Netflix on Android disappoints

  • 11 September 2017
  • charm

I tried Netflix for the first time on our Zoomtak T8H quad core Android box and I must say the experience was pretty disappointing. I want to make it very clear this is just my opinion, your experience might be a lot different. To me Netflix is nothing but a glorified web streaming mess of HTML 5 code reliant on Google Chrome. The user interface on Android is simply terrible. Using the T8H's remote I tried moving around to select look at the movie selection, sometimes the selection would move a bit, sometimes it wouldn't move at all, it was the kind of experience you'd get trying to do something on a malware-infested PC with 2GB of RAM. When the selection tool finally "woke up" it wouldn't go past the bottom of the screen. It was obvious more content lay below, but the tool simply disappeared and the screen didn't scroll. I decided to activate the cursor on the remote. Using the cursor I was able to click the search in the top right of the Netflix interface, but just as I got the cursor up to the search area the search icon vanished -- until I clicked on the area.

My first search "Game of Thrones" turned up everything but Game of Thrones. My second search ended similarly. Finally I picked something featured, though it wasn't quite clear even that was selected. About 5 minutes in to the video I needed to pause, the play/pause button on the T8H remote didn't work for pausing. I needed to once again activate the mouse cursor on the Android remote and painstakingly navigate to the bottom left in order to pause the movie. When I came back from the activity Netflix had gone back to the screen where I first saw the movie listed (it didn't stay on the pause screen). I did eventually manage to get the movie to play where I left off, but not before navigating through several other screens.

Between the disappearing selection tool, the stuck screens, and the lack of an easy way to play/pause video the experience was terrible. The movie played fine for the most part, but just after un-pausing the video quality seemed to drop slightly. I didn't notice a drop in quality throughout the rest of the video, which played fine on our 25Mb/s down connection.

Streaming services seem all the rage these days, but surely Netflix could have come up with something better than this particular user interface? KODI is far better in this respect and add-on developers for the most part have created sensible user interfaces on top of KODI. To be clear, I'm not talking about the NetflixKODI add-on, but the Netflix application for Android as it's implemented on the Zoomtak T8H. What it really looks like to me is that Netflix only thought about touch screen and mouse users and never gave much thought to the fact that people would want to use a remote control. That was my first thought, but it can't be true since many "Smart TV" users have a positive experience of Netflix, so it just seems to be this particular implementation of Netflix on Android that sucks so much. Normally I don't like to slag a product, but I had high expectations for Netflix to be at least as smooth as KODI when scrolling through movies. That wasn't the case, and the fact that even pausing was painful puts Netflix at the bottom of my list of services to invest in next.

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