Out of the many things a smartphone can do, serving as a multimedia tool is one of the better capabilities in its repertoire. They now come with enough built-in storage to hold all of your favorite tunes and podcasts, and if you can't store everything on your phone, the cloud is always there to back you up. Only more recently have services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and other various movie streaming and renting options become available via mobile. All of these services harness the true power of the smartphone and allow us to use our pocket-computers as they were intended to be used.
I'm a huge Netflix fan (well, we've been on better terms, but that's another story for another time). I remember getting excited when finally switching to an iPhone, simply because of the Netflix support. At the time, Netflix was only available for a select few Android handsets, and I had even gone through some hacks on my different Android phones to get it to work. I also remember testing it out on the HTC Surround when I reviewed it. It is always one of the first applications I install on my new phones.
Admittedly, I have never – outside of testing it to see if it actually works – used Netflix from my phone. I have never been in the situation where I thought, "Oh, I have two hours to kill. Let me pull out my phone and watch a movie." Granted, I almost always have a tablet with me in my backpack, but I only use my tablet for streaming on rare occasions. It's great knowing the capability is there if I ever want or need it, but there are a multitude of reasons why streaming movies and TV shows via smartphone just isn't worth it to me.
For one, streaming media is a battery suck. I love having essentially every song ever at my disposal with Spotify, and I am almost always streaming music. But I can literally watch my battery drain while streaming only music. When you're streaming – or downloading – a movie or TV show, it's twice as bad. You are pulling nearly twice the bandwidth (depending on the quality of the music and video) and the display is running at full capacity, thus your battery drains much more quickly. I already have trouble making it through an entire day on a single charge. If I stream at all, I can pretty much kiss any hopes of that goodbye.
Also, I would much rather sit and stare at a wall and contemplate life for two hours than to watch one of the few movies on Netflix I have not already watched on a 4.3-inch (or smaller) display. Not to mention, I have serious attention problems from time to time. I'm a people watcher; if I'm in public, I have the tendency to look up every time someone walks by. Five minutes in, the movie will totally lose my attention and I'll just be wasting battery at that point.
On top of battery drainage, attention issues and tiny displays, I am almost always tweeting, texting or constantly using my phone for some other form of communication. I would never be able to make it through a two-hour movie on my phone without having someone call or text me, making me stop the movie. The one thing I hate more than anything while watching a movie is constant interruption.
Like I mentioned, there is the rare occasion that I will use my tablet for Netflix; when I'm out of town and staying at a relative's or friend's place, for instance. But if I for some unlikely and unknown reason left my tablet behind, I would not use my phone to stream instead. I would find something else to do first.
So I'm curious, people. Is it just me and my ADD? Or is watching a movie from your phone just a terrible experience? Have you ever streamed Netflix or Hulu from your phone? Do you do it regularly? What about renting via mobile?