Netflix Throwdown: PS3 vs Xbox 360


posted 11/11/2009 by Dan Keener
other articles by Dan Keener
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Like all other Netflix authorized devices (including the 360), I did have to activate my PS3 on my Netflix account. It was a simple step that involved logging into the Netflix account through a PC and entering the code generated from the Netflix Instant Streaming Disc. In under five seconds (not the three minutes suggested), my PS3 was activated and ready to stream content.

Comparison Testing
I actually became a Netflix subscriber just over a year ago when I purchased a Playstation 3 for my birthday. I envisioned streaming of content to the Xbox 360 while getting Blu-Ray rentals sent out to me to play in my PS3, and that is essentially how I have used Netflix to date. So it was easy to test the PS3 version against what I have come to expect from my Xbox 360. The obvious place to start was exactly how the Instant Streaming Disc on the PS3 would affect the startup performance of Netflix when compared to the dashboard integration on the Xbox 360. To measure this, I did some comparison testing of the various load times for the two systems, as this appeared like it would be the major difference. What I found was a bit of a surprise.

The initial comparison was from the point the Netflix option was chosen off the PS3 XrossMediaBar Bar or Xbox 360 Dashboard (essentially launching the service) until I was able to view the titles and move around. When I booted the Netflix disc on the PS3, it took anywhere from 30 - 35 seconds (I took multiple timings with a stopwatch) to get to a screen where you could navigate through the streaming movie list. Conversely, the Xbox 360 allowed you to being sifting through content within 15-18 seconds after selecting the Netflix option from the Video Marketplace. One side note is that popped up is that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions took several seconds (PS3 took 15 seconds, 360 took 6 seconds) after selecting the Netflix option where the screen was just black until the familiar Netflix logo showed up. I was actually a bit surprised at thee numbers (2-1 ratio); because the disc never sounds like it is being used once Netflix appears on the XrossMediaBar. One item of note is that the Xbox 360 Netflix version does show you that it is checking the quality of the signal for the best available streaming option and whether HD content can be sent. The PS3 does not display this on-screen while loading, but it is quite possible that this check also takes place.

The next timing test caught me even more off-guard. After seeing a large 2-1 gap in intial load times, I was expecting something similar when booting up your chosen selection. However, it turns out that after four timings for each, the load times from selection to playback was an identical five or so seconds for both the PS3 and Xbox 360. I would guess that this is a direct result the home network, wireless connection and Netflix response time, but I expected some gap to exist. To me, this is a huge win for the PS3 version, as the response time being equal once you are into the service is quite impressive due to the completely different delivery methods.
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