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Netflix on PS3 goes disc-free, gets 1080p streaming and 5.1 surround sound (update)

Rejoice, PS3 owners, your Netflix streaming experience just got vastly better than anything else on the market. Starting October 18 Netflix on the PS3 will no longer require a disc, and it'll stream some content with 1080i 1080p resolution and / or 5.1-channel surround audio, while everyone else will be stuck with a max of 720p stereo for the time being. Oh, and you'll get subtitles on some content as well. Netflix is partnering with Dolby on the audio side, and the surround format will be Dolby Digital Plus, which is the same codec used by the VUDU HDX streaming service -- we're guessing it'll require a tiny bit more bandwidth but the results should sound pretty great. Netflix says 5.1 will come to other platforms "over time," so we'll see how long that takes -- and given that the PS3 is now disc-free and the company's eschewed the SRS surround features baked into its Silverlight-based platform, we're guessing Microsoft's exclusivity period has now completely run its course. Video and PR after the break.

Update: Though the official PlayStation Blog originally reported the service would display streaming video at 1080i resolution, they've since struck that out -- they say it'll do 1080p now. Much better.

Netflix Taps Dolby for High-Definition Audio

Dolby Digital Plus Brings 5.1-Channel Surround Sound to Movies and TV Shows Instantly Streamed from the Leading Online Movie Subscription Service

LOS GATOS, Calif. and SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: DLB) today announced that Netflix has selected Dolby® Digital Plus to deliver 5.1-channel surround sound for TV shows and movies streamed instantly over the Internet. Beginning October 18, the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) computer entertainment system from Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. will be the first consumer electronics device to support 5.1-channel surround sound on movies streamed from Netflix. Netflix said more devices would be added over time to support streaming digital surround sound.

"Netflix is committed to delivering an unparalleled experience to its members who watch TV shows and movies streamed instantly over the Internet," said Greg Peters, Netflix vice president of product development. "Netflix required an audio solution that could efficiently deliver an outstanding surround sound experience for a wide range of consumer devices. Dolby Digital Plus proved to be the best solution to meet our needs and the needs of our device partners."

Dolby Digital Plus supports up to 7.1 channels of premium-quality surround sound and allows consumers to enjoy outstanding high-definition audio from broadcasts, streaming and downloaded media, and Blu-ray Disc™. To date, tens of millions of TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players, Audio/Video receivers, and mobile phones have shipped with Dolby Digital Plus.

"Dolby Digital Plus makes the online entertainment experience rich, realistic, and memorable," said John Couling, vice president, marketing, products & platforms, Dolby Laboratories. "Dolby is excited to be working with Netflix and its partners to provide premium Dolby surround sound to Netflix subscribers. This collaboration will enable subscribers to enjoy movies and TV shows presented in surround sound just as the artists and directors intended."

Dolby Digital Plus is a sophisticated audio system based on Dolby Digital that has been adopted by many of the world's leading broadcasters, TV and set-top-box manufacturers, and device makers to provide consumers with full digital surround sound. It is designed to adapt to the changing demands of entertainment delivery while retaining compatibility with existing Dolby Digital 5.1-channel home theater systems.