With great fanfare today Microsoft and Netflix announced that subscribers can now use their Kinect systems to control their Netflix movie accounts with hand gestures and voice commands. How exciting! If it actually worked . . .
Early reports on the performance of the interface are leaning toward it sucking. Bad.
"Let's find out how long it takes to select and watch our favorite Netflix movie using Kinect instead of the Xbox 360 controller!" That was the simple metric we wanted to try to test the new Kinect support in the Xbox version of Netflix. I suspected that it'd take a little bit longer to use Kinect's motion controls, but that it'd be worth the extra time to forgo the controller entirely.
I didn't suspect the time difference would be infinity.
At issue doesn't seem to be any malfunction, but rather just the limits of what the interface can do by design. Apparently users can only pick movies from the "Suggestions For You" list, and they can't pick movies they actually want to watch.
Sort of defeats the purpose of using Netflix, unless one just watches everything the service suggests.
Of course there's no need to panic for Microsoft or for Netflix users. Updates and patches will no doubt come out early and often, and, one would hope, will soon fix the rather huge limitations of the interface.
In the meantime, users who want to shake their fists and yell at their Xbox-based Netflix accounts are still free to do so. They just shouldn't expect much in return.