Yesterday, Nintendo surprised North America by including its own Netflix application in it’s weekly E-Shop update. 3DS owners have known for a while that Netflix was coming, of course, but with no date or even target month shared, its sudden appearance on July 14th found many in a state of jubilant rejoice. The real question, though, is how well it stacks up against the many other options users have for Netflix steaming. Thankfully, Vagary has got you covered.
UI, Controls, and Ease of Use
Over the last couple months, Netflix has made an effort to bring all of its interfaces under one central look. The 3DS is no different, and anyone who has used Netflix recently will feel right at home. The bottom screen features categorized rows which allow the user to scroll up and down, as well as left and right. The top screen features the box art, star rating, an information snippet on the selection title, and the ability to search by pressing “Y.” Once a movie is begun, it is displayed on the larger top screen while the bottom fades to black until touched. When active, users can pause, stop, and navigate with the flick of a finger, or if they’d prefer, the A, B, L, and R buttons, as well as the directional- and circle-pads.
The 3DS interface works great for navigation and feels uniquely suited to the system’s dual-screen presentation.
That said, load times tend towards the long side, and we’ve experienced several “hangs” in this process that required closing the program to fix.
Picture quality can be hit or miss, though for the most part you probably won’t notice due to the size of the screen. Where issues become most apparent is in pixelation across solid colors, often in areas of shadow or blackness. As with any Netflix application, your mileage may vary depending on your connection speed. We also noticed that many videos seem especially dark unless the screen brightness is turned to the maximum setting.
While watching videos on the 3DS doesn’t seem as GPU intensive as a high-fidelity game, you can expect a solid and consistent drain on your battery while using the service. This is primarily due to the strain constant streaming puts on the system’s wireless card, which will be in effect for the duration of your viewing. While we’ve done no hard tests, we found that a battery can withstand between two and three hours of constant viewing on a fully charged battery. Not bad!
Nintendo and Netflix have done a great job of bringing the service into a new array of users hands. After using the Xbox 360 and PS3’s navigation systems, the transition was incredibly smooth and we never felt the too-familiar sense of sacrifice that often comes with portable iterations on complex interfaces. The inclusion of a search feature is particularly nice and easy to use with the included stylus.
In the end, we’d rate this application with four-out-of-five stars. While the program itself is great, lag and load issues mar what would otherwise be a shining example of a port done right. Still, at the low, low cost of “free,” this is a program no 3DS owner should be without.
Streaming plans begin as low as $7.99 if you’ve yet to sign up.
Rating: 4-out-of-5 Stars