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Netflix on XBox 360 is Very Disappointing

I am a huge Xbox 360 fan.  I was one of those who stood in line on a very cold November morning to get my hands on one of the first units.  I suffered through the Red Rings of Death without complaint.  I’ve spent countless amounts on games and hardware.  So when I say something about the Xbox 360 experience is disappointing you know it must be serious.

Netflix on Xbox 360 is extremely disappointing.

It could be my fault.  Perhaps I had my expectations set too high.  I guess I fully expected to sit down at my Xbox 360, browse through Netflix’s amazing collection of movies and TV shows, click a few buttons and finally enjoy the ultimate home theater on-demand experience. Unfortunately Netflix on Xbox 360 is not that at all.

  1. The browsing experience does not take place on the Xbox 360 at all.  Instead you have to browse and make your movie selection on a PC and then wait for the Xbox 360 to sync with your Netflix Instant Queue.
  2. While browsing the Netflix Watch Instantly movies available, you will quickly find that the selection - well the selection sucks.  The currently listed New Arrivals include 2000’s Frequency, 1996’s Swingers and 1990’s Pretty Woman.
  3. No HD quality videos available as far as I can see.  You will have to settle for DVD.
  4. The delivery is actually pretty good.  Once you select a movie, it syncs to the Xbox in a matter of seconds, and you are up a and watching in under a minute.

To be fair, my disappointment is not Microsoft’s fault; unless you consider that they chose to partner with Netflix which seems like a really good idea on the surface.  Microsoft and Netflix could have done a better job of integrating the browsing experience into the Xbox Dashboard so I don’t have to bounce to a PC to select movies and them back to the Xbox to watch.

The real issue is with Netflix’s Watch Instantly selection, which they have touted on the PC for quite some time, and now on the Xbox 360.  The truth is the movies available are either very old, or films you probably haven’t heard of.

The Xbox 360 Video Marketplace on the other hand has a good selection, but you have to plan ahead as the download times ar way to long to consider “on-demand.”

Has anyone else had similar or better experiences with Xbox 360 video?

  • http://www.codehermit.com/blog/ Jeff Standen

    I’ve actually been thrilled with Netflix on my 360 and managed to remove a bunch of things from the physical DVD queue that I can stream. My tastes are pretty eclectic though — the Watch Now feature definitely has documentaries covered.

    If they offered everything, I’d probably knock my physical DVD plan down from 5-at-a-time to 2-at-a-time. I’m sure they’ll get there, since Netflix is Microsoft’s current play to make BluRay’s win irrelevant.

    For #1: Use a laptop. When you add something to the queue it updates on the screen queue automatically (it will even re-order as you drag things around in your browser).

    For #2: Try “Paranoia 1.0″, “Revolution OS”, “e-Dreams”, “The Pixar Story”, “Helvetica”, etc. If you want the latest blockbuster, add it to your physical DVD queue.

    For #3: Yeah, the HD movies you can rent from XBL for a couple bucks are nice. To be honest, with a decent movie I don’t even notice if it’s in 4:3 or 16:9 once I’m immersed.

    For #4: Yeah, and the sound is great. If your network connection slows down (aka if you use Time Warner in O.C. and it’s not midnight) then it’ll gracefully pause, adjust the stream, and resume.

    I’d call my experience better because compared to October I’m a lot better off than I was just _waiting_ for Netflix to finally jump into a reasonable VOD model. Baby steps, but much better than hooking up my laptop to the HDTV.

    -Jeff (via Twitter)

  • http://www.briandesmond.com Brian Desmond

    I completely agree on the selection thing. Regarding HD, some of the TV series they offer via XBOX are available in HD. Unfortunately while my Comcast tends to let the XBOX detect my Internet is HD capable, it usually slows down less than 5 minutes in and becomes “not-HD”.

  • Kirsten Hamstra

    I too was psyched about the announcement of Netflix and the new Xbox 360 Experience. I even was invited along with a few other hundred others to throw a houseparty (houseparty.com) to try out the new dashboard.

    Totally agree that the Netflix partnership is a disappointment. Not only does the selection stink (except for documentaries - many good ones), but the quality was average - and like you said, no HD as advertised.

    Since I just purchased a Blu-ray on Black Friday, I’d much rather spend my money on buying a real cinema experience (Have you seen Dark Knight on BR yet? AHH! Awesome).

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  • http://ratingtheman.com gm

    Did anybody really think that they were going to be able to stream HD much less 5.1, 6.1, 7.1? This does not surprise me one bit. I imagine that if they did, it would take FOREVER to dl a single movie. Sorry folks, but the infrastructure is simply not in place for this to happen. At least 5-10 yrs away, that’s why DVDs and Blue Rays still king…

  • http://timheuer.com/blog/ timheuer

    Good post. The title selection does suck, but understanding how movie rights owners distribute movies helps me at least understand this. While it’s easy to point the finger at Netflix for having a sparse instant-watch selection, and we could say they shouldn’t have launched until they had a better selection…I know that they don’t make the decisions of when movies are released to certain channels. David Pogue did an excellent job describing where/when these movies are distributed. I think this (along with music industries) need to adapt better/quicker to digital media. This mentality of how rights are distributed is still very ‘old school’ and not adapting quick enough to how we, their customers, want to use their content.

  • Gott

    So complaining for the sake of complaining are we?

    I will address your concerns:

    1. The netflix on your 360 is updated almost immediately after you add something to your instant watch que on your computer. Takes maybe 15 seconds. That too long for you to wait?

    2. The selection is same as Netflix’s Instant Watch section. Exactly the same! This is what we were told it was going to be from the start. Netflix will be adding movies to the Instant watch section as time goes on.

    3. HD is coming. You don’t just flip a magtic switch and everything appears. it takes time.

    The more i read your complaints the more you sound like a 10 yr old girl stamping her feet on the ground because she got a blue barbie car instead of the pink one she requested for christmas. Good things take time…and Microsoft just broke new ground by streaming video through their video game machine with Netflix. Be happy you even have that.

  • http://www.ckwebb.com Chris

    @Gott

    Thanks for leaving a comment, but you really missed my points entirely:

    “The netflix on your 360 is updated almost immediately after you add something to your instant watch que on your computer. Takes maybe 15 seconds. That too long for you to wait?”

    See you missed my point, which was the experience separates the browsing from the viewing - I should not need a PC at all. And I actually noted that the sync/load experience was good.

    “The selection is same as Netflix’s Instant Watch section. Exactly the same! This is what we were told it was going to be from the start. Netflix will be adding movies to the Instant watch section as time goes on.”

    Again, not my point. My point was that the Instant queue selection is not a great catalog for me personally. And as for adding movies to the Instant queue, don’t tell me that takes time. New releases could be encoded for Instant in a matter of days, weeks maybe. I’d even give you months, but most movies in the Instant queue are years old. It’s likely a licensing issue, not a technological issue.

    “HD is coming. You don’t just flip a magtic switch and everything appears. it takes time.”

    HD is here. It has been for quite some time, and other services such as Apple TV and Amazon Unbox offer it right now. I can even get HD on demand through my DirecTV DVR.

    “The more i read your complaints the more you sound like a 10 yr old girl stamping her feet on the ground because she got a blue barbie car instead of the pink one she requested for christmas. Good things take time…and Microsoft just broke new ground by streaming video through their video game machine with Netflix. Be happy you even have that.”

    Funny, but still off base. I would appreciate a Barbie as long as it was a real Barbie and not a clunky wooden doll that was just pretending to be a Barbie.

    Still, I have not canceled my Netflix subscription (the one I started to try Netflix on my Xbox 360) but will give them some time to catch up. there is certainly potential here, but it just isn’t quite there in my opinion.

  • http://www.ckwebb.com Chris

    @timheuer

    Points taken on licensing models. You are absolutely correct.

  • http://www.colordrives.com/gaming.html abhishek

    , it’s a Microsoft product. Get over it. After you spend your hard-earned $400 on the console itself (a device Microsoft will likely lose money on anyway), the software giant need never see another cent from you. But because Xbox 360 is a next-generation console with better-than-PC capabilities, the PC ports available for that system are first-rate, identical to the PC versions. Today, that’s titles like Quake 4, Call of Duty 2, and King Kong. In the future, Half-Life 2 and other titles will be added. So if you’re looking for the full experience, but don’t want a PC, and could conceivably rally around playing these games on the biggest screen in the house, Xbox 360 mighEnter Xbox 360. Yeaht just be the obvious solution.

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    netclix = FAIL!

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  • Feisty_bee

    I've had some issues but I don't know if its Netflix, the Xbox, or the internet. It's been saying the connection is too slow but it's not. Did you ever figure out how to add movies directly on the Xbox? I can add them with no problem without getting on my PC. It's been a year now so you probably got it worked out. If you know what my problem is, please let me know.

  • Davidross1979

    Totally agree with you, if there streaming selection was as good as what they have on DVD then Netflix on XBox 360 would be the most amazing thing out there, but the selection is horrible, I could live with the crappy search engine if they just increased their selection

  • Zacharyb203

    Idk about you guys but i can stream Most movies Straight from my xbox without using the computer. Maybe it was a Old xbox thing and it got patched idk. But some movies say Dvd only and That pisses me off alot.

  • jay

    I'm guessing this blog is old and not relevant any longer. But I wanted to reply anyway in case someone reads this and is questioning using it.

    I have no issues viewing netflix on the 360. No pc needed at all. It works great.

  • Ryan

    They take away features because of this new kinect BS most of the movies are movies that suck and never sniffed the theatre

  • Sb

    As Jay commented, this blog must pretty old.  The latest Xbox360 experience is much better.  The only trouble I had was only getting 2 bars on the picture quality.  I fixed this by completely removing the Netflix installation and re-installing it.  I now get full HD.   Check your broadband speed first though as it could simply be that it's not fast enough.

  • Ethan Nobles

    Old blog, but Netflix on the Xbox 360 is still disappointing. Why? Because you've got to purchase a subscription to Xbox Live Gold to get it. You don't have to pay extra on the Wii, PS3, iOS or Android devices, etc., etc.