brings you to the synopsis screen. If you’ve already seen the movie, you can rate it in there as well. Some movies also have an HD stream (a little icon will show near the MPAA rating under the synopsis), which has an amazingly clear picture for streamed media. For some reason, I haven’t been able to see HD streams available through PC, though, which is weird.

As for movie playback, depending on your connection, it takes roughly 20-40 seconds to load up a video, whether it’s Standard of High Definition. One issue folks have is with standard definition videos is they cause the PS3 to send a signal to the TV letting it know that it’s 480i/p and that it should be a 4:3 picture, so the TV will automatically adjust the picture settings to 4:3 (which squishes the picture), so make sure your TV’s settings aren’t automatic and you force 16:9 in the settings. This will disable the automatic aspect ratio adjustment and bypassing the issue.

For picture quality, this solely depends on your connection. For SD streams, if you’ve got a relatively slow connection, or you’re trying to watch movies on a cable connection during peak hours, you could potentially get a bit of artifact issues going on. Wireless connections can also cause similar issues if the strength isn’t that high, so be warned there. I have a good, fast, stable, wired DSL connection, so my streams are always DVD quality for SD and crystal clear on HD. I switched to wired because my wireless connection isn’t that strong and it caused a couple loading and artifact issues there, so I know from experience.

For HD pictures, like I said, the quality is immensely better than SD. This causes movies to have a slightly higher loading time, but it’s definitely worth it. Of course, if your connection is a little slower, the video might have to be buffered every once in a while, which is kind of annoying. Once I switched to the wired connection, I don’t have that problem any more, though.

If you skip through the movie, and it goes back to video playback after pressing play, you may get a few artifacts showing up for a couple seconds, but they soon go away and the picture becomes clear again, as shown in the video above. Other than that, the picture quality is nearly perfect, and for those of you who switched from PlayOn to the Netflix disc will agree that the picture quality is heaps better than PlayOn’s quality. If you have a good connection, you definitely won’t be disappointed with the quality at all.

Also of note, if you have movies on your instant queue that aren’t available any more, on the website’s Instant Queue list, it will be labeled under the “Save” option, so it’s saved to the list in case it becomes available again, or you can just remove it from there. I usually just remove it, but if it’s a movie you really like, go ahead and keep it “Saved” in case it becomes available again.

Review

ProsCons
Excellent picture quality
1000s of titles
Ability to manage Queues on browser
Relatively quick loading times
Limited browser capabilities
Slower connections will reduce image quality
Uses physical disc
List browsing will sometimes go back to the beginning of the list
Rating
95%

Written by: Jay - Community Manager / Editor-In-Chief


  1. #1 by hobbes on November 11th, 2009

    i have a roku, the ps3 does a really good job in comparison, i’ll be interested to see the improvements once it becomes part of the xmb.

  2. #2 by JimmyMagnum on November 11th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    I’m sure one would be cutting loading time it takes to bring up the program by at least half, which would be great!

  3. #3 by JimmyStewart on November 12th, 2009 [ 710 Points ]

    Yeah, in comparison to the heavy 360 Netflix useage I had I’m really having trouble adjusting. Now that we have the PS3 disc in the bedroom, I’ve been trying to use that. And some of it I really like. I actually REALLY dig the PS3 layout more and more. I think it needs a bit more polish, but for now I think I prefer it to the 360 interface.

    BUT I’m already tempted to bring the 360 memory card back for our bedroom movie watching. All of the menu access is very slow and waiting for info and images to load is WAY too long for me. On the 360 I don’t recall any lag like this. I’ll literally spend 20-30 seconds waiting for the initial batch of selections to appear.

    Also I love the bluetooth remote but the buttons make Netflix almost unuseable. I was trying to browse through the recent releases and saw that 30 second bunny show, so I thought I’d plow through some of them to try out the PS3. After the first episode I was spit back to the beginning of Netflix… which meant I had to spend another couple minutes trying to track down the show. I started that up, forgetting that selecting the episodes isn’t something that you do automatically. On the 360 watching a show will immediately bring up a list of the episodes and select the episode you want and go from their, on the PS3 it seems you select the show… and then you can navigate to episodes where it’ll open up a seperate window where you’ll pick what episode you want which will return you to the show again where you have to tell it to play. On the 360 I powered through shows with a few button presses… on the PS3 I’m going from screen to screen to try and set it all up. Maybe it’s because I usually use Netflix to go to sleep, but it needs some work. And continuing on the buttons, I’m still struggling to figure out how to get things to work how I want them. For example when I show is over I want to go back to that show to select the next episode by default. Most of the time I can do this if I hit the “pop-up menu” button… but I had to spend a good 30 minutes trying each button to figure that out. On the 360 you only have the option of backing out of the show. On the PS3 more often than not I end up at the Netflix main menu, and in some cases I’ll shut down Netflix completely (hitting the circle button to ‘back out’).

    I’m really hoping they iron this stuff out when it’s a download. Right now it really feels like a very early beta. It works, but it’s pretty sluggish, slow and it doesn’t feel that user friendly.

  4. #4 by Watcher on November 12th, 2009

    Hey guys, I haven’t received my disc yet, hopefully it will arrive today. How stable is the streaming when watching a movie on the PS3?

    I really hate using the PSN movie store due to the fact that the streaming was always pretty bad. Every movie I ordered had constant playback delay issues and it had to buffer every 30 seconds. It made the streaming option practically worthless. The only alternative is to download the entire movie, but that took anywhere from a hour to an hour and a half to complete.

    I have a great cable connection. I don’t have any issues watching Netflix movies on my PC, or browsing the net on my PS3. I tend to always have download issues via PSN so I wanted to get an idea on what to expect with Netflix’s playback performance on the PS3.

    I noticed some delays in playback for the movie in this video. I would like to know if that is to be expected.

    Thanks

    • #5 by Tosh on November 12th, 2009 [ 1102 Points ]

      When I rent movies off the PSN I let it download for about 20 – 30 mins (Usually just catch up on a Colbert Report). Then I start watching it, I’ve never had it buffer. But I just rent SD titles. So I can’t comment on the HD.

      You could try signing out of the PSN after the download as started. The download will continue though.

  5. #6 by Watcher on November 12th, 2009

    Hey Tosh, I tried that with the last movie I ordered. I started watching the movie about 25 minutes after the start of the download and the download was able to stay ahead of the playback.

    The thing is I don’t want to have to do that every time I want to watch a movie, especially if I have visitors over. Now that I’m dabbling with Netflix, I would like to know how playback performs on the PS3.

  6. #7 by JimmyMagnum on November 12th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    @JimmyStewart:
    yeah, browsing is a little slow, but I blame that on BD Live itself, since, IMO, it’s always been a bit laggy on that front anyway. As far as TV shows go, even though it doesn’t bring up the list automatically (forgot about this while doing the video), you just have to press the down button a couple times after getting to the synopsis screen, but it’s not that big of a deal IMO. Could it be better? Yes, but at least, for a first time attempt, it’s better than the 360′s capabilities when they first got Netflix. Also, in time comparison between initial system startup and selection loading, it comes to about even on both consoles due to the 360′s slow initial system boot, so it’s not too bad there either. Only time that would be a factor is if you kept both systems on 24/7 and never perform a system boot, thus only relying on the Netflix boot for comparison. In my last video, despite the slow load time for the disc, due to the PS3′s far faster boot compared to the 360s, the 360 may have had a 20 second advantage loading netflix, but if you include system boot times, quickly going from startup to video playback took both consoles 1:45 to start playing a movie, and that’s because it takes the 360 20 seconds longer to start the system up compared to PS3.

    @Watcher:
    PSN store downloads are meant to be physical files that save onto the HDD, they aren’t meant for streaming, though, it does give you the option to watch while it’s downloading. As far as Netflix goes, all it does is a load and buffer, which from selecting the movie to actual video playback is about 35 seconds, and if you’ve got a good connection, that’s the only time you need to worry about any buffering unless you fast forward through the video, in which case it has to buffer the scene you skipped to, which, since the movie already started, takes about 5 seconds or so, if that. The picture quality is great, though, and looks better than using Netflix on the PC

  7. #8 by Watcher on November 12th, 2009

    Thanks JM,

    My greatest concern was with normal playback. I don’t mind the buffering when I FF. I expect that the Netflix stream would need to catch up.
    I’m pleased to know that I won’t have to worry about buffering on playback while I’m watching a movie from the begining without FF. It’s a real plus to hear that’s video quality on my HD-TV will be better than the quality on my PC. I can’t wait to recieve my disc!

  8. #9 by JimmyMagnum on November 12th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    No problem! one thing to keep in mind is that if your TV automatically adjusts the aspect ratio (I pointed this out in the review) it will “squish” the screen, so you’ll want to manually make your TV output in 16:9!

    Also, if your connection happens to slow down quite a bit, that could cause some streaming issues there and make the video have to rebuffer, but if you’ve got a good connection, you shouldn’t have to worry about it

  9. #10 by Watcher on November 12th, 2009

    Understood. My TV has been set to 16:9 in order to take full advantage of theater displaying defaults. I declared TV formatted movie display evil some time ago. :-)

    I have Optimum Online as my broadband carrier and they tend to provide great service 95% of the time. All of my download issues are tied to downloading movies, or game content via PSN. Ironically, my PSN connection for multiplayer or Home works fine.

    I agree that movies available through the PSN really designed to function after a significant portion of the movie is downloaded to the PS3.

    Thanks again.

  10. #11 by David on November 13th, 2009

    So, I got my disc tonight. I can definitely say I’ll be canceling my trial subscription.

    1. Yes, there may be “thousands” of titles to stream. It’s just a shame I don’t enjoy watching monster movies from the 50′s. I would say I had not even heard of 60% of the movies offered from the disc. Yes, I could go online and make up a list from my PC, but why not just watch it from the PC while I’m at it?

    2. Buffer-mania. I have, what I consider, a decent Internet connection (8Mbps down). I tried to watch an episode of 30 Rock first. Yay, it’s in HD! Well, this turned out to be quite the let down. It buffered for about 45 seconds, played for 45 seconds, buffered for 45 seconds, etc. Sooo, I figured I would try an SD version of something. A little better result, but a less than TV quality Forrest Gump.

    Yes, it’s in its early stages, but you would think they would learn a lesson or two from the 360 and not expect us to compare it to the early days of Netflix streaming. Not worth it in my opinion.

  11. #12 by JimmyMagnum on November 13th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the service. As far as Point 1, the streaming service on PS3 usually gets you better picture quality as opposed to streaming on your PC. Plus, with the 1000s of titles, there could be plenty of hidden gems you’re missing but not giving the chance :P.

    2. Sounds like your internet connection to the PS3 isn’t too hot. HD feeds take, for me anyway, about 35 seconds and don’t have any buffering after that. SD gets me DVD quality picture, and since you say the quality you get is less than TV-quality, that’s due to connection speed as well.

    Are you connected wirelessly or through ethernet? I had a somewhat low signal to my wireless router and it affected playback, so I switched to a wired connection and haven’t had issues since. And that connection is going through two routers (a Linksys and a Belkin). Also, does your ISP have bandwidth restrictions? Usually bandwidth restrictions are set by some cable internet providers.

    To find out the speed your PS3 is getting, run a connection test in network settings and it will tell you your upload and download speeds through the PS3, which could be well lower than the 8Mbps you’re signed up for. In any case, the playback issues are definitely connection speed related.

    Also, I was comparing PS3′s streaming to 360′s original Netflix service. There’s no real need to compare Netflix with the 360 now as they are about exactly the same, except the 360 has integrated Netflix and a party watch feature. Just used the older setup to compare first attempts.

  12. #13 by Boognish on November 14th, 2009

    I tried this last night too, and had similar problems to David. The movie would start, but then would stop and buffer every minute or so. Needless to say, we didn’t make it through the movie. And yes, I’m using wireless. Does anyone know if you can “save up” time by letting a movie load for a little while before you play it, so that you don’t catch up to it?

    Also, I get my internet through Clearwire, which is a wireless broadband service to begin with. I don’t think attaching a cable from my wireless modem to my PS3 will make any difference, tbh. Any advice on how to make it work?

  13. #14 by JimmyMagnum on November 14th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    yeah, being able to choose a certain percentage to buffer before playback would be great. Even the 360 (and other devices) don’t have that option unfortunately :( would be nice to add that in there as one though.

    Also, using an ethernet connection could potentially make the connection speed quite a bit better and improve the buffering time, but with Satellite connection (like it sounds like you have, not familiar with Clearwire), it might not be enough. Could be worth a shot though.

  14. #15 by sneaks on November 16th, 2009

    I just downloaded playon sometime last night, and I have tried accessing netflix and it has to buffer about every 3 seconds…is this something I will have to worry about with the netflix disc?

  15. #16 by JimmyMagnum on November 16th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    a lot of people say with PlayOn, it’s hit or miss. Sometimes it works good, other times it doesn’t. As far as the streaming disc goes, that’s all going to depend on connection speed to the PS3 and any firewalls you may have, but it should definitely run better and smoother than what you would get with PlayOn

  16. #17 by Watcher on November 17th, 2009

    I finally got my PS3 disc yesterday and I gave it a run. The activation was straight forward and the playback was great. I didn’t even see a lag between movie selections once the screen came up.

    The playback process was a lot smoother than I thought and FF or Rew from the films I watched took a few seconds before it started playing again. The picture quality was good as well. I noticed that there is a bit of a lag in response time when you hit the pause button, which makes sense.

    All in all I’m quite happy with the service. For those of you who are experiencing constant buffering on playback, I’m positive it has a lot to do with your connection speed.

    I should also mention that my PS3 is connected wirelessly to my router, which are both in the same room, but in the opposite corners of that room.

  17. #18 by nuxsoonkau on November 25th, 2009

    In your review you say that to optimize picture you force your reciever to outpuy 1080….i need to do the same cause some SD movies drop to 720….how do you do this/what are the settings i need to change….pls help…just fyi i have a Denon reviever…hope this wll still work

  18. #19 by JimmyMagnum on November 25th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    well, I never said it optimizes my picture, but it just forces 1080P. As far as the receiver forcing the output, that depends on the model and its features. Do you have a 1080P receiver (it sounds like you do)? Mine is an Onkyo and has a GUI that shows up on the TV through the HDMI port, so it makes it a lot easier,

    Usually what you want to do is go through your manual and see if it says anything about passing through the signal as-is or of it has the option to upscale for you.

    Now, if you’re talking about it going back to 720P, is it squeezing the picture? In which case, you’ll want to force the TV to output in 16×9. That, too, is dependent on model and brand, so you’ll need to check your TV manual for that. I have a Samsung and on the remote is a “P. Size” button that I can press that will change the aspect ratio.

    Basically what you’re going to be dealing with is resolution on the receiver and aspect ratio on the TV. As far as the resolution, here’s Denon’s support site, since they would know a lot more than me since I’m pretty much only familiar with my Onkyo lol:

    http://denon.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/denon.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php?p_sid=_8qFPTNj

    THere is also a contact page under the support tab as well

  19. #20 by yodaddy on December 13th, 2009

    all I can say is Dexter is the bomb… If you guys have not watched it…. you should

  20. #21 by netflixlover on October 23rd, 2010

    Netflix could be the next killer stock. Don’t just watch it, buy NFLX.

    http://abetterwaytotradestocks.blogspot.com/2010/09/nflx-next-megakiller-stock.html

  21. #22 by Teresa on November 28th, 2010

    I’m intensely disappointed. I dont have the best internet connection so my movies spend more time “retrieving” than playing..and I don’t have the patience for it… If I pause it will it buffer? I doubt it..but if they don’t come up with something I’m cancelling my membership.


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