Xbox Netflix update lets you watch with friends


A few days ago, I mentioned the new Xbox 360 update that includes some new Netflix features, such as browsing the service's streamable library directly from the Xbox. I've had some time to play around with it, and I've grown to appreciate another addition to the service just as much as the browsing.

The Xbox 360 update lets users who have Netflix form parties, and watch movies together. Instead of watching a video with those around you, you can sync it up with your friends across the country and enjoy the experience together in a virtual home theater. Users can even chat with voice chat using an Xbox 360-compatible headset, and their Xbox Live avatars can "emote," perform little animations expressing their opinions of the content.

It's not a perfect system. Unlike the full-screen experience when watching alone, the video is moved to a smaller, pseudo-screen in a virtual home theater populated by your Xbox live avatar and the avatars of your friends. The result is a Mystery Science Theater effect that has a lot of comic potential, but can seriously dig into your sense of immersion when watching an epic. Still, it's a pretty great feature if you want to share a movie with a friend who's too far away to actually join you in your own home theater. It's available to anyone with an Xbox, an Xbox Live Gold membership, and a Netflix membership.

Will Greenwald