6 Ways to improve Netflix on Xbox 360
1. Add multi-channel audio Through computer speakers, the WMA stereo sound that Netflix couples with their streaming video is acceptable. But, pump it through the HDMI-piped audio systems some of us have spent so much time tweaking and the deficiencies become all too obvious. Netflix says that it's in the works, but we won't see it in 2008 and I'm not hopeful for the early part of 2009. It's especially distracting when you're watching something with a surprisingly crisp HD picture and sound that's only slightly better than what you get on Youtube.
2. Let us choose our own resolution Netflix currently uses a four-bar system when it comes to mating connection and resolution. Each bar represents a different quality, ranging from 500 to 3,400 kbps. While it generally does a pretty good job of picking the appropriate quality, I encountered a problem when it came to streaming the HD content. It would load in HD, play for a minute and then say my network had slowed and that it was going to downgrade the stream to prevent further interruption. That would be fine, but it downgraded the stream so much that it was almost unwatchable. I could immediately switch over to something in SD and it would play at much better quality. Essentially, it seemed to be over correcting. If I could pick a quality from the start, I would just eschew the HD stream in the first place for the safer bet of the high-quality SD.
3. Ditch the need for a PC The app gives you access to your instant queue, but doesn't allow you to poke through their collection of movies looking for something to impulse watch. It's the complaint of a lazy person, but there's something to be said for not having to get up off of the couch and go to your computer to find something new.
4. Recommend content It's the next logical step to come after getting access to the entire instant library, but it's worth mentioning because Netflix's recommendation system becomes much more valuable when taking their word for a movie only requires a two-minute loading screen, rather than mailing back one of your movies and hoping for the best. Plus, a higher turn over rate for movie ratings would make improve the system itself.
5. Add subtitles Of course, the hearing impaired rely on subtitles to watch TV and movies, but there are a few other reasons subtitles can be desirable. Even the best speakers on the planet won't help my Yankee ears catch every brilliant word Ricky Gervais spits in the original UK version of The Office. Plus, it's great for kids to help them read along with any educational content they might be watching.
6. Provide more good content It seems like a no-brainer, but this instant Netflix will become infinitely more valuable when it is populated with more good--or at least watchable--content. The watch now library isn't a small one, but a large portion of it just happens to be stuff that no one really wants to see. I'll take 100 movies like No Country for Old Men over 100 like Problem Child. That might be somewhat of an understatement.