Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nice Guys Sleep Alone

Tonight I finally did it: I subscribed to Netflix (private note to Brian Brushwood: Yes, I did go to www.netflix.com/scamschool, and I did remember the www!). Right now there's not that much on TV (network or cable) of interest, and I really wanted to start seeing some movies that seemed interesting, but I missed for whatever reason. Not only that, but the TiVo is among several Netflix-enabled devices that can view any of the "instant view" movies online (instead of watching them on the computer).

So to stay on topic with some of my more recent rants, I decided to watch Nice Guys Sleep Alone (romantic comedy from 1999) tonight on the TiVo directly from Netflix. I saw the title and it just kind of felt right.

My opinions on the movie: The title definitely led me to a movie that was right in-line with my more recent rants on relationships. The plot is predictable, and the movie was a tad too long (it did drag along in places). The overall feel of the movie was along the lines of The Tao Of Steve, but I felt "Nice Guys" was kinder to the characters in many ways. If you're a nice guy and can identify with some of the things I've said about nice guys and relationships here, then this is a feel-good movie that will not disappoint. In fact, I think that the message in the movie is a good one, and perhaps shines a glimmer of hope on the relationship front. I also liked the movie's musical soundtrack, overall. See the IMDB link above for more info.

Of course, no posting of mine would be complete without an evaluation of the technology employed by this movie viewing tonight.
  • Netflix sign-up process and initial web site reaction: No problems whatsoever. Simple to do - just fill-in the blanks and you're ready to go.
  • Selecting movies: A bit cumbersome, but I think it will get easier over time. If you think about how a walk through Blockbuster Video would be if you took it online, that's how Netflix is...only with more movies.
  • TiVo set-up: I went to the TiVo web site and they had a big Netflix banner plastered on the "My TiVo" tab. I selected that, and just followed directions: Go to the Netflix menu selection on the TiVo, tell the TiVo to sign-up, and the TiVo will display a "password" of sorts on the screen. You then go to your computer, follow the link included, and enter that password into the blank as directed. Netflix acknowledges that your TiVo is linked, and the TiVo displays a message that you've signed-up successfully. How simple is that?! Once linked to your Netflix account, you don't need to sign-on with the TiVo again.
  • Movie selection: For TiVo viewing you need to select the movies using your computer and put them into the Netflix "instant" viewing queue (only certain movies can be viewed instantly). Anything in this queue is viewed in a list on the TiVo when you select the option to view a Netflix movie. It would be nice to look through the movie selection using the TiVo, but doing it through a browser on the computer isn't too bad either. My suggestion is to put a bunch of movies into your instant queue so you can select something you've wanted to see without having to haul-out the laptop.
  • Picture quality: Very good. For this movie, it was just a tad short of DVD-quality. I was happy that it displayed properly in widescreen (no magic or TV tampering required). The audio was excellent and sounded great on the home theater system. I would recommend renting the DVD for an action movie or something with a lot of detail, rather than viewing online, because I think the overall experience will be better in this case. For many movies, though, losing a little picture quality for the convenience of being able to just see it now is worthwhile.
  • Streaming: People have told me that sometimes the movies are slightly jerky or have problems while playing. I had absolutely no trouble at all. The TiVo obviously runs a special Netflix viewer application internally (it even displays a special version number for it), and I think that the viewer is designed to work well on a variety of broadband connections. When you start the movie, the viewer measures the connection speed before playing. Other than that, there were no delays to start watching. The only delay was when I tried to back-up a few seconds at the credits. It seems that if you back up more than a second or two, it has to re-buffer some of the movie, which takes a few more seconds. Otherwise, no big deal. I'm sure that network congestion may clobber the movie slightly at some time, but everything was fine tonight. I saw no jerkiness or any other indication that the movie was playing from an online source. It felt like I was watching the DVD. Keep in mind that my TiVo is hard-wired to the network (not wireless).
So in short, I'm giving the Netflix experience the thumbs-up so far. All my friends who have the service have said good things about it, and in general people only have good things to say. So now that I'm a subscriber, will they stop sending me those annoying ads in the mail?! Seriously guys, stop killing all those trees. I get more Netflix "movie ticket" ads in the mail now than AOL CDs years ago.

Couch potato land...here I come...

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