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Hands-on: Netflix on PS3


Many Netflix subscribers will find a rather inconspicuous red envelope in the mail today. It may look like a standard Netflix package, but inside PS3 owners will discover the "Instant Streaming Disc" which enables Netflix's instant streaming service on Sony's console.

We've embedded a video overview of the service above. We'll admit that there are a few qualms with the presentation so far. First, the activation process is slow and requires the use of a computer -- there is no way to activate Netflix directly from the PS3. (You won't be able to use the PS3 internet browser for activation purposes either.) Second, the loading of cover art is suspiciously slow. Finally, there is no way to directly manage your Queue from the interface. While you'll be able to browse various categories, there is no Search capability. One benefit the PS3 has over the 360 in this regard is the built-in browser. You will be able to use the PS3's internet browser to manage your Queue. It's a baffling additional step, but it certainly is an added convenience. (ProTip: Use SELECT to add a bookmark to your PS3 internet browser.)

While the previous video we posted suggested otherwise, we can confirm that HD video works on PS3, and it works well. In fact, it's a bit faster than watching SD content, simply because you won't have to wait for the PS3 to switch between resolution modes. When browsing your queue, look for a tiny HD icon at the bottom of the screen to see if it will play in high-def. (The selection can be quite limited.) When judging the overall experience, however, we'd say starting movies required a longer buffer than when using the service on the 360 or PC. Netflix is a terrific value-add for the PlayStation 3, but minor interface issues make it clear that there's a lot of room for improvement -- perhaps when Netflix becomes a standard built-in feature of the OS next year?

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