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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Android Market launches streaming movie service with offline viewing feature

One of the things I've missed the most when using my Motorola Xoom Android tablet is the lack of a Netflix app. On the iPad and iPhone, Netflix is a must-have app and service. Now, Android users will have their own Movie app and a service that in some ways will be better than Netflix.

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On Tuesday Google announced a new movie rental service in the Android Market. You can rent streaming movies to watch on your computer, phone or tablet with one click. All you need is a credit card and you're off and running. Thousands of titles are available and many of them are very current. That's where this service has an advantage over Netflix, since the Netflix streaming library contains movies that are pretty old.

 

Android Market movies have a rental period of 30 days and once you start watching you have only 24 hours to complete the movie. Rentals range from $1.99 to $4.99. A new feature called “pinning" lets you download a movie in the background by clicking the pin icon on the movie so you can watch the movie when you’re offline.

The movies are live now with support fort all Android 2.2 or higher devices coming in a few weeks, according to Google. Tablets receiving the Honeycomb 3.1 update will get the new Movie app as part of the update. The Motorola Xoom tablet on Verizon's network is slated to get that update first. My Motorola Xoom hasn't received the update, so I brought up the Android Market in the web browser and easily rented "The King's Speech" after entering credit card information. So you don't have to wait for the Honeycomb update if you want to start watching movies on your Xoom now.

 

One thing I'd like to see with this Android Market movie service is a flat, monthly rate for unlimited movie rentals, like Netflix. If you watch a lot of movies in your household, a flat-fee service is an incredible value, even though the movies are older, and you still have the option to pay for more recent versions if you desire. Hopefully as Google builds up their library they will explore a similar pricing structure.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 3:36pm]

    

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