Netflix on the 3DS: Do You Need It?
After booting up the eShop channel today on my 3DS, I saw that Netflix was available for download, much to my surprise. As every Netflix aficionado knows, the service is available on many different platforms. You can stream movies and TV shows to your computer, all three major consoles support it, it's available on iOS devices and even pre-installed on Windows 7 phones, and now it's even compatible with Nintendo's 3D handheld. Is it worth checking out?
Connecting your account to your 3DS is as easy as entering a code. The first matter that should be discussed is the interface. If you've been scrolling through movies and TV shows on other devices, you will most likely be familiar with the layout. Content is organized into categories, but you'll first be presented with your Instant Queue, which displays the first few titles in it, along with their respective cover art. Pressing up or down on the D-Pad scrolls through the different categories, such as New Releases, Comedies, and Horror, as well as recommendations based on what you like to watch. The interface presentation looks great and can be viewed in 3D, which hurt my eyes and didn't add any interactivity or depth to browsing. However, a big issue---possibly due to the number of people currently trying to access the app---is the load times. Even the cover art took a good two minutes to load; the episodes themselves required longer.
You can search for titles by pressing the Y button and then typing out the name. It automatically searches as you type, much like it works on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, helping to bring up results fairly quickly. After selecting the title you want to watch, you can add it to your Instant Queue, give it a star rating, or play it---all of these functions carried out on the bottom screen. It's an intuitive design that makes navigating with the lower touch screen much quicker and easier.
I'm not entirely familiar with the iOS app, but I know for a fact that my 360 doesn't support the option for subtitles. This is a personal gripe for me as I tend to always have subtitles on for whatever I watch because I don't like to miss anything. So I was surprised to see a subtitle option available, though not for every video. The subtitles themselves are in all caps and are an ugly bright yellow color, which is a bit off-putting---but at least they are there! The bottom screen stays mainly black but can show the play bar and a time stamp of how far along you are in the video. I successfully watched three episodes of The Office, a bit of Iron Man 2, and even took a nostalgic trip with a few Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episodes.
I can't say that the quality of each video is as crisp as it might be on an iPhone, which has a much higher resolution, but it gets the job done. The videos are clear and play smoothly without any sort of lag. It is a shame, however, that the 3DS version doesn't include any older 3D movies for viewing, as that would be an amazing way for people to watch 3D movies without the hassle of ugly glasses. As of right now, you might as well keep that 3D slider all the way down.
Let's face it: if you're already a Netflix streaming subscriber, chances are you already own another portable device that lets you stream content to it---probably in much higher quality. Couple that with the fact that you can't really watch anything unless you're connected to Wi-Fi at home or at a hotspot, and you've eliminated a lot of places that you can actually put it to good use. That isn't to say that the app isn't worth it. It has all the features you would come to expect by now, including subtitles and the massive library of things to watch; it's also free to use, assuming you're a current subscriber. But if you're strictly a 3DS owner who hasn't yet jumped on board the Netflix train, you might want to wait until the app gets slightly updated and acquires some 3D movies for its library, which Nintendo already confirmed will appear.