Texas Instruments today announced that they’re the first to support 1080p, 30 frames per second Netflix streams for Android 2.3. Of course Netflix is already available on Android, but it only supports 720p resolution in its current state, and for those that want to watch these shows on their TV or other big screens, this is pretty great news.
If you’re unfamiliar with Netflix, it’s a subscription-based service that lets you stream TV shows and movies on-demand to your mobile device, TV, or computer. It started off as a mail-out service where you would have DVDs shipped to you about as often as you like, but obviously the overhead on that much shipping is huge, hence the shift to digital. At $8/month and up, it’s hard to argue with the Netflix service, although diehard fans of particular shows may balk at a few conspicuous holes. The biggest one for me is the lack of HBO stuff, but licensing is a long, complicated dance, and I don’t begrudge Netflix for their selection.
A big part of TI’s certification process with Netflix involved security; obviously they want to keep digital rights management locked down on their significant stable of content to avoid piracy. TI’s certification means that shows are protected at multiple levels, such as over Wi-Fi, on the device against rooted workarounds or malware, and over the HDMI-out port.
Honeycomb would obviously be a great fit for Netflix at 1080p, and TI is working to certify it within the next 2-3 months, with availability likely sometime in September. Other TI OMAP processors, lke the 4460 and 4470 will also be certified soon. My big question is, will this work with the BlackBerry PlayBook? It’s packing the OMAP 4430, and it will eventually be able to run Android 2.3 apps, so it stands to reason that RIM could certify their lone tablet for this killer app. Of course, it would be better if they could convince Netflix to do up a dedicated QNX version, but that’s probably a hard sell for now.
This is good news all around, and the only step left before we start seeing HD Netflix streams on mobile is certification at the manufacturer level. Since TI has done a lot of the heavy lifting already, those manufacturers using the OMAP 4430 already will be able to get the gears moving relatively quickly.