Monday, January 19, 2009

Netflix - Not all it is cracked up to be

This weekend really proved what a disappointment the Netflix streaming service is (or has become).

At first the service seemed to work quite well actually. Very rarely would we have any hiccups in streaming a movie, or issues with quality.
I have tried many ways to get this to work well since about 2 weeks ago, and have hardly watched any movies since.

The issue comes around 5pm or "Primetime".

This morning for example, I decided to try and start a movie, and I can watch the loader come up within seconds, the movie itselfs starts within 5 seconds...and I am off.
The evening rolls around, and then the movie loader can take between 15-30 seconds...not a big deal eh?
Then the movie buffers.
We can wait for a total of 5 minutes for the movie to buffer.
Then within 1 - 10 minutes, the service states our Internet connection has slowed, and will rebuffer, which got it...another 5 minutes.

This weekend really proved just how bad the service is.

We attempted to watch an old Horror classic, The Thing, John Carpenters remake version. Probably one of his best movies ever.
The service was SO bad, we resorted to to watch it, complete with their commercials, but the quality was on par, and even somewhat better, and ZERO hiccups (at the same time of night).

So, I attempted to discuss this with Netflix to find out what is going on, and what struck me as odd, as I talked with their tech support, was the technicians constant denial that they were doing anything on their side...even when I had not said anything about them having issues on their side.
They of course blame the ISP. Who wouldn't?
The technician states that they must have 1.5Mbps for standard movies, and 3Mbps for HD.
Ok...I have 10Mbps.
"Well, we do know that as Cable internet goes through the day, more people will log on and slow down the connection".
Ok...but, why is it I can watch Hulu HD with zero issues? And NO BUFFERING?

I experiemented with a ton of settings, but have had no luck finding a fix on my side. And so I tested other services.
Blockbusters Movielink system (though relegated to Internet Explorer and Windows) would play the movie INSTANTLY, and still continue downloading in the background. Amazon unbox worked on and off, but of course they only showed trailers. I could not test a full movie there.

It is understandable that the service is new for the Xbox, but the PC version acts the same way.
It has even gotten to the point that we are worried about starting a movie due to the problem now.
We started to watch another classic last night...Tommy by The Who! (no, it is not just classics btw), and within 5 minutes of starting and buffering, it hiccuped, and started to buffer again..

We quit, and played Resident Evil 4.

We are not alone though, and hopefully this is just growing pains for Netflix. But, if someone wanted a recommendation for their online streaming, I would give it a pass...


Ezra said...

I just wanted to say, I have used Netflix steaming for a little over 6 months now and NEVER have I had a movie stop to buffer on my PC. My PC is running on a wired network and my ISP provides me with *up to* 20Mbps.

On my xbox, it is more common. However, I strongly believe this is due to the fluctuating wifi signal my xbox gets. When the signal is good, I can watch movies / shows without a hitch. When it is bad signal, the quality drops so far as to make it near unwatchable quality. Note that I am using wifi from the apartment above me. I don't know what speed they pay for with their connection.

Netflix streaming on PC = flawless.

Netflix streaming on wifi xbox = as hit or miss as my wifi signal.

Openedge1 said...

Well, that is a good point about the wireless.
I use it on both the PC and the Xbox due to the house layout.
But, I also have a 96% signal ratio, and it is an N wireless adapter/router combo that connects at 300Mbps.
But, I will test that theory to see if I can rectify that.
May be time to rewire the house eh?


Openedge1 said...

Update: Netflix is crap...

More on this later...on the phone with these losers..