Well, I had a chance to play with it, and I must say I’m quite satisfied.
Previously, we were streaming Netflix to an HTPC over 802.11g and we were not thrilled with the quality - we have a low-power single-core AMD processor that came highly recommended on Newegg for use in HTPC’s. We stream DVDs wirelessly to the same system from our home server in VOB format, and the quality is fine, so I thought that it was the network overhead from Netflix using up most of our wi-fi bandwidth. I guess I had assumed if our PC was fast enough to render streamed DVDs, Netflix shouldn’t be a problem.
Well, the PS3 obviously has a lot more processing power than a low-end Athlon 64, which must be the deciding factor, because the quality on PS3 is outstanding. We watched Groundhog Day in standard def, and it looked near-DVD quality, while streaming it to the PC usually gives us a blocky mess. I could swear that old Monty Python eps look better than they do on standard def TV, and all the other standard def stuff was equally impressive.
As for HD, I tried an episode of CSI, and it looked great. Tried some other HD content, and the only complaint I have was on an episode of Star Trek: TOS in HD. I saw some very odd motion artifacts - horizontal banding that appeared during fast movement, that I haven’t seen in other titles.
The interface is much different than on a PC - you can’t search for specific titles that you haven’t added to your Instant Queue. However, you can search through the top 100 movies in a wide array of genres, and browse similar titles to other titles in your instant queue. Honestly, if we have a hankering to watch something specific, I can pop into the PS3’s browser and add a title to my instant queue that way. Aside from a bit of slowdown populating the different categories while browsing, it’s a decent interface, and the experience is equally comfortable with a controller or BluRay remote.
As I’m typing this, I tried out some Netflix titles on my main PC just to double-check my impressions. My main PC is decently fast - a dual-core Athlon X2, decent video card, and a hardwired internet connection - yet the quality on the PS3 is significantly better. So the PS3 appears to handle wi-fi streaming just fine. And I’m a very happy camper.