Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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The reason is that Netflix app is using a different interface between the devices. The AppleTV is using the old interface, apparently, where when a show loaded it would determine which rate would work best for your given bandwidth at that time. Netflix will buffer about ten seconds, but if they bandwidth drops long enough, the buffer is used and Netflix can't keep up, and has to rebuffer to continue, which is what is happening when you see the spinning circle. If drops too much and consistently enough, Netflix will lower your bitrate feed.
On Windows, they're using the adjust on the fly technology that will adjust which bitrate to use based on the available bandwidth at that given time. This is why you may see picture go from crystal clear to less clear or even pixelatted. With this interface, you'll rarely see buffering indicators. It still buffers in the background.
Oeverall, sounds like your bandwidth is on the borderline whatever bitrate you initially get when Netflix starts a video. It's possible it could be your home network setup, or even the amount of traffic on it. So you may want to try different times of the day to see what happens; it'll indicated if it's a bandwidth issue.
The 5.1 dolby digit versus stereo is just depend on the platform. Honestly, Netflix doesn't give all the bells and whistle to the PC. Heck, if you use the Windows 8 app from the Windows Store, you're using the best PC inference available for the PC. Netflix focuses on set top boxes such as Roku, AppleTV, and game consoles. From my experience, I would say their next focus is on mobile devices. Next would be things such as smart televisions, blu ray players. Last, pcs. That said, the PC experience stinks compared to STB (especially newer boxes such as Roku3), game consoles (Xbox and Playstation) and mobile devices.
On a side note, I've been using Netflix streaming service since about six months after it originally debuted and was PC only. I got the Roku when it first came out and was called Netflix Media Player by Roku and was the ONLY channel on the Roku. I've used Netflix on Android, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, Android, Windows 8 app, Windows 7 through Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.