Now that Netflix's Watch Instantly is on both TiVo and Microsoft's Xbox 360, the natural question for you, Señor and Señorita tech enthusiast, is which one of these two should YOU use to watch Netflix on. The answer, surprisingly, is whichever one you want. Updated 2:33 PM EST

Here's how they both compared in video quality, navigation (getting around inside a movie), and general UI experience (queueing up movies to watch).

Advertisement

• Video Quality: Tie. We got up to the maximum bars of quality on both TiVo and Xbox 360 for an HD movie, which meant Netflix was streaming the same file content to us on either device. This boiled the visual quality down to each box's respective rendering capability, and it was pretty impossible to tell the difference between the two. The tie means that in terms of quality, you're fine going off with either machine. When watching one of the couple hundred of HD movies on Netflix, you'll get a slightly better than DVD quality experience no matter which one you go with. (Strangely enough, we got one bar down from maximum quality while streaming an SD movie, even though we were able to hit max on an HD one.)

• Navigation: Tie. The Xbox 360 still has the problem of not being able to fast forward or rewind, but only jump around in 10(ish) minute increments. TiVo, on the other hand, CAN fast forward and rewind through the entire movie. There's a lower-resolution video stream that pops up while seeking to show you where you are in the movie, minimizing guesswork as best it can. Unfortunately, only the 7 second skip back feature was implemented to fine-tune your FFing and RWing; the 30 second skip forward forwards you all the way to the end of the movie.

Update The Xbox 360 actually can fast forward, but not in HD titles (the ones we tested, including The Thing). SD titles seek by way of thumbnailed pictures, slightly different from the way TiVo does it. Thanks to the commenters that pointed this out. They also say that some HD content is able to be FF'ed through.

Advertisement

• General UI: Tie. You have to add titles from your browser on your computer for both the boxes, since neither one has an on-board Netflix browsing system. The Xbox 360 does have a slightly nicer way of presenting each show, but nothing that should sway you one way or the other.

What these ratings mean for you is that you're fine watching Netflix on whichever device you currently have, and shouldn't feel the need to go out and buy the other one. If you've got TiVo and Xbox 360, we'd prefer TiVo's implementation because of the fast forwarding and rewinding feature.