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Netflix makeover brings improved search and recommendations

netflix new
The new Netflix look, with big images and context for recommendation emphasized.Netflix

Fans of streaming TV will notice big changes in Netflix starting Wednesday: The company has redone its interface to be smarter and faster. If you're on a big, full-HD screen, you should find the new look pleasing.

The new look isn't quite "radically new," but it is a welcome change to the functional but ho-hum interface millions have seen every day for a couple years now.

The biggest change is more of a focus on images and previews from the show or movie you're considering. So long static promotional pictures, hello actual screenshots — including from each individual episode. Quick summaries and video previews for each episode help catch you up on who's still alive if you're behind on "Sons of Anarchy."

There's also a faster and more visual search, so when you're sure that movie had Al Pacino but you don't remember anything else, start typing it in and look for a familiar setting in the visual preview.

Each series or movie now shows a bit more data on why it was recommended to you. Been watching a lot of Emmy winners? Here's another one. Just finished "Weeds"? Here's the creator's new show. And of course if you choose to connect with Facebook, you'll get recommendations and stats from there as well.

Lastly, the profiles include a redesigned "kids mode," now available on consoles and set-top boxes. Set your preferences, pick a few appropriate shows, and hand over the controller or remote with confidence.

Compatible devices, which include "PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Roku 3, newer Smart TVs and recent Blu-ray players," will get the new look some time in the next two weeks, but if you're lucky it will come Wednesday. The Xbox One will have its own separate look, and older devices will get the update later.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is