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Netflix in the Streaming Movies Game....  

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
Yep, Netfix. Huge customer base, even Walmart couldn't budge them from the No. 1 spot.

I wish Apple had included a tab for them in Front Row, but it's gonna be Vista instead:-(

I bet you, if MS doesn't have a MCE menu plug already, someone will have it done in a month.

Apple should really reach out, and open Front Row to third party developers, if it wants to stay in the HTPC game. A service like Netflix, being unavailable on Mac OS, can sway potential buyers straddling the OS fence, to Vista boxes. Apple TV just became a tougher sale. Just my 2 cents.

http://www.neowin.net/index.php?act=view&id=37220
post #2 of 65
"The feature, which cost Netflix about $40 million to develop, is designed to adjust the picture's resolution based on a user's cable bandwidth so that the movie doesn't freeze during play. "

And will your cable/DSL connection keep up with an 8 Mbps (DVD quality) stream? Not mine. If it will sense that fact and send me a 360x240 movie (instead of 720x480), then I'm better off going through iTunes (apart from the cost of each movie).

But, I do applaud Netflix for working on this.
post #3 of 65
Thread Starter 
Actually, I can stream the Apple HiDef clips from their site.

You are forgetting the new compression standards. DVDs are encoded in MPEG-2, these Netflix files are almost certainly to be encoded to some type of MPEG-4, which is much more efficient. So, with some caching, streaming at "DVD-quality," or very close to it, is entirely possible.

I pay $20 per month to Netflix, and this service will allow me to keep my 3 movies at home, PLUS 18 hours of streaming content per month. For the SAME fee.

I am really, really surprised, that Jobs didn't see this coming, and accommodate it. Unless Apple TV can match, and top this offer (because there are other providers, like Vongo.com coming on line, all as Vista plug-ins,) Apple TV is dead before it hits the market.

I will repeat: movies are not like songs - they rarely get repeat play (except for 4-year olds watching Disney flicks non-stop, and turning their brains to mush prematurely:-) Streaming rentals, for a flat fee, is where this market is going.

I do think, that, if executed right, this Netflix thing may turn out to be the "killer" application which drives HTPC sales for the masses, or at least for the millions who subscribe to Netflix.

I know some will get upset at my saying this, but I am afraid, Apple is missing the HTPC boat, just like it missed the Gaming boat. I wish we had a good front-end and good video codecs, I wish we had a sleek Apple box with Apple Streaming TV integrated into a beefed up Front Row, I wish we had Apple two-way remotes like the ones shown at CES for Vista.... I wish for all these things, but someone at Apple decided they know different....

My hope is that Leopard will change this, but judging by Apple TV, that hope is fast fading.
post #4 of 65
I'm not a NetFlix member. I checked the web site and I didn't see any information about their streaming movies feature. Where can I find information about what NetFlix is offering for streaming?

Thanks!
post #5 of 65
Thread Starter 
Sounds like it will roll out over the next few days.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articl...1-ArticlePage3

Netflix rocks, although I have also been tempted by GreenCine.com, who are more Indie oriented, and have offered DIVX downloads for a while.

Also, check out Vongo.com (which just appeared as a Vista MCE menu plug-in.) Vongo just started offering flat-fee streaming rentals, as well as the streaming of Starz! programming.

If you access Vongo.com with a Mac, they actually show you a statement about how they have designed the service also for the Mac, but Apple is refusing to license Fair Play to them, which prevents them from offering their product on the Mac platform:-(

This market is just exploding, but for OS X, the Apple TV looks like the only game in town, kind of like VLC is on the player end.... Not a happy picture, IMO.

The best thing I can say, is that some of the Apple hardware is perfectly designed for HTPC, and it can run Vista MCE as well as anything, at least until we see what Leopard has to offer.
post #6 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by grampie View Post

I'm not a NetFlix member. I checked the web site and I didn't see any information about their streaming movies feature. Where can I find information about what NetFlix is offering for streaming?

Thanks!

Here is a link to the Netflix press release.

http://www.netflix.com/MediaCenter?id=5384
post #7 of 65
This is all well and good for Netflix customers, but how does it have anything to do with us Mac users? This service is not Mac compatible and doesn't have any Apple or Mac tie-in. Perhaps this thread needs to be moved elsewhere.
post #8 of 65
I agree, doesn't have anything to do with Mac users. The idea of it being on the AppleTV is a pipe dream. The AppleTV is just a means for Apple to further push the iTunes store and I highly doubt they would open it up to companies like NetFlix. Now the SlingCatcher on the other hand sounds like by default it will have to ability to Sling the movies from the computer to the TV (supposedly will work with any online content...I curious how well the will actually work though?) I think a more likely partnership would be NetFlix and SlingMedia (SlingCatcher press release says: "Additional Applications, Services and Partnerships Forthcoming") with Sling adding direct access to NetFlix streaming movies to its box.
post #9 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeattleCubsFans View Post

I agree, doesn't have anything to do with Mac users. The idea of it being on the AppleTV is a pipe dream. The AppleTV is just a means for Apple to further push the iTunes store and I highly doubt they would open it up to companies like NetFlix. Now the SlingCatcher on the other hand sounds like by default it will have to ability to Sling the movies from the computer to the TV (supposedly will work with any online content...I curious how well the will actually work though?) I think a more likely partnership would be NetFlix and SlingMedia (SlingCatcher press release says: "Additional Applications, Services and Partnerships Forthcoming") with Sling adding direct access to NetFlix streaming movies to its box.

Wouldn't it be great if they had another announcement in February just before Apple TV ships that included a new version of iTunes that supported video rentals. The Apple TV could be used to browse the Apple Video rental store and then you can just download it into the built-in 40GB HD without going to your computer. Or just do it in the computer. One or the other (just to keep the studios happy). The file will be playable for 48 hours. They can even sell them alacarte for $4 a pop. Or, have a monthly fee of $20 for may be 15 movies or something like that.

This is better than the netflix deal because it is not streamed, it will be used in a living room and it will increase sales of Apple TV.
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew67 View Post

This is all well and good for Netflix customers, but how does it have anything to do with us Mac users? This service is not Mac compatible and doesn't have any Apple or Mac tie-in. Perhaps this thread needs to be moved elsewhere.

I'm planning on using the Netflix service with IE 6 running in Parallels on a Macbook Pro.
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post #11 of 65
Thread Starter 
I would suggest Boot Camp. Parallels is great, but doesn't do well on video, even the new Beta (at least on an Dual 2.0 iMac.)
post #12 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew67 View Post

This is all well and good for Netflix customers, but how does it have anything to do with us Mac users? This service is not Mac compatible and doesn't have any Apple or Mac tie-in. Perhaps this thread needs to be moved elsewhere.

Hm, with all the hoopla about Apple TV, aren't you curious about other options being announced, including this one from the largest DVD rental service in the world? See no evil, hear no evil....:-)

I think it is very relevant, particularly since it will likely impact Apple's position in this market, and it will certainly impact many users here: I bet there are more Netflix subscribers here, than in the general population.

Also, if enough consumers kick and scream, Apple sometimes responds, as it did with Boot Camp.
post #13 of 65
This type of offering is still in it's infancy, if that.

I strongly believe that Apple will be a major player in this market. I'm confident they will release products for online movies that will be as good as the iPod and iTunes are for music.

The Apple TV is just the beginning.
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan1 View Post

Hm, with all the hoopla about Apple TV, aren't you curious about other options being announced, including this one from the largest DVD rental service in the world? See no evil, hear no evil....:-)

Yes and No. Yes if it's a service supported on the Mac, and No if it's a service that's built with Windows technology and is limited to that platform only. In my mind it doesn't matter how this service competes with the Apple TV because it doesn't run on a Mac. And if anyone brings up the point that Windows can run on a Mac... at that point it's no longer a Mac, it's a Windows PC. I'm simply a little tired of reading two weeks of discussion about Apple's product failures and how such and such service is going to kill Apple TV, iPhone, iPod, iTunes, etc.
post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan1 View Post

I would suggest Boot Camp. Parallels is great, but doesn't do well on video, even the new Beta (at least on an Dual 2.0 iMac.)

Right you are. The video was lacking when I tried via Parallels, but it looked quite acceptable when I actually booted into Windows. For those interested, Netflix granted me the "high" video setting based on my 3Mbps DSL connection.

It's not really clear to me how Netflix will make this available for Mac OS X. The latest release of Windows Media DRM technology doesn't work on OS X. The native DRM on OS X is Fairplay, and I don't forsee Apple licensing that to Netflix.
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post #16 of 65
Resolution? What does high mean? DVD quality better than DVD? Does it support 5.1 dolby digital sound?
post #17 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamondg14 View Post

Resolution? What does high mean? DVD quality better than DVD? Does it support 5.1 dolby digital sound?

I haven't figured out a way to determine the resolution at this point.
post #18 of 65
Thread Starter 
The way I read it, it seems like they determine the max resolution based on your connection, then if the speed of the connection drops, they throttle down the size of the incoming stream.

There may be a glimmer of hope for OS X users. This is an unconfirmed report about Apple licensing Fair Play out to Made for iPod licensees, which is certainly a feeble start, but at least it is a start:

http://www.tech.co.uk/home-entertain...leid=394429162

As far as not being interested in any products not working with Mac OS, it just smacks of religion a bit. The box and the OS are just the means to an end (in this case, a good HTPC,) not the end. We all like Apple here, because it offers elegance and ease of use. But if Apple doesn't provide the means to achieve a decent HT experience, many of us will look at alternatives. Or at least bitch to Apple, because they do listen from time to time. (I actually think it is good that someone like Vongo.com cares enough about the Apple market, to actually bother to invite us to demand the licensing of Fair Play to them.)

And, face it, Apple is primarily a hardware company: this is where they make their money, and that's why they don't like to license their software. So, I would guess, that Apple would much prefer that consumers purchase Apple hardware and dual-boot, than choose a PC box and be lost forever to the dark side. And I don't know if you are familiar with Netflix at all, but it is likely that its lack of support for OS X would affect the OS purchasing decisions of at least some of its millions of subscribers.
post #19 of 65
Interesting thread. Lots of new directions opening up. I wonder what Blockbuster has up its sleeve?

But really, I think the news of Netflix is a logical outgrowth of their business model. As to tying their service to Microsoft's DRM, it will definitely limit their audience: to Windows PC users (or to whatever players may be licensed to use that DRM on the Mac, which at this point is...??? Zero). Apple's DRM on the other hand is not tethered to an OS, but it is tethered to iTunes. This added flexibility is definitely a plus, as it is platform agnostic. But I read some interesting material at Roughly Drafted about how tethering your DRM to software limits its applicability.

In this case, one of the hugest limitations I found with appleTV (as to Apple or a partner provided content, that is) is that it lacks the ability to directly go out to the iTS and order content, or directly access other content via IPTV, or any other method like P2P. I initially thought that by Apple's showing how you can access movie trailers via the Front Row-like interface, that it would be logical for them to take the next leap and offer one-click downloads from the iTS to your bigscreen via remote at the strato lounger. My thought is that this convenience would drive appleTV sales and content sales phenomenally. As would the addition of a rental and a subscription model. If you have a romantic moment going, whop wants to get up off of the couch, go into the den, login to the computer, get on iTunes, go to the iTunes store, purchase a flick, and start a dowload. Only to go back to the couch to find that the moment has passed... because you had to go and play with your computer to do it.

But the problem with Fairplay, is that it needs iTunes to manage it. And how do you get iTunes on the appleTV? Or how do you design another system, or advance Fairplay to work via streaming, or download from the iTS directly to your appleTV? DRM built in to the hardware or whatever software that runs on the appleTV? How do you (or can you) manage purchased, DRM'd content on the computer from the appleTV? This is the huge gap that Apple now needs to cross, and something we know nothing about yet. Apple's last mile. This problem also affects the iPhone. How to purchase from the iTS directly from the iPhone? Port iTunes to OS X running on ARM and build a secure WiFi bridge to AT&T and from AT&T to iTS? It's why Apple has not announced anything about the iPhone having the ability to purchase directly from the iTS. It may be another of SJ's rabbit in the hat tricks yet to play out. Apple needs to advance fairplay and build some flexibility in it that it currently doesn't have (another sticking point with the studios over content licensing?)

So it is good that Netflix is upping the ante here, and forcing Apple to compete against a different model--albeit one that has flaws. I think that Netflix's streaming technology, however, is going to bite them in the rear, as they are already going to throttle lower bandwidth connections, and consumers will suffer sub-par content quality and/or resolution. And will they have the ability to saturate your broadband pipe with an adequate edge distribution network? Or will the cable and dsl providers limit it (net neutrality wars loom large here). Apple has developed a great distribution network through its history with the iTS, swupdate, trailer downloads, and its alliance with Akamai for edge distribution.

I think that the appleTV's supporting 720p is a huge benefit over Netflix's file delivery model. How will Netflix compete in the HD space streaming over an already too narrow network channel? And Netflix will have to rely on Microsoft's DRM, OS, and third party computer manufacturers to develop a system for outright sales, and downloads (as opposed to streams, rentals and subscriptions). This is the huge Apple advantage: an integrated beginning to end solution that is platform agnostic (though linux iTunes would help here).

And for a last bit of speculation about Apple licensing Fairplay, that opens up many different possibilities. Maybe Apple will enter into an agreement with either Blockbuster or Netflix and license Fairplay. The agreement then drives Apple hardware device sales (appleTV and/or content delivery technology and experience) to deliver Fairplay'd content via a rental or subscripton model. This potentially could get around Apple's problems with the studios not wanting to let Apple deliver content via its current model. Or it could just be a leveraging point that Apple could use behind the scenes against the studios. Just pure speculation, and it most likely is way off the mark, but is it coincidence that all of the following stars line up at once: Leopard, appleTV, iPhone, Fairplay rumors, Apple content negotiations, Google buying YouTube (and having a seat on Apple's board), Netflix streaming...???

So the big question, one that makes the appleTV more than a minor niche player, is how does Apple put iTunes, or a compatible web application, on the appleTV (or the iPhone or iPod for that matter), and extend Fairplay off of the computer, allowing lesser devices to purchase and manage the DRM? That is the million (multi billion) dollar question.

So there are still so many angles here as the pieces get put together, and the puzzle becomes a little more clearer, and players show their cards.
post #20 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan1 View Post

As far as not being interested in any products not working with Mac OS, it just smacks of religion a bit.

To me it smacks of the point of this forum, and that is one targeted towards Apple and how it relates to AV. There are two other forums to discuss other products and environments. We don't discuss the xbox 360 and PS3 online video stores so why discuss Windows related services?
post #21 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew67 View Post

To me it smacks of the point of this forum, and that is one targeted towards Apple and how it relates to AV. There are two other forums to discuss other products and environments. We don't discuss the xbox 360 and PS3 online video stores so why discuss Windows related services?

I thought the Netflix announcement left the door open to the future possibility of a Mac client, e.g. "...we'll work to get to every Internet connected screen...". I know a few Mac-heads that work at Netflix. I think our long term prospects are good.
post #22 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSteely View Post

I thought the Netflix announcement left the door open to the future possibility of a Mac client, e.g. "...we'll work to get to every Internet connected screen...". I know a few Mac-heads that work at Netflix. I think our long term prospects are good.

Doesn't really matter how many mac heads work at Netflix, the fact remains that the ball is pretty much in Microsofts court and Windows Media DRM.
post #23 of 65
Netflix doesn't have to rely on fairplay or microsoft's DRM (Which is never coming to OS X), they can use their own just as Realplayer does.
post #24 of 65
Quote:


But the problem with Fairplay, is that it needs iTunes to manage it. And how do you get iTunes on the appleTV?

You don't need iTunes on the Apple TV. It plays all DRM'd content you have been authorized for on the iTunes machine without having to authorize the unit. This is true for streaming from other computers running iTunes.

Kevin
post #25 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by imlucid View Post

You don't need iTunes on the Apple TV. It plays all DRM'd content you have been authorized for on the iTunes machine without having to authorize the unit. This is true for streaming from other computers running iTunes.

Kevin

My point is still valid. You have to manage the DRM with iTunes. In the case of the appleTV, iTunes is on the computer. And this severely limits the appleTV's ability. It is why you cannot use one-click ordering from the appleTV in the living room. You have to go into the den and use the computer. This is why the appleTV is nothing more than a media extender. Which is fine. But if Apple were to put DRM management on the appleTV, it would be open to a whole new level of convenience, including not needing the computer to manage the DRM, or file downloads. It also is another reason to just get a Mini for a HTPC, if only for this convenience.

Forcing people to control their TV content from another room will do little to advance Apple's goals of bringing simplicity to function. In this way it is no better than a Sling box, or other streaming device. Where it excels and is unique is iTunes and the iTS. But to the average home consumer who hasn't used iTunes or the iTS (and they are still in the vast majority), and doesn't care or know about geeky AV trends, appleTV as it stands now isn't compelling enough to drive adoption.

I'm not trying to be negative here. I just think that Apple needs to move a ittle faster here with a more robust product, or risk losing ground to Netflix, xBox, Fios and U-Verse, and all of the rest of the new ideas in the content delivery world.

And my thoughts are currently running towards the idea of iTunes being the killer app for this decade. Embed it in appleTV, and Apple will have hit a home run. Put it on the iPhone, and it will elevate it to another level as a media device.
post #26 of 65
Quote:


Embed it in appleTV, and Apple will have hit a home run.

The main problem with this is that managing data assets with a six button remote is a non-trivial exercise from a UI standpoint.

Having the management of assets in a location where you have access to a 2' interface and keyboard makes for a better user experience.

Now having said that, there certainly are some things that could be done on the device itself that could streamline this (like purchasing content). However, just as the iPod has minimal management (on the go playlists is one), so should the Apple TV.

In my personal situation this works pretty well as I don't mind doing the behind the scenes content manipulation (creating playlists, tagging video, purchasing TV shows and handling podcast subscriptions) on my server in the other room. The Apple TV will just automatically sync the latest stuff and my wife and kids can browse and playback whatever is available. The interface is simple and doesn't get bogged down with too many options.

This is a key feature to the Apple TV. Like you said, its a media extender, similar to the iPod. The computer is the hub of Apple's digital strategy.
post #27 of 65
"Fairplay" LOL OXYMORON
post #28 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by imlucid View Post

The main problem with this is that managing data assets with a six button remote is a non-trivial exercise from a UI standpoint.

Having the management of assets in a location where you have access to a 2' interface and keyboard makes for a better user experience.

And solving problems like this is exactly what Apple is good at. Think different. Microsoft almost solved this problem with its attempt at WebTV, as pathetic as that was. If Apple were to design the perfect keyboard for the strato lounger, and you could use the 37"+ display as your interface, would not that be optimal? Oh, wait a minute, Apple just patented multi-touch technology, and touch screen keyboard methods. It's called the iPhone. Control the appleTV with the iPhone (or touchscreen remote variant) and display it on the big screen. Problem solved.

But will they do it??? Would we want them to, or is the appleTV good enough as is for enough people to be viable? Looking at it from the geeky AV type's viewpoint, of course we want our computer in the mix. But does the average consumer? Divorce the appleTV from the computer (whatever it takes to do that), and Apple has the market. And give that touchscreen remote universal capabilities like the Harmony. Wait a minute, isn't Apple embroiled in a legal battle with Cisco/Linksys over the iPhone moniker??? The plot thickens...
post #29 of 65
Quote:


If Apple were to design the perfect keyboard for the strato lounger

NOOOOOO

My personal opinion is that keyboards are for computers, remotes are for TVs, the simpler the better.

I've used wireless remotes, laptops as controllers, and pronto's and other mega universal remotes. These are all counter to the Apple philosophy and hence the six button remote.

All the above are exactly what the target Apple TV customer does NOT want. They want simplicity and ease of use. There are already a number of other solutions that do more than Apple TV but none have caught on, why is that? For the same reason that mp3 player's didn't catch on prior to the iPod. Sure they could play more formats and were cheaper but they were not what people wanted.

The Apple TV is following a similar philosophy (sure it doesn't play all the video formats that are out there), but it plays the ones that are the most popular, MPEG-4 ahd H.264. This limitation hasn't stopped people from buying 5G iPods with video, nor will it with Apple TV.

By itself, Apple TV would not be very compelling. But with iTunes and the iTS it has the same three legged solution that the iPod has. Its that environment and seamless inter-working that people really want, not WMA or DIVX file support.
post #30 of 65
Thread Starter 
O.K., I found a new "Watch Now" tab on my Netflix page last night, so I tried it:-) For those who might be interested, or want to see what the Apple TV competition is doing, here is my take:

Someone else had tried watching 12 Monkeys (see thread in PC forum,) so I figured since I haven't seen it in ages, I'll give it a try too and compare.

My connection runs about 6,000k down, so I got rated at 3 (the highest?) by the Netflix server. Looking at the header, it seems like the stream is capped at just over 3,000k.

The movie started streaming in only a few seconds, and it ran smoothly throughout. It caches ahead, so within about 40 or so minutes, it had cached the whole movie, which allows one to move the slider forward (or backwards) and thus skip forward (or backwards.) It can also be paused.

The picture quality was actually pretty good. Not as sharp as a good DVD, more like a non-remastered 70s-80s material. Definitely better than watching, say CNN from Dish, and perhaps even comparable to some of the older up-converted stuff on some of the Dish HD channels.

Looking closely, there was a slight smearing at times, and a slight "Vaseline lens" effect. I wonder if they actually use Flash, because I've seen this effect on material converted to Flash.

The sound was a very decent stereo.

Nevertheless, it looks very watchable, at least on my old 42"plasma. There may be other issues on larger, less forgiving sets. My Intel Mac Mini Dual 1.66, running Vista, had no problems with it at all (didn't expect any:-)

The main issue for me was that you have to play it in Explorer (it refused to play in Firefox, which is what I use in Windows.) Netflix has a button to expand to full screen, so it is fine when viewing the movie, but all navigation must be done with the mouse, which sucks.

Overall, it is a good option to have, particularly as more titles come on line, and because 18 hours of viewing are included in what I already pay to Netflix. If they can get it out of Explorer and into a front-end plug-in, it would be much better.

I sure hope Apple TV follows something like this model, because IMO (I know I repeat myself here:-) flat fee streaming (or downloads) is where the market is going.

Come to think of it, if a news group like CNN starts streaming to a front-end, I might just cancel my satellite service, since I rarely watch it anymore (I loved Voom's HD channels, but since Dish acquired Voom, it has become a little stagnant (not much new programming, and the new stuff is getting dumbed down.)

Anyway, this year should be the Year of Streaming TV, and I hope it shakes out to be good for us.

P.S. It is good enough, that I would suggest that everyone sends an email to Netflix, as well as to Apple, demanding that the service be made available to Mac users. If enough people do it, something may give....

P.S. You can actually skip to any point of the movie before it has cached the whole thing, but if you try to skip, say to the middle, immediately after the movie has started, it takes about 20-30 seconds for it to download the scene and start playing it.
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