Platform: Nook Color (similar versions available for Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad)
Cost: Free to download, but requires a Netflix subscription (one month free trial and then $7.99 a month).
Barnes and Noble is shipping out the latest addition to the Nook family, a tablet that rivals the Kindle Fire and iPad. The new Nook Tablet looks enticing, but Nook Color owners not quite ready to empty their wallets for the latest device will be happy to know that Nook Color has also become more tablet-like. Over 300 apps were released this month and a massive update introduced highly desired functionality, including vivid graphic novels and streaming movies. This App of the Week post will evaluate one of the most significant upgrades, Nook Color’s Netflix app.
Available as a free download, the Netflix app delivers crisp, quick-loading videos. Upon logging in with my Netflix username and password, I was greeted with a row of videos that I had started earlier in the week on my television (see picture at left). With a tap, I continued watching The Office: Season 2 right where I left off. I was happy that I did not have to manually fast-forward or try to remember which episode I last viewed. In addition to resuming videos-in-progress, viewers can swiftly find bookmarked flicks in their Instant Queue. Subscribers can select shows on their television at home and easily access them again by browsing their queue on the Nook.
Other video options were colorfully and intelligently organized in categories like Action Thrillers, First-Love Movies, and New Releases. Netflix also suggested movies based on others that I had recently watched and reviewed, but if Netflix’s lists do not catch your interest, the top of the screen has browse and search functions. Brief previews include a small summary, cast information, year of release, and star ranking (see picture at right).
Before testing the app, make sure to download the latest software update (1.4.1). BN.com reviewers report that the app stalls and times out on earlier software versions. I did not experience any of the menu lag described by some reviewers, but I did have one complaint. Playback is limited to WiFi hotspots. Wouldn’t it be great to have a queue full of videos to enjoy on long road trips? I suspect that this limitation does not affect users accessing Netflix from cellphones.
The Netflix app will be useful for many teens. The app makes entertainment more portable, a feature that matches up well with teen’s busy lives and their affinity for multi-tasking. Many young adults will enjoy the fact that they can start a movie at home on their Playstation 3 and resume watching it across town (or in the next room) from their Nook with a simple touch of the screen.
For more YALSA App of the Week posts, visit the App of the Week Archive.