Movies-on-demand for the iPad

Netflix offers it's streaming video catalog on the iPad.

Editors' Take: Netflix came out of the gate quick by offering a free app for the iPad at the device launch. We were able to download the app from iTunes and give it a test drive, and the initial results are very promising

Launching the app takes you to what looks almost exactly like the Netflix Web site. You sign in with your username and password just as you would when using Netflix on a PC, no device authorization required. You can sign out of the site just as easily if you are sharing or borrowing an iPad.

All the standard Netflix Web site features are there, from the movie recommendations to the disc-based and instant-viewing queues. Because the Netflix Web site is designed for a mouse and keyboard, we had some trouble hitting a few of the tiny buttons, especially the small play buttons on the instant-queue page.

However, once we did hit play, the iPad jumped to a video playback screen. Loading the video over Wi-Fi took a few seconds, and we saw an "authorizing" message displayed each time. Once playback started, even SD video looked good, and there was no stuttering or slowdown. In fact, the iPad display's 4:3 aspect ratio is almost better suited for nonletterboxed SD content. Watching HD videos, the apps video quality looked even nicer; however, a portion of the screen was eaten up by letterbox bars (perhaps an argument for a 16:9 aspect ratio on iPad 2.0).

You can easily jog through the video by grabbing a tiny timeline bar at the top and dragging it. We were very impressed with how quickly the video rebuffered and started playing again--a much quicker process than doing the same thing on a laptop or game console.

The content and most of the navigation in the app is exactly the same as the PC and Mac Web-based Netflix streaming service you're used to. Keep in mind that like all streaming media apps, you'll need to be connected to the Internet to use it.

Hopefully, Netflix will be able to take some time, post-launch, to optimize this app for the iPad display and touch screen. But in the meantime, it's definitely one of the best reasons we can think of to sign on to Apple's new device.

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