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FINALLY! Netflix for Android!

Netflix began with a new concept in 1997:  DVD rentals by mail.  You create your queue with up to 500 movies that you’d like to see, and they send the first 1 to 4 (depending on your membership level) to you.  As soon as you return one, they ship your next one.  With distribution centers all across the US, turnaround time is typically a day, in rare cases two.  I live in the boondocks in Arkansas and typically have a new movie the day after I return one.  Since then they have added (and dropped) HD-DVD, as well as adding Blu-ray and instant viewing over your computer or internet-capable device.  They are also considering 3-d DVD’s and video games.  Their memberships range from $4.99 per month for one DVD at a time with a limit of 2 DVD’s per month to $34.98 for four DVD’s or Blu-Rays at a time with no limit, as well as unlimited instant streaming. 

I am a fan.  I have been a happy Netflix member since 2000, and, even with the recent brouhaha about their rates, still feel like it’s a heck of a deal.

Since I realized how great movies look on my Samsung Captivate phone, I have been checking the market periodically for an official Netflix app, and finally got one the other day.

This is, perhaps, the best app that I have on my Android phone. The first time that you open the app, it prompts you for your Netflix membership information.  Once you provide that, your Netflix streaming account is available on your phone.

From here, you have four tabs available.  The “home” tab allows you to see the most recent movie that you were streaming, along with suggestions of other movies and TV shows that you might like.  The “genres” tab allows you to select streaming movies by genre.  The “queue” tab puts your streaming queue at your fingertips.  The “search” tab allows you to search by title.

I streamed my first movie, “Kill Theory” (a good film for anyone who likes thrillers) the day that I downloaded the app, and let me tell you… it streamed beautifully.  The one thing that I did notice is that, for the first minute or so that the film streams, while it’s buffering, the picture can be a little furry.  But once it gets good and buffered, it streams flawlessly with an excellent, hd-quality picture.

I have only run this app through my wi-fi connection, so I don’t know what kind of data usage you’d be looking at to stream it over a network, but I can imagine that it would be pretty massive.  Streaming video alone takes a lot of bandwidth, streaming high-quality video exponentially more.  So I would suggest limiting your Netflix watching to someplace where you can access a wi-fi connection unless your cell phone provider has an unlimited data plan.

Hope that you enjoy!

~Randal Schaffer