Who needs a Snapdragon when you have PlayOn Mobile for Android? Announced on Thursday, the new app from MediaMall Technologies now does what many Android owners have wanted for some time: Netflix on their smartphones and tablets.
In addition to the popular movie/TV streaming service, PlayOn Mobile now brings to the Android 2.2 platform a huge list of content providers including Hulu Plus, (ABC, NBC, Fox, etc.), Amazon VOD, Netflix IQ, TBS, CBS, PBS, the Oprah Winfrey Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Nickelodeon, ESPN3, NFL Rewind, MLB, MTV, VH1, Syfy, Spike, TV.com, The Ultimate Fighter and others.
PlayOn also streams personal media stored locally on a networked PC, and offers support for plugins that adds even more channels like the Discovery Channel, the Food Network, Southpark Studios, international channels, podcasts and numerous other channels.
But there's a catch: the video feeds aren't streamed directly to the phone. Instead, PlayOn requires a PC client connected directly to the Internet which in turn redirects the streaming content to the mobile device. Initially the Android smartphone or tablet will need to be set in Wi-Fi mode and paired with the Windows client (aka media server), but after the first connection users can access the content from anywhere via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G connection.
There's also another catch: the service isn't cheap. While the Windows client and the Android app are free to download and install, the service itself comes in two flavors: PlayOn Premium which charges $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 for each year thereafter, or a one-time charge of $79.99 for a lifetime subscription. Throw on separate subscription fees for Netflix, Hulu Plus and other services, and the ability to stream video to the Android device might seem a bit costly. Still, there's a 14-day free trial (no credit card needed) to see if the service is worth the money.
If Android isn't your preferred flavor, PlayOn is currently available on other platforms including the Xbox 360, the PlayStation3, the Nintendo Wii, Google TV, Roku, iOS and other DLNA-compliant devices. “We’re pleased to add Android to our ever-growing list of compatible devices for streaming online video content,” states Jeff Lawrence, CEO of MediaMall Technologies. “Our goal is to make it easy for everyone to affordably access online video content using the screen of their choice."
In a brief test, streaming content from the PC to the Motorola DROID smartphone on Verizon's 3G connection actually worked rather well after tweaking the client's settings, Windows Firewall and the local network router. Users must manually activate Mobile Access in the PlayOn PC client, and either let the software automatically configure the connection, or manually set the TCP port.
The end result was a little choppy and of lesser quality, but provided better streaming content than Verizon's own V CAST Video $10 monthly subscription service.