Well, starting today, if you've got a 3DS and live in North America or Canada, you can go to the eShop and download the Netflix app to your SD card and stream movies and TV shows directly to your 3DS over WiFi. Well, that is if you're also a Netflix member. Of course, I know a lot of people who are no longer members after Netflix announced their recent price hikes, but there you go.
The most interesting part of the press release is actually buried after a couple of pull quotes praising the app, where it says: "The new Netflix application for Nintendo 3DS displays movies and TV episodes in 2D on the system's upper screen. Users will soon have access to an additional library of select movies that can be viewed in 3D without the need for special glasses." So it would seem that I may someday be able to watch Step Up 3D on my 3DS in full 3D, which would be awesome. (Still waiting on some information from Nintendo as to whether they're still going to make 3D movies available on the 3DS outside of Netflix, as promised back when the system was in development!)
As it stands, I gave it a shot, and after having a couple of connection issues, finally got through. (I expect the network is a little crowded as it just launched today, so hopefully every time you launch the app it won't take so long to connect and load up.) It asks if you're already a member, and then gives you an activation code that you must go to the website and enter. Once the 3DS has been activated, your Instant Queue loads up. Unfortunately, it only loaded art for the first movie, though it gives an info box as you scroll over each one so you can still tell what you've got. (On a later try, the art all loaded fine.) There are arrows to go up and down, but those don't do anything yet. Presumably they would allow you to browse new releases or recently viewed selections, but I couldn't get it to work. There is a search function, but it was taking so long to search for what I wanted to watch I ended up just going to the site and putting it in my Instant Queue instead. On my Xbox 360 or my computer, it offers Parks and Recreation right on the homepage so I can start watching the next episode with a click. But since that wasn't loading here (or might not be an option), I did the next best thing.
Once I had it in my Instant Queue, I tapped it with the stylus and it let me start the next episode. Buffering didn't take too long, really, and once it was streaming, there were no hiccups. Of course, I was using my home WiFi, so that's going to be the ideal setting anyway. Doubt it would stream as smoothly over a Starbucks or other public WiFi connection. The picture obviously wasn't as clean and sharp as on an iPod Touch/iPhone or a computer in HD, but it was still very watchable. Sound was clear, and picture was colorful and while a touch soft, showed no artifacting or glitches.
I'd probably still stream Netflix over my iPod Touch just because the picture is a little sharper, but if they really do come out with 3D content to stream, then all bets are off! I can't afford a 3D HDTV, so if I can watch 3D movies on the 3DS, I'm there. Even though the screen is small, it's an experience I can't get anywhere else!