According to a statement issued to Mashable this week, Netflix is working on bringing 1080p streaming video to the third-generation iPad. The current version of the app only plays standard definition video (1350 kbps, 640×480) since the resolution of the previous iPad hardware was 1024 by 768. The application was updated on March 21 to support the new Retina display for high resolution menus and box art in addition to better playback on external screens. Netflix has already upgraded the Apple TV application to play 1080p video on the new hardware, thus it’s just a matter of time before Netflix upgrades the application to take advantage of the third-generation iPad’s 2048 by 1536 resolution.
According to Netflix director of corporate communications Joris Evers, she stated “The video (on the third-generation iPad) is not in HD yet. That is on our roadmap, but I can’t share timing at this point.” As of right now, the only third-party application that’s streaming 1080p video on the new iPad is ABC’s application. Users can watch recent ABC shows like Once Upon a Time, Castle, GCB, Dancing with the Stars and Modern Family in full HD resolution.
When the first iPad launched during April 2010, ABC’s application was ready at launch with plenty of streaming video and quickly became a highly recommended app for new iPad users. As of the publication of this article, third party services like Hulu and HBO still haven’t upgraded their applications to display 1080p video or higher resolution artwork on the new iPad. Other applications that also need the upgrade the video resolution include PBS’s app and Cinemax Go.
Earlier this week, Apple upgraded the iTunes movie trailers application to take advantage of the high-resolution display of the new iPad. Within version 1.1 of the application, users can check out HD trailers, photos and clips of upcoming movie releases in addition to purchasing tickets at a local theater chain. Beyond adding 1080p support for the trailers, all navigation elements and movie posters have been upgraded for the higher resolution as well. The app works over both Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connection, however users should be wary of data use when streaming 1080p video over a 4G connection.
Both Verizon Wirless and AT&T provide online calculators in regards to estimating the amount of data that a user would consume when checking email, browse the Web or stream multimedia content like music or high definition movies.
Verizon’s calculator estimates that five hours of high definition video per month will eat up 10GB of data, a figure that coincides with Verizon’s most expensive data plan at $80 per month for 10GB of data. Oddly enough, AT&T’s calculator estimates that the same five hours of high definition streaming video will only eat up 1.5GB of data per month. Neither service indicates if the high definition video is calculated at 1080p or 720p resolution. In addition, AT&T’s calculator doesn’t differentiate between 3G and 4G.
Both services change an additional $10 per GB of data that goes beyond the user’s data plan. For instance, if a user watches the first season of Lost over the ABC application when connected through 4G LTE, they would watch approximately 18 hours of video. At Verizon’s estimate of 2GB per hour, that would cost the user $260 for the extra data plus the $80 a month for the 10GB plan when the Verizon bill came due.