I've been thinking about cutting the cable-TV cord for the last couple years, and just a couple months ago, I finally took the plunge. I had to get creative to watch some of the NHL and NBA playoff games I wanted to see, but overall, it's been everything I hoped it would be. Not coincidentally, I have also recently become a Netflix customer. And with the new Netflix Android app, I'm never more than a few seconds away from my favorite video content.
There are a lot of great online sources for television and movie content. You can get some from Hulu. You can get some from Xfinity. And as of last week, you can even get some from YouTube's new beefed up rental service. But none of these sources has the available library that Netflix has--that was obvious to me as soon as I logged in for the first time.
And Netflix is versatile. You can stream videos to your computer, or to an Internet-connected TV. And now---finally---you can watch Netflix content on your Android tablet or mobile phone through the just-released Android app.
I've been using a Droid Incredible for slightly more than a year now. I love it, but I have to admit I was surprised to see it listed as one of the few Android devices to get this Netflix app--it's not exactly the hottest, most top-of-the-line smart phone anymore. But, by virtue of owning one of the lucky few devices to get the app, I'm in a position to give you a hands-on review.
- User Interface. It's pretty darn easy to find the content you want, and find it quickly. The buttons feel like they're in the right place; it's very intuitive.
- Video Quality. For a streaming video broadcast on a smart phone screen over a wireless network... it looks a heck of a lot better than I expected. There are some occasional frame-rate issues, or moments where the picture is slightly less crisp. But all in all, I was impressed.
- Content. It's all there. Everything I can access from my laptop I can access from my smart phone. Content is still Netflix's best selling point over competitors, and the reason I signed up in the first place.
- Install Time. The install took forever. But that's not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Sometimes excellent and robust apps are large files that need a little while to install. It is 22MB, after all (for comparison, the Android Market app is 3.2MB).
- Load Issues. I had to uninstall and then reinstall because something went wrong with my initial attempt so that the app wouldn't load when selected. After reinstalling, though, it worked just fine.
- Limitations. This is not compatible with all Android devices. In fact, there are only a handful of devices that it is compatible with right now. Here's the list: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, or the Samsung Nexus S. If you own a different Android device, you'll have to wait a bit longer (though some have reported the app working fine on Android phones that aren't officially supported).
See The Netflix Android App In Action
Andrew from the AndroidCentral YouTube channel, recorded a fantastic video walkthrough of the Netflix app in action on his phone. I could record my own, of course, but in addition to taking a lot of time... it's also wholly unnecessary, because Andrew's is quite good and will give you a look at everything I've talked about above: the interface, the video quality, etc. Take a look:
Netflix Continuing To Grow
In addition to the new Android app, Netflix has also just announced a deal with Miramax, which will add about 300 films to the streaming service. Netflix is going to lap some of their competitors soon at this rate. They have the largest selection, and beat would-be competitors like YouTube to the market--and they have more signed partnership deals with studios.
And now, you can take your Netflix experience on the go: on the subway, in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or even out at the bar with friends. Mobile viewing isn't going to accurately recreate the experience of home viewing, simply due to screen size, but it can come in handy for people on the go like myself. If you're a member, and you have a supported device, I would highly recommend you give the app a try.