Finally, another reason to Not Go Out will arrive in New Zealand: Netflix. That is, Netflix has been here already for years, courtesy of virtual private networks, geo-unblocking services and file sharing, but next year all going well, the Internet movie service provider should be here officially.

SkyTV, Spark's Lightbox and Quickflix who were here first pretend in public they're not concerned about Netflix arriving and say they have the content licensing for New Zealand stitched up, but that's just bluster.

Even if some providers have exclusive licensing - and that's in some cases for Netflix content as well - the US giant as evidenced by the 53 million users and $28 billion market capitalisation, probably doesn't need a first-mover advantage and can be patient.

Already, analysts Sandvine peg Netflix traffic in New Zealand and Australia at around four per cent of the peak downstream capacity. That's with Netflix not even having launched in the region.


In the US, Netflix regularly generates over a third of all Internet traffic and there's no reason to think our part of the world will be any different.

More of a worry for Netflix is being able to reach potential customers on the New Zealand Internet. Over the top content providers such as Netflix are often disliked by network infrastructure who feel they should get a slice of action too.

In the United States, Netflix slugged it out with giant broadcaster, content producer, cable and Internet provider Comcast which wanted money to provide high-speed access to its customers.

Comcast was too big for Netflix, and might become even larger if its proposed merger with Time-Warner goes through. Netflix had to pay to avoid traffic to Comcast's 22 million customers being slowed down or degraded.

I asked Spark if it would allow Netflix traffic on its network, or prioritise Lightbox data. The answer was: "We don't prioritise any streaming video on demand service."

Vodafone declined to answer the same question, so we'll see what happens come March next year.

One difference between Netflix and other providers is that the company is technologically savvy which fits naturally with its delivery platform - the Internet - and has actively released a large range of the tools it uses as open source.

Netflix is hosted on Amazon Web Services, another Internet giant, so when the latter appeared in Sydney, the former was sure to follow.


Some NZ Internet providers cottoned onto this, and have been installing Netflix caches in their networks on the quiet, and started peering or connecting directly to the streaming video service in Sydney.

Others seemed surprised and concerned at the speeds required, especially for the 4K ultra-high definition service. Here's the full list of speed bands for different quality levels:

•0.5 Megabits per second - Required broadband connection speed
•1.5 Megabits per second - Recommended broadband connection speed
•3.0 Megabits per second - Recommended for SD quality
•5.0 Megabits per second - Recommended for HD quality
•25 Megabits per second - Recommended for Ultra HD quality

VDSL2 copper broadband should be OK if only just for UHD quality video but really, a UFB fibre-optic connection's where it's at.

As for data caps, you'll want a big one or an unlimited broadband account with Netflix, as per the estimated data usage figures:

•Low (0.3 GB per hour)
•Medium (SD: 0.7 GB per hour)
•High (best video quality, up to 3 GB per hour for HD, 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD)

... that's a fair whack of data if you happen to have time to watch Netflix. Upgrade your connections if you do, and Chorus, please wheel out UFB in my area as well?

Gear: Sony Xperia Z3

Sony's Xperia range of Android smartphones

isn't selling well

which is a bit strange as most of the ones I've tried out are class acts.

The Z3 which goes for a dollar under a grand if bought outright is no exception. It's nicely designed with a weather and dust-sealed case, and has a very good 5.2" screen with 1,920 by 1,080 pixel resolution.

You wouldn't want to drop the Z3 as the case has glass on both sides, but it feels and looks good, although the sealing flaps to cover the USB port, memory card and SIM slots are a bit fiddly.

There's a 2.5GHz quad core Krait 400 processor inside the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset and the Z3 is a snappy performer with little lag or animation stutter.

Photographers should be reasonably happy with the camera in the Z3 (which appears to be the same as in the older Z1 and the smaller Z3 compact, judging by the specifications) which has a dedicated shutter release button on the side of the case.

This has up to 20.7 megapixel resolution, but that's only in "manual" mode which gives you a some controls over the exposure. In Superior Auto, the resolution is 8Mpixel. The latter mode is the only way to get the very high ISO light sensitivity levels over 3200 as well.

And yes, the Z3 has 4K video, at thirty frames per second, plus digital image stabilisation. I thought still image quality was fairly good, maybe not quite as sharp as the pics I get out of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, but the manual controls on the Z3 are fun to play with.

Video at 4K is very nice, although faster 50/60fps for smother action requires dropping down to standard high definition at 1080 resolution.

Using the camera for longer periods of time chews up the battery that otherwise lasts a long time, at least a day and a half with moderate usage. The Z3 can also get very hot when pushed hard.

Sony has an extensive content and software store - games, music, movies - on top of Google's Play store, so if you're in the Android camp, there's plenty to avail yourself of.

The Z3 that I had ran Android 4.4.4 with no updates offered during the review period. Sony has however committed to updating the whole premium Z range to Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Z3 being one of the first to receive the upgrade early next year.

So why isn't it a Sony for many smartphone users then? Well, ignoring Apple, the Xperia Z3 has lots of competition from Samsung, HTC, and the Japanese makers' previous models that are also nice and can be had for less money.

That said, the Xperia Z3 is a very nice Android device so if you can get a good deal on it, don't overlook Sony's flagship smartphone.

Dark energy at University of Auckland

Nobel Prize winner Brian Schmidt from the Australian National University and Tamara Davis from the Uni of Queensland will be in Auckland on December 10 to give free lectures.

Brian and Tamara are not only top scientists but I'm told they're great talent and fantastic speakers too.

The lecture at the University of Auckland is free, so if astrophysics appeals, register for it here.

Year 11, 12 and 13 students interested in said stuff can hop in on two plenary talks, try analysis of data from supernova explosions and the Large Hadron Collider and more at UoA as part of the Cosmology and Particle Astrophysics 2014 conference. Again, free, but places are limited. Details here.