Netflix Party Play In Action

The update to Xbox 360's Netflix, which came as a separate download, deals with many of the issues that the streaming service had, but introduces a couple of new one.

I use Netflix on my Xbox 360 almost weekly, streaming Tristan-friendly movies onto our big screen for Friday night movies together. One of the biggest drawbacks to the service was that I had to go somewhere else to look through and then find the movie I wanted to watch.

This update, which hits the 360 on Aug. 11, seems to list all of the movies available through Netflix right on your Xbox 360. The movies are broken down by genre and include separate lists for both New Releases and family-friendly New Releases.

Unfortunately, that growing list of movies didn't appear to be sortable, meaning you have to just scroll through each genre looking for something you may want to watch. Since they weren't already alphabatized, and there is no search function, this can make movie selection on the 360 frustrating at times. The new look also doesn't include any of the suggestion lists found on Netflix proper.

Another neat function is the ability to watch a movie through Netflix with friends. You just create a party in the service and, if the friend has Netflix too, add them to your list. Then you can all suggest movies and once you decide on what you want to watch start playing.

The movie party room shows your avatar sitting in a dark room on a couch facing a big screen, which displays the movie. The avatars can emote silently during playback and it appears you can also talk to one another. It's a pretty neat idea.

One thing I didn't like about it though is that not all Netflix movies seem to support the service. I found several Starz and Disney movies I couldn't watch. Worse still, those movies are marked as not being viewable in a party until you try to select them or look at their info. Hopefully, that's something Microsoft will fix in the near future.

The final Netflix enhancement is the ability to let your friends see which movies you're watching while in the service by viewing your account. This can easily be turned on or off, but it's a fun idea.


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