Netflix: Movies on the Go

Netflix has taken the world by storm. It used to be known as the company that sent DVDs out in the mail, but now they’re moving their business model into streaming video as well. To that end, they’ve put out apps for both the iPad and iPhone, both of which are very popular. But each variation isn’t created equal, so which version is the right one for you? If you’re a Netflix subscriber, this is news you need to know.

The Requirements

Netflix changed my life. I’ve never been a huge movie watcher, but it’s amazing all the movies or TV shows that you’ll find in the Netflix library that you might want to watch. The basic streaming-only plan runs $7.99, and for an extra two bucks you can get a DVD sent out to you one at a time as well. If you want to use either the iPad or iPhone version of the app, you need to have at least the basic streaming plan, or it’s of no use to you.

Netflix on the iPhone works great over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Netflix on the iPhone works great over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Your Netflix account lets you browse for movies, and then you can select them for watching immediately, being sent to you in the mail (if you opt for one of those plans), or adding to your queue to watch later. The iPad and iPhone versions of the app let you do all of this and more.

The iPhone Experience

One of the great things about the iPhone is being able to watch movies on the go. Netflix works over both Wi-Fi and 3G, so there’s no need to hunt down a random network just to watch your favorite movie. How’s the quality? Well it’s better over Wi-Fi, that’s for sure, but no matter which way you go you’re not going to get HD quality. It’s definitely a good picture though, and considering it’s being streamed to you wherever you’re at, that’s pretty cool.

Watching over 3G works well on the iPhone, but the quality goes down just a tick.

Watching over 3G works well on the iPhone, but the quality goes down just a tick.

The other bonus is that you can start watching a movie at home on your PC, Mac or AppleTV, then pause it and pick right back up where you left off on the iPhone or iPad. In fact, that’s what I did to get the screenshot above; I started streaming on my iPad, then picked it up again on the iPhone. That’s pretty convenient.

Overall, I’ve found that I use Netflix on the iPhone for two things: Adding movies to my queue, and watching a movie in an airport if I don’t happen to have my iPad handy. It’s nice to have when you need something to do, but it’s not a substitute for having a bigger screen.

The iPad Experience

Everything on the iPad is bigger, and Netflix is just the same. Instead of using a tiny interface that appears to be designed specifically for mobile phones, you get the full web experience. It looks just like what you’d get by signing onto Netflix.com, but the streaming movies now come to the front instead. I’ve been told that it’s all just HTML5 coding, but I don’t know the behind-the-scenes workings first hand, I’m just a reviewer with a keyboard.

Pause a movie on your iPhone, pick it up where you left off on your iPad.

Pause a movie on your iPhone, pick it up where you left off on your iPad.

The iPad is perfect for Netflix. One thing I like doing is firing up the app and putting the iPad in a stand so I can watch a movie while I work. Then it doesn’t hog up my computer’s resources, and I see everything on a big screen. And since everything is as full size as the web version, it’s easy enough to add items to your queue or find a new movie that you want.

The Cons

When you’re streaming anything, your network connection is always going to be an issue. Once you’ve picked out a movie, it can take a few minutes to load it up before anything shows on the screen. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing you or Netflix can do about this, because of current technological limitations. But once the movie has started, the app doesn’t try to load up the entire movie at once. Instead, it acts like a 1990s portable CD player, where there’s a buffer to help avoid skipping. I haven’t found many issues with streaming problems, and if any happened, it’s been on my end, not from Netflix. So if you’re good with the wait, then you’ll be alright.

It may take time for some movies to load, depending on your connection speed.

It may take time for some movies to load, depending on your connection speed.

Final Thoughts

I’m a Netflix fan, and I’ve only had it for a few months. In that time I’ve received a good amount of DVDs at my house, and watched several hours of streamed TV and movies on my iPad and iPhone. I’ve been told for years now that I needed to get on the Netflix bandwagon, and now I’m wondering what took me so long. It’s great.

But for me, it’s only great because of the iPad and iPhone components. If I could only watch streaming movies on my computer, then I don’t know if I could justify the price. But now I can watch it whenever I want, because I always have my iPhone on me, and I usually have easy access to my iPad. That makes the minimum $7.99/month price plan pretty valuable to me, and I’m willing to bet it will be for you too. This app gets 9 out of 10 for both the iPad and iPhone versions, with the only deduction being for the delay for downloads.


Summary

Watch your Netflix movies on the go, on both your iPad and iPhone.

9