Thursday, January 8, 2009

Netflix on the Xbox 360

I configured my Xbox 360 to stream movies from Netflix just before Christmas and I have to say it is very cool. The Xbox adds another slide to your Video Marketplace screen that allows you to view all the movies you placed in your digital queue.

You have to add the movies to your digital queue online and keep them there as long as you want access to them. Once movies are added you can search through all of them on the Xbox; you can view the summaries, ratings, etc. - all the information you would normally find on Netflix, but on your home TV!

I have the 360 hooked up to the internet via the wireless adapter. Normally, when you first hit play on the movie of your choice, the system detects your bandwidth and then plays the movie based on the maximum quality your bandwidth can handle. The only problem I found was that the movie never seemed to buffer, so when my bandwidth would fall temporarily, the movie would pause and Netflix would lower the video playback quality.

Lowering the video playback quality is a horrible idea because it makes the movie so grainy that no one can enjoy the movie. This along with the limited number of movies available for instant download are the only real downsides to having the service. I also half expect both of these features to become less of a problem over time.

Now I just need to figure out how to get Hulu and Youtube on the 360 and I will be set!

Here are the simple steps for setting up Netflix on your Xbox 360:

1. You have to have an Xbox Live Gold membership. If you pay for the full year in advanced, you get 13 months for $50.
2. You need to have a Netflix membership. The cheapest one is around $9/month where you get 1 movie at a time and unlimited instant downloads.
3. Then go to Xbox.com, register your device for Netflix, download the software and then activate your Netflix subscription so the streaming starts!

Have fun!

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