Monday, September 20, 2010

Netflix lives up to its name and then some...

Initially... when Netflix debuted over 10 years ago... I was a bit confused. With a name like Netflix, you would think that you could watch movies over the Internet... but instead, Netflix was just an online DVD rental service.

They were the first to do so (I think) and eventually Blockbuster and some others got into the game. Several years ago, when I was deciding on a DVD service to use, I went with Blockbuster because of the ability to return the DVDs to their physical store which also allowed me to double on my rentals because you could trade the returned DVD for an in-store rental, which basically doubled the number of DVDs you could rent. It went well for a while but driving to-and-fro Blockbuster was becoming more of a hassle and waiting several days for the mailed DVDs was inconvenient because I had to remember to queue them a few days prior to the weekend to ensure I would get them by then. And when Blockbuster changed their policy so that the in-store exchanges also counted as your mailed rentals, I started using the service less and less and either doing Redbox ($1 DVD rentals) or just renting at Blockbuster for that instant gratification.

Cue Netflix Instant Streaming.

While they had started doing it in 2007, it wasn't until lately they have expanded their Instant Streaming library and just signed a deal last August with EPIX which adds even more content. There are ton of movies and TV series I would like to watch and this seemed like a good way to do it, especially because they could stream to multiple devices like our iPhones, our PS3s and even our Wii (and even more devices are offering Netflix functionality like TVs and BluRay players).. Since I have been looking for an HD Media Player I have been looking into streaming services like VuDu but the great thing about Netflix Streaming is it's unlimited and included with the DVD rental service. I just wondered what type of quality was it going to be.

Well... I signed up for the free month of service and while I was waiting for our DVDs to show up (to stream on the PS3 and Wii requires a physical CD/DVD), I decided to try the iPhone app. At first it was dicey but that's because I wasn't in an area with good 3G reception. Once I was... I was amazed at how fast it started, the quality and even the ability to stop it and resume it a later time/day. And then when I got the discs for the Wii and PS3, it was even better because anything I was watching on one device, I could resume on another. I was doubtful about the speed and quality because all of my game machines are wireless but it was basically like watching a DVD (480p) which was good enough for us. And depending on the interface, it could suggest other titles, allows you to search and you can put movies on your Instant Queue to access them quicker on your different devices. I like the PS3 interface the best mainly because the Wii doesn't seem to provide search functionality but it's easy enough to hop over to your computer... use their search (which is the best way since you have a real keyboard), add it to your Instant Queue and then go watch it on the Wii (or any other device). And having the iPhone app makes it so portable as long as you are in a good service area. Being able to start watching something while at the park or a restaurant, resume watching it downstairs in the den or living room and then going upstairs to finish it is just ridiculous.

I'm not sure how Netflix is making money on this because just over this last week we've probably watched over 20 hours of streaming content while we've only rented 1 DVD. But I'm convinced, I'm going to end my Blockbuster account, continue my Netflix 1-DVD only account (currently $8.99, $10.99 if you want BluRay) and watch as much flix over the Net as I can.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The iEvent (the Apple one... not the NBC TV series)

You can catch the liveblog over at Engadget:

Everything was pretty much predicted:

1. iOS 4.1 (with a preview of iOS 4.2)
2. New Shuffle (the buttons are back)
3. New Nano (no more clickwheel, small square form factor, touchscreen, no more video camera)
4. New Touch (Retina Display, front and rear cameras to support FaceTime video chat)
5. New iTunes 10
6. New Apple TV (not iTV... yet) and for only $99!

I think their big misstep was the new Nano. Now it's TOO small. They should get Robin Williams to do an ad for it and call it the "NanoNano". If they really wanted to add a touchscreen, keep it the same screen size as the prev Nano (keeping it rectangular) and add the touchscreen functions, instead of 2x2 you could do 3x2 giving you more options per page. I can understand removing the camera due to the form factor but removing video playback (rumored) basically makes this a Shuffle with a screen... boo.

I like the new Apple TV... they are trying to compete with the expanding category of TV streaming devices like the WD HD TV, Asus O|Air and other HD content media players (as well as built-in streaming in TVs and of course Google TV).

No mention of Verizon iPhone or the rumored antenna design fix (other than a bumper/case of course).

UFC 118... yawn.

Wow... I thought some of the other ones this year were boring.... this one was the most.

If you thought Toney had a chance at Couture... you must have never watched MMA before. Randy took him down by touching his ankle... bleh.

I had though BJ Penn would have changed his game plan. He looked better than the previous fight but he still tried to fight the quicker man's game in stand up and do nothing on the ground. Props to Edgar for proving his title win wasn't a fluke but I doubt Gray Maynard is going to let him get "bullied" by Edgar.

Why does Gabe Ruediger still get to fight in the UFC? Didn't he demonstrate on The Ultimate Fighter he doesn't have the will? And in one of his previous matches he looked like he gave up. I'm glad Luazon beat him up... it was one-sided but it demonstrated that some fighters don't deserve 3rd or 4th chances.

I don't really like the Diaz brothers all that much... but they stand behind their smack. The Irish Hand Grenade looked bad and Nate proved why he won TUF.

I wonder if the next UFC Fight Night will be better than this last PPV?