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Watching Netflix Using Your Wii

Update 11/3/2010:  A disc is no longer needed, the Netflix software can be downloaded to the Wii by going into the Wii Shop Channel and installing it.  The Netflix Wii application is a free application in the Wii Shop Channel.

Netflix on the Wii

There seemed to be a lot of interest in our “Free TV – Almost” article, especially surrounding the various ways that you can get Netflix onto your television. Today we are going to specifically address using the Wii to stream Netflix to your television.

This is a great way to save a lot of money, and to get the most out of your Nintendo Wii. Another added benefit to using the Wii is that it provides you with a modest level of reporting so you know how much you’ve watched, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

The Fine Print

First, there are some things you should know about the Wii:

  • The Wii has built-in WiFi support (It can use wireless internet).
  • The Wii should be located closely to your wireless router for optimal performance.
  • The Netflix disc (Yes, there is a disc) must be in the Wii when using the Netflix service.
  • Netflix service will cost you about $8.99 a month.

Wait, you need a disc?

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, there is a disc that is required in order to use the Netflix service. The disc is free, but it must be in the Wii when you are trying to use Netflix.

This is slightly inconvenient if you’re always playing games on it as well, but this is the only way Netflix was able to port their service over to the Wii. In order to get the Disc you can click here.

Is Netflix Setup Easy?

Once you have the disc, you simply pop it into the Wii console and follow the prompts. Once installed you will be able to browse the online library and your “Instant Queue.” The navigation is quick and easy, and the video quality is just as good as standard definition, but it doesn’t appear that high-definition is currently supported.

Does Netflix Need A Good Internet Connection?

In short, yes.  This is where internet quality is very important. If you don’t have your Wii located close enough to your wireless router then the Netflix stream may downgrade to a lower quality stream that is pixellated and somewhat reminiscent of a standard definition YouTube video blown up to full screen. If the internet signal is really bad then the video will stop completely and buffer.  At our household, we simply installed the wireless router right next to our Wii and haven’t had a single quality or buffer issue.

Netflix + Wii = Television Statistics?

The last thing that we really enjoy about the Wii and Netflix is that the Wii has a little bit of reporting built-in. It basically tells you how long you’ve played a game or used one of the applications. For our uses, we can get a rough idea of how long we’ve watched Netflix.

This is helpful if you are trying to gauge how much you’re paying per hour of entertainment. For example, you check your Nintendo Wii logging and see that you’ve only watched 10 hours of Netflix for the month. If you are paying $8.99 per month then you now can tell that watching Netflix cost you about 90 cents per hour. That’s still a lot better than the $5.50 an hour you pay to go to the movie theater!

Summary

In short, pairing Netflix with your Nintendo Wii is a great way to enjoy television and get new information about your watching habits.  By analyzing your watching habits you can better gauge the true value you get from other activities like movie theaters, bowling, or simply the price you pay for cable or satellite.  Using the Wii does come with a few minor drawbacks such as needing to use a disc all the time, but we find the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

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