Netflix Is Fixing The Biggest Problem With TVs: How Slow They Are

TV manufacturers have spent years trying to one-up each other on picture quality and affordability, but consistently fell short in one key area: user experience.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

TVs would take ages to turn on, then you'd have to go through several different menus before swapping to the HDMI setting and smart TV interfaces were painfully clunky.

Things are slowly changing, and with more people consuming media on smartphones and tablets, they're expecting the same type of experience. Sony has embraced Android, LG has WebOS and Samsung has Tizen, an operating system it also uses on its smartwatches.

But things weren't moving enough for Netflix, so the streaming giant decided to use the influence of its 75 million users globally to help push developments. They launched the Netflix "Recommended TV" program last year, where TVs that meet its user experience criteria get a tick of approval and feature on its website.

At Netflix's global HQ in Los Gatos, California, the streaming giant has several rooms dedicated to testing hundreds of devices that support Netflix to determine which ones offer the best experience.

To be added to the Netflix Recommended TV list, TVs have to meet 5 of 7 different criteria, mostly around speed.

The Netflix Recommended TV logo that will appear with TVs. Photo: Paul Sakuma.

The first two TVs to meet the 2016 criteria are LG's new line with WebOS 3.0 and Sony's 4K Android TVs. Business Insider had a look at them in Los Gatos last week and compared them to 2015's flagship TVs. The difference is huge.

Most noticeably, the instant on and TV resume features made them feel more like a giant tablet waking up than turning on a TV. In less than 5 seconds, it went from off and into the last thing you were doing - in this case, the second episode of season 3 of House of Cards. The 2015 Sony TV next to it took nearly 40 seconds to achieve the same thing, from waiting for the TV to turn on, then navigating through menus to open the Netflix app.

Netflix launched the program in 2015, with dozens of TVs by the likes of Sony, LG, Samsung and Hisense making the list. The criteria has been tightened right up in 2016, resulting in every TV on last year's list being dropped. The things people care about, like ease of navigation and speed haven't changed, but standards have to reflect newer technology.

Importantly, Netflix says that it's not judging TVs on picture quality, with neither the colour, refresh rate or resolution counting towards the rating. It's simply the user experience.

Both the Sony and LG TVs are available in Australia. The Sony version features a dedicated Netflix button.

Harry Tucker traveled to Los Gatos as a guest of Netflix.


Comments

    This is great. Most consumer devices have truly horrible interfaces.

    When everything is "instant on" no one will have a second in their day when they're not "doing" something. Dopamine is becoming a more dangerous drug than anything the government is fighting a war against.

    I'm happy for the ten seconds it takes my television to turn on and display a picture so my brain can reset itself.

      It takes you 10 seconds of "nothing" to reset your brain...

      you could just sit in your chair for 10 seconds then turn on the screen......

      i just cant even right now

        And yet you just did. Just then.

      Apparently it takes a good few months of abstaining from instant-gratification behaviours to reset your dopamine receptor values to something approaching 'normal'. :(

    The clunky interfaces is why my next TV will be selected on image quality with me attaching a box (Apple TV or the like) to it for the "smart" functions but I think the biggest problem for me (and probably most Australians) will be the inability to get internet access at something useful like 100Mbs.

    I don't understand why the 2015 android 4k TV can't do the same. They should be running the same software (made by google).

      I don't navigate any menus on my 2015 Sony TV to get into Netflix - I press the Netflix button on the remote...

        I meant the "instant on" etc should be doable. I imagine they are both arm based android devices.

    Bought a Sony 55" 4K Bravia for my bedroom last week. It's got the Netflix button on the remote. The Android TV experience was HORRIBLE until I did the OS Update. Now it's GREAT. Used it to Binge watch Daredevil Season 2 in glorious 4K using the built-in Netflix client and I have to say that it was thoroughly enjoyable experience.

    This is the first time I've ever used the "Smart" portion of a Smart TV for more than about 5 minutes before giving up in disgust.

    Netflix pushing manufacturers to improve their Smart TV UE has definitely had positive results - at least in my experience.

    (I do have to say though that I had to go through and disable a bunch of Sony bloatware in the OS before I was truly happy with it.)

    Last edited 22/03/16 4:11 pm

      Yeah I got the 4k 55" during the jbhifi sale last year. Amazing TV once the extra crap is disabled and the OS is updated. And now the play store version of animelab runs on it it's even better (built in version had issues that didn't seem to be getting patches)

    this is the reason i use the xbox. i leave the tv set to hdmi, i used the kinect to turn the tv on, i then iether go to netflix or watch live tv. and it only takes 10 seconds from booting the xbox

    I still don't Understand what the hell the Chrome cast is doing when it boots... Its a solid state device what has it got to load?

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