Netflix, the hugely popular US movie and TV streaming service took longer than the QE2 to cross the Atlantic, but when it did, it brought a catalogue of movies to stream on smartphones and tablets for a subscription charge, as well as a collection of homegrown shows including Top Gear, The Inbetweeners and, er, The Only Way Is Essex.
The Netflix Android app lets users get unlimited streaming for a monthly subscription charge – which means streaming movies as often as you like, queuing up for future viewing and even accessing from multiple devices.
Navigation is pretty straightforward – you can browse by genre or by a search box if you have a more specific request. (One comment we’d make is that the Netflix catalogue has to expand significantly if this service is to succeed – we found that many favourites and current films were sadly missing).
There’s also the option to resume half-watched titles from stop position (this works cross-device) or tap up your queue of titles. You can also, inevitably, share your viewing habits with the world via a Facebook hook-up and rate your titles for smarter recommendations.
To get the best out of Netflix on your smartphone or tablet, however, you’re going to have to find yourself a stable Wifi connection. The picture quality will degrade to ensure seamless playback, so if you’re in a 3G area with intermittent strengths, you might think you’re watching CCTV footage from Crimewatch.
When you are in a bandwidth sweetspot, however, you’ll find that the playback is silky-smooth and that the (albeit limited) HD content is well-rendered.
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The bottom line
Although choice could be wider and picture quality is variable depending on your connection, this points to a brave new world of movie consumption – services like this could eventually spell the end for DVDs.