Hands-on with Netflix for Android (video)

Netflix for Android is here... finally. It's been a long time coming and we're thrilled to be able to bring our instant queue with us wherever we go. Though technically only approved for a handful of HTC phones and the Samsung Nexus S, we were able to successfully get it up and running on at least one unsanctioned device -- the Droid X (sporting a leaked copy of Gingerbread). So what's Netflix like on Google's mobile OS? Well, it's a heck of a lot like the iPhone app. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart if it weren't for the tabs being moved from the bottom of the screen to the top. Still, we figured it was worth giving a solid once over and, as usual, you can find our impressions after the break.

Everything is more or less as you'd expect upon launching the app. The home screen shows your top picks (including those disturbingly specific genres like "visually-striking mind-bending comedies") and just below the tabs is a shortcut to resume the last video you watched. Along the top you'll also find tabs for genres, search, and your instant queue. Tapping on a title opens a more detailed view that shows a summary and similar videos, as well as offers you the chance to add it to your queue, rate it, or just start playing right away.

Streaming performance over WiFi is excellent -- videos load quickly and are crisp and clear. Over 3G quality is still respectable, but there is some noticeable pixelation and buffering can take quite a while. We are slightly frustrated that navigating away from Netflix to answer a text or simply locking the screen forces the videos to buffer again. Though the UI is responsive enough, the app itself is quite slow to launch and searches sometimes take quite a long time to complete, especially over 3G.

Pressing the search button quickly opens the search tab and the back button works exactly as it should but, oddly, the menu button does absolutely nothing, deviating from the expected Android experience. Another pair of complaints we have are the lack of landscape support while browsing through the app and the somewhat confounding absence of a scroll bar for indicating your position in a list. We also wish there were some more robust options for managing your queue. As it stands you can add things, remove them, or (if they aren't already in your queue) move them to the top, but rearranging is out of the question.

If you happen to own one of the few handsets that supports Netflix (the HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, or the Samsung Nexus S) you can snatch it up in the Android Market now for free. If not, you'll just have make do with the video above.

Myriam Joire contributed to this report.