Netflix surprised its users by rolling out a significant update to its Web video player, one that improves the experience while adding more options and information. In short, it now looks like a video player instead of a computer interface.

Those who watch on a TV screen will immediately notice that the controls are bigger and easier to use than before. They scale smaller, too, if users want to shrink the viewer down to focus on something else that’s on their computer or other screen – like work, maybe, or an incoming VoIP call.

Viewers also can browse other episodes of a TV show without leaving the one they’re watching, and clicking the pause button causes popups to appear with information about the program or movie. In general the look of the controls is simpler, too. Labels have been replaced with icons, and they’re now all in a single line.

In other positive news for the company, Netflix chief financial officer David Wells spoke at a J.P. Morgan event on Wednesday, during which he said that many new subscribers were actually returning customers who had left due to the price increase and confusion over the DVD side of the business.

TechCrunch quoted him as saying, “Rejoined or folks rejoining the service still remain about a third of our new subscribers that are coming in. Even streaming-only subscriptions, who should not have faced an impact, reacted to last year. We think that’s a result of the negative PR, the swirl that was around the brand and the company will dissipate over time. We even saw that in Canada, which you could argue should not have seen it.”

Check the latest price here [NFLX], however, which indicates investors may not share Wells’ optimism.

Related links:

Netflix blog – post by Michael Spiegelman, director of product innovation for the Website and Tablet

VentureBeat – Netflix web video player gets a gorgeous new design

TechCrunch – Netflix’s Former Customers Are Returning After Rebranding Fiasco

GigaOm – Netflix launches sexy new web-based video player