Sunday, January 06, 2008

Netflix on TV

I'm not a big fan of watching movies on the computer. Watching the occasional song on YouTube is fine but when it comes to full-length movies, I've found that I just can't sit in front of the monitor(or look at the laptop screen) for the full movie. So when it comes to downloaded Tamil movies, I used to burn them as VCDs on R/W CDs and watch them on the DVD player(low-cost brands like Apex worked best for this). And nowadays I simply connect my laptop to the TV and launch the movies(which are downloaded to my desktop) directly using the wireless connection.

This discomfort with watching movies on the computer is the main reason I haven't used the Watch Instantly feature on Netflix. I did try it out when it was launched and both the quality and the streaming speed were good enough to watch the entire movie uninterrupted. But I never watched any more movies using the feature since watching it on the computer wasn't appealing enough.

Now Netflix is bridging this gap by making it easier to watch movies on TV. They have announced a partership with LG Electronics for a set-top box that streams movies directly to the TV. According to Netflix, the box can be be hooked up easily to the TV and will make it real easy for anyone with a high-speed Internet connection to watch movies on their TV. The list of movies to watch will still be have to be selected on the computer but once the list is created, it will appear on TV and selections can be made from it. Their Watch Instantly feature has been popular with the under-25 crowd who use their laptops extensively and they are hoping that this device with help make the feature attractive to other demographics too.

I've always admired Netflix as a company that keeps introducing innovations that make them ready to tackle upcoming threats. With downloads undoubtedly being the way movie rentals will work in the future, this move will help Netflix be ahead of the game once again. But this is not going to be without competition either. Many other companies are already in - or are getting ready to enter - the field. Apple already has its own device but it has been called one of their rare failures. The main reason for that is supposed to be the poor selection of movies on iTunes and the inability to rent movies(you can only buy them). But they are expected to announce a movie rental service at the upcoming MacWorld conference and that should make Apple TV a lot more popular. Amazon too has a video download service already. On the bright side, one competitor has already been eliminated as Wal-mart recently shut down their video download service.

Many people have forecast Netflix's downfall as other forms of movie rentals become more popular. But with this, and plans to expand to channels like video game consoles and hi-def DVD players, Netflix seems poised to handle the future well.


At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

S-video cables cab be used to connect laptop and tv. Now S-Video cables are coming with RCA audio cables.

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure even after having a high-speed connection will the streaming and the quality be smooth. DVD quality consumes a lot of bandwidth. I have had buffering problems even with using a high-speed cable modem.

I think the best way to go is having an ON DEMAND feature on cable TV like how comcast digital cable provides. On one of the cable channels you switch to ON DEMAND, and choose a movie from the library and play it on your TV. You can pause, rewind, FF using the TV universal remote. Only problem right now is the comcast movie library to choose from is very limited. If NETFLIX can use a channel to upload their entire library it would be cool. Nothing like using the TV remote to watch your favourite movies at your leisure with pause/FF/rewind options.

Imagine something like that for Tamil/Hindi movies. Yeah, I am dreaming :-)

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi sir, you do know that there are websites that offer free english movies that you can watch online (on divx player (highest quality on laptop)). I know several sites myself, and I connect my laptop to the tv and get clarity of playing a dvd. I have done that with several movies such as " I am legend" and "sweeney todd".

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

rajesh, yes but i'm not sure how many laptops come with s-video output. mine doesn't :)

vijay, i watched 'run lola run' thro Netflix 'Watch Instantly' using wired dsl connection and it was really good. pretty close to DVD quality i'd say. but since my tv's far away from my router, the wireless connection's not too strong. i tried to play an episode of 'lost' from on my laptop(which i connected to the tv) and had buffering problems.

glass, since u r talking about new movies, i'm pretty sure they're illegal. am surprised the sites haven't been shut down :)

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it is illegal. You yourself have admitted of watching illegal tamil movies on the internet. So why is it such a shock/suprise that I see english movies online? and no these websites have been up and running for a long time as far as to my knowledge. there are many websites: just like there are many tamil movie online websites.

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in agreeance with vijay about the on demand service. Though the on demand service provided by our cable company in Toronto is still in need of huge overhauls in terms of introducing a more user friendly interface, load times and extending their video library for movies and tv shows, it's a technology that shows a lot of promise.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

glass, its just that piracy is a big thing in the US and i frequently hear of crackdowns on dvds, etc. and then there was the napster shutdown. so was surprised that the websites havent been shut down :)

anon, true. its probably the most convenient and once it takes off, there'll be no stopping it :)


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