The GoodFor one thing, the disc is free! All you need is a Netflix account and a Wii. Order the disc, and it'll come in the mail in 1-2 business days. Pop it in your Wii, connect your Wii to your account, and you're good to go with your queue and everything.
For me, it's made Netflix's instant streaming usable again. I've used their PC client a few times, but it only supported Internet Explorer on Windows (blegh), and it's just too much of an investment to pull it up and sit at the computer for the hour or two it takes to watch a movie. You could also use a video-out cable to watch it on your TV, but it's a pain to set up every time; there are too many issues and quirks and popups for it to be a comfortable movie-watching experience
I haven't had any experience with Netflix's streaming on other platforms, like Xbox and PS3, but I'm sure they're a pretty similar experience, or better. I imagine the Wiimote might be more convenient than other systems' controllers, but it doesn't sound like a big issue either way. Lots of people complain that the Wii can't produce 1080p video output, which both other systems can. I don't have a big high-def TV and it doesn't bother me in the least, but if you care about that sort of thing you might want to try the Roku player instead, which has an HD version.
Finally, it's just great having something up and ready to go in your living room. It makes it less of an investment to watch something light while you're doing chores, and opens all kinds of watching options that just wouldn't be worth sitting down to otherwise. I've never had a DVR or pay-per-view or even cable, so it impresses me, but maybe it's nothing new for most other people.
The BadI do have a few gripes:
- The player makes you wait more than it should. Even if you just want to rewind it 2 seconds to hear something you missed, you have to wait the standard download time (10-30 sec. for me).
- There's absolutely no subtitle support.
- It always cuts off the last 2 seconds of audio, and that's surprisingly annoying on a lot of the content.
- There's no search for new titles. They have a lot of navigation categories that normally get the job done: a dozen or so of your typical genres, new arrivals for movies and TV shows, and lists of titles similar to each of 3 recently watched ones.
- You can rate titles and manage an "instant queue" straight from the player, but you can't reorder your queue, and it doesn't let you see or modify anything about your DVD queue. True, that's beyond the scope of a "streaming" disc, but it would be nice.
- No trailers. You just have to start watching the movie and see if you like it.
- It's a shame that it has to take up your disc slot, instead of just being a built-in "Netflix Channel". Every once in a while it gets to be a pain switching out discs to do something else. There's a video on how to use it disc-less, but I haven't gotten around to trying it yet.
Edit 2: And reading the press release, I noticed they've also enhanced the UI to support searching for content by name and viewing the subtitles and alternate audio they have available so far! My list of gripes is dwindling...
The ExperienceSome things are better to watch on the Wii than others. The streaming selection is a bit limited: you're odds are better of finding it if it's independent or a few years old. There are supposedly about 28,000 titles available to watch instantly (as of Sept. 2010), and it keeps growing. I've heard Netflix's big challenge in getting more content is that they don't play the content providers' games to lock down the content; the film studios and TV stations prefer to deal with Hulu and others that let them micromanage the licensing, e.g., restricting your permissions to only play on a standard computer, and not other devices like game systems without an extra cost. But I digress...
The Wii player is great for watching documentaries, especially nature documentaries (or reality shows, if that's what you're into), in the background during the day. It's excellent for watching series, because it tracks your progress and lets you resume on the next episode. It got me to finally watch Firefly, which I would recommend without qualification to anyone, and which redefined my standard for great television. We've pulled our subscription down to one-movie-at-a-time and been watching a lot more on the Wii.
A side note: avoid anything with subtitles! They do sometimes have subtitles burned into the video stream, but more often they just have dubbed versions, and you don't get to pick. I would really like to watch some of the less well-known anime series they have available, but every one I've checked is dubbed, and since they're mostly not the award-winning international successes, all the dubbing I've heard is horrible. YMMV.
Another thing it's great for, in principle, is young children's shows. Kids like to watch the same movies over and over, and sometimes you need to keep them quiet for a little while so you can get housework done or just regain your sanity. You have all your selection right there on your Wii, with no commercials on the TV shows. My baby girl likes to watch Backyardigans and Pingu, and sometimes Arthur (which is an excellent, excellent children's show, by the way). I say it's great "in principle" because their selection still kinda sucks. No Disney classics, no Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers, no educational titles like Baby Einstein and Here Come the ABC's. So it's convenient for what's available, but it's hard to find much variety that's not horribly annoying and not trash.
It's a little hard to keep track of what new titles are being added. There is an RSS feed, but the listing on the Wii player of new titles doesn't seem to show everything and doesn't show them in newest-first order. And, annoyingly, I've noticed some titles that have been pulled off of the streaming list: An American Tail, WALL-E, and soon Fried Green Tomatoes will be.
Now it might sound like I'm watching TV all the time now. Especially with putting the baby in front of the TV, you might think it's unnatural or unhealthy. I think there's a huge difference between TV with annoying, oppressive advertising, that just runs from one show to the next until you don't know where your day went; and commercial-less shows that play one-at-a-time and ask you explicitly if you want to watch something else. You can see your viewing history online, so you have some idea when you're watching too much TV. And I especially like having some of the cartoons we all enjoy, so we can sit down as a family and get snuggle time with the baby.
Overall, it's been really nice having Netflix streaming to the Wii, and I'm still hoping they'll keep making it better and beefing up their selection.