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Netflix on the PS3 photos

CNET takes a hands-on look at Netflix on the PS3, and compares it with Netflix streaming available on other devices.

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Matthew Moskovciak
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Netflix on PS3 disc

Unlike Netflix streaming on other devices, the PS3 requires the Netflix Streaming Disc for PS3. That means you'll need to request as disc from Netflix and it will come in the mail like a standard Netflix movie. It doesn't count against your allotment of movies allowed out and you never need to return the disc. The disc uses Blu-ray's BD-Live functionality to enable streaming, and this is by far the best use of BD-Live we've seen so far.
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Netflix on the XMB

Once you insert the Netflix Streaming Disc, it shows up in the XMB in the video section. Select Netflix from the XMB and the experience is largely identical to streaming Netflix on other devices, with a few new features.
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Main Netflix interface

The main interface shows you the cover art of the movies in your instant queue, arranged horizontally.
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Movie information

If you select a movie, it will show a screen with more detailed information, a summary of the plot and a star rating. You're also able to scroll horizontally within the more detailed view, without having to return to the main screen.
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Load times

It takes a few extra seconds to load a program once you've selected it.
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Progress bar

There's a progress bar on the bottom when you pause or fast-forward a film that lets you know how long the movie you're watching is and how far into it you are.
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Resume where you left off

If you stop watching a movie, you're able to resume from right where you left off or start again from the beginning.
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More than just your instant queue

The main improvement over standard streaming Netflix devices are the tabs at the top of the interface. With other devices, like the Roku Digital Video Player, you're able to access only movies that you've added to your Instant Queue using a PC. On the PS3, you're given some additional tabs that allow you to browse new arrivals, movies Netflix thinks you'll like, and to browse categories that you often use.That's not quite as good as the Xbox 360's Netflix interface, which allows you to add new titles to your instant queue without using a PC, but it's a welcome addition to the basic Netflix streaming available on other devices.
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Categories

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New arrivals

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Suggestions

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Dealing with the disc

The major frustration with Netflix on the PS3 is that you need to insert the special disc to use the service. That's not the case with Netflix streaming on any other device so far and couch potatoes will complain about that extra trip to the PS3 every time they want to stream a movie.

That being said, we're willing to live with the compromise. As we understand it, the use of a disc is simply a workaround Netflix's prior agreement with Microsoft to be the only game console with Netflix streaming as part of the software. In that case, we definitely prefer having this optional workaround to no streaming at all. (It appears that Microsoft's exclusivity deal ends in late 2010, at which time Sony can properly integrate Netflix into the software, so you don't need the disc.) It's also worth pointing out that there's no additional cost (beyond a Netflix subscription) to use Netflix on the PS3; Xbox 360 owners need to have an Xbox Gold Live subscription, which goes for $50 a year.

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