I've been using the new Netflix iOS application on my iPhone for a couple weeks now. Initially released on Thursday, August 28, 2010. This is a wonderful addition to my already growing application library on my iPhone. This app allows you to access the Netflix Instant Streaming library of Movies, TV Shows, and Documentaries .
Cost of the App:
The Netflix iOS application is available for iPhone and iPod touch in the App Store for free. Who doesn't like free? I also have a Slingbox. To access it, via my iPhone, I needed to purchase the SlingPlayer Mobile app ($29.99 USD) plus the cost of the Slingbox device. When looking at how much a somewhat similar application costs to access a device you had already purchased, free is a great move by Netflix. This allows more people who do not have a Netflix account consider joining.
To access the content, you will need to have a Netflix account. The most basic Netflix account allows you access to 1 DVD out at-a-time and unlimited instant access for $8.99 USD per Month. Don't bother with the Limited account, you won't have access to the instant streaming library.
I've been a Netflix member for a while now and I have to say the online library gets better with each week. There have been recent agreements with studios that allow their content to be streamed online increasing the quality of the content avoidable to users.
I've had the pleasure of using the app for a couple weeks now. I've tried it out on both by home wireless network and the AT&T 3G network. I have to say, it works well. The online content streams at a resolution of 480 x 360. On my iPhone 3Gs this looks great. I can notice some jagged edges, but the normal everyday user won't see those imperfections. On a mobile device, watching online content in HD resolution is a waste. It would cause a lot more bandwidth to stream the content and the mobile device size wouldn't do it justice. The only other reason to upscale the resolution would be to connect your iPhone to a TV.
The interface is rather easy to use. The layout is simple which is good. When you start the application, you are brought to the Home menu which displays Netflix's categorized recommendation to you. If you don't want to view those recommendations there is a option to browse via Genre. If you are looking for something specific, there is a Search option available. You also have access to your pre-existing Instant Queue. All of these feature work as they well as they should. The only improvement I would recommend to Netflix is to add the functionality of using the horizontal on screen keyboard instead of slaving me to making spelling errors with the vertical one.
I've been using the Pushing Daisies: Season 1 content as my test for this application. Using my home WiFi connection, the content load quickly and streams well. I also turn off my WiFi connection on my iPhone and do see a slight degradation in quality of the picture, but not enough to lessen my enjoyment. It's so insignificant that a normal person wouldn't see it. So big kudos to Netflix for the online content on the iPhone. The only issue that have is with switching from WiFi to 3G on the same episode. When I stopped the playback and changed to the 3G network, the app seams to have an issue with picking up where it left off. Sometimes it's able to correct itself, but often I'm having to start the show over again.
One last warning. If you already have a Netflix account and have several Netflix approved streaming devices (PS3, XBOX, Roku, Approved TV... etc.) you want to make sure you haven't reached your limit. Netflix allows for 6 devices to stream online content. Using your preferred browser counts as a streaming device. I was surprised to find out that when I added my iPhone I maxed out and was not able to watch the online content from my browser unless I removed one of the devices from my profile.
I would recommend this app to anyone who has an iPhone and unlimited data plan. If you don't have unlimited data, you don't want to be wasting your data minutes on watching movies at work, on the bus, or on the train. Go out there and get it! Watch some good movies on your iPhone and recommend some to me.
Official Netflix Blog: http://blog.netflix.com/2010/08/netflix-now-available-on-your-iphone.html
Sling Media: http://slingmedia.com/