Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Instant Netflix

TiVo has recently added the ability to use your Netflix account. You can go onto Netflix and add things to your instant queue and then choose which ones to watch via TiVo. This is pretty much the definition of awesome. But as with most things, there are some positives and negatives to this. The big thing I saw as a positive was you have unlimited viewing of instant films. Like the other night we finished disc 2 of MI-5 season one, so rather than wait for the next disc we could just queue up the next episode on the instant queue and immediately watch it. Awesome. Which brings me to the negatives. The quality of the instant viewing pretty much blows. It might be slightly worse than analog. I know I've gotten spoiled by HD content, but after watching MI-5 from DVD (which wasn't an HD /Blu-Ray disc, just your standard DVD) and then watching an analog version of the show the difference really stood out to the point where I stopped watching it and decided to wait until the next disc arrived to watch it (the quality of the DVD is just better and with the disc I can turn on subtitles since sometimes I have trouble following what's being said).

Another negative of the instant viewing is the navigation. One of the biggest pluses of TiVo is it's ability to easily and quickly navigate within a show. These instant movies are streamed, so any change you make means it has to renegotiate with the server where it is and rebuffer within the stream. So if you back up 8 seconds sometimes the video won't appear for several seconds after you back up (or you may end up with video, but no audio, so you end up having to back up and pause, which is just annoying). Another negative related to this (and this is possibly unique to our setup) is since the movie is streamed you're at the mercy of your internet connection. To make matters worse, our TiVo has a wireless connection, and it's an old school wireless that only supports the 54 mbs rate. And since we have at least five wireless devices in the house your connection is at the mercy of any other device that wants to make use of the wireless connection. Now it is possible that it somehow adjusts the quality of the show based on your internet connection, but I haven't tested that theory.

I will admit that having the instant viewing is nice for those movies that you really would never waste a rental on. We started watching Mad Money the other night. What, you don't recall what Mad Money is? It's not the TV show with Jim Cramer, it's the movie Katie Holmes did with Queen Latifah and Diane Keaton instead of reprising her role in The Dark Knight (and now Batman is closing in on the 1 billion mark worldwide, good call Katie). Still, it's a really silly chick comedy flick that there's no way I would have ever burned a rental on, so this gets around that (don't ask me how the movie is, we didn't make it all the way through it yet). Which leads to the other bad thing. Now we might end up watching a lot more mediocre movies just because we can.

1 comment:

John said...

Well...that (to me) underscores the BIG issue with the instant viewing...that there is nothing worth downloading :) Our friend Chris has TiVo and Netflix, and we tried that this week. We couldn't find anything worth pressing play. Everything available was "eh...we COULD watch that...but really?" We ran across Rhinestone...with Sylvester Stalone and Dolly Parton...while we were trying to find a comedy.

Great idea. A long time coming. And now it will just get better, I'm sure!!