I recently wrote about the usability of user interfaces for streaming video, and concluded hands down that Netflix had the nicest. My only gripe was the fact that it was so smart, and left such little control to the user, that I’d often find myself in the situation where it had done a check to determine the optimal bit-rate quality of video for my connection, and I’d be left with a stream that was super-low resolution (my apartment building’s ‘free’ ethernet is abysmal).
Well, tonight, as a cosied up my laptop to stream the movie “The Orphanage,” I realized that a high-quality video is sometimes, not just a nice-to-have, but a necessity! Streaming at 500Kbps, the subtitles on this foreign film bore more of a likeness to bloody 8-Bit Super Marios that had been shitbeat by Koopa Troopers than Roman characters. Well, I guess it serves me right for trying to watch a foreign film instead of just watching the whatever the latest episode of 30 Rock is over and over again.
So I decided to consult the interwebs on this issue. Sure enough, with the help of The Google, and this post on a site called Hacking Netflix, I found out a way. It’s actually pretty simple! While in the streaming Netflix player in Internet Explorer, click anywhere in the black surrounding the film, and then press Shift-B. In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll see a pop-up menu with a set of available bit-rates. Choose at your discretion though — you’re disobeying the Netflix monkey behind the scenes who’s dilligently calculating the optimal stream rate for your connection.
So what if I could have watched the 500Kbps version in the amount of time I now have to wait for the 1600 Kbps version to queue up
Huzzah for sticking it to the Netflix man!