As some might know I am a home theatre enthusiast that, at the end of last year, finally got into Blu-Ray partly due to the excellent writings by Roo. I was armed with a Playstation 3 and the Netflix disk service where I payed the extra $1/month charge to get Blu-Ray disks instead of DVDs. Only problem is that I kept getting disks that were slightly cracked or suffered from minuscule disk fractures which yielded the following Playstation 3 error code: 80029940.
Obviously, this was a terrible way to start enjoying the Blu-Ray experience. My only saving grace was that I had bought my own Blu-Ray disk, The Dark Knight, before renting the disks from Netflix and already knew that my player was not at fault.
After searching the various Playstation and home theatre forums and working with Netflix tech support, I discovered the following:
- Blu-Ray disks are more fragile than DVDs and therefor susceptible to cracking and disk fractures.
- Netflix has been working with the USPS to ensure that all mail is not processed by machine which causes the disks to crack. By reporting disk issues and even calling support, you can help Netflix work with the USPS to correct issues with your service.
- I read in some forums that you might need to turn the HDMI super white level off along with a few other custom display settings on your Playstation 3 to prevent the 80029940 code. Don’t believe the hype as I found none of this to be true. More often than not, it is a cracked disk (even if not noticeable by the naked eye).
During the course of the weekend I started making use of the Netflix “Watch Instantly” feature which means that I am able to watch video content streamed via the internet.
Unfortunately, the tech specs are limited:
- Windows Vista or Windows XP with Service Pack 2.
- Internet Explorer version 6 or higher.
- Windows Media Player version 11.
Questions & Answers
In case you are a current Netflix member and wondering how the “Watch Instantly” feature works, here are some official answers from Netflix:
- What are the limits?: “Netflix membership plans that come with unlimited DVDs per month come with unlimited instant watching, regardless of the number of discs you may have at home at any given time. Plans with a cap on monthly total discs come with a specific number of instant watching hours per month. Click here to view the full details for your plan.”
- How does is this feature related to my queue?: “Watching instantly and your DVD Queue are unrelated. Even if you have the same title in your DVD Queue, watching that title instantly won’t delete it automatically.”
- How does my internet speed affect the video?: “The speed of your Internet connection can change frequently based on network conditions in your residence and your Internet Service Provider’s system. The faster your internet connection, the better your video quality. Still, we automatically adjust Instant Viewing video quality to give you the best possible image for your connection speed.The faster your internet connection, the better your video quality. Still, we automatically adjust Instant Viewing video quality to give you the best possible image for your connection speed.”
Not all video in my queue is available for playback but I was happy to see that Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was available (notice the play button next to each disk):
Clicking the play button will launch the player. Depending on whether you have the necesary software installed, you might have to proceed through some software upgrades before viewing the video. If all is good, then you’ll start seeing the Netflix load screen:
Once the movie loads, you can then switch from player to full screen mode. The video stream tries to keep streaming ahead so that you have a sufficient buffer. However, sometimes the movie will pause and you will get something like this:
In my situation, I was the only one using a dedicated network (jacked in directly to the router). I’m sure there are a bunch of performance tweaks that could be made for the hard core user of this service.
At times I noticed some choppiness when the camera would pan across the screen. I also switched to a wireless connection and noticed that the video was still good but the load times were longer. At one point, I noticed my connection being so bad that the video was being corrected to stream at a much lower resolution where the video became quite pixelated.
The video quality is much better than Joost but openHulu might prove to be a strong competitor. However, being a home theatre nut, I’ll most like use this to service to sample video before adding to the queue for watching properly on my home theatre system. Even if I hook the laptop up to my home theatre system, I’m getting video and audio quality that still pails in comparison to DVD and even Blu-Ray.
My search for digital video on par or better than Blu-Ray quality still continues.