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Size aside, smartphone movie streaming big hit

Monday - 3/4/2013, 11:22am  ET

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Size matters in some cases, and shrinking a film made to fill a 70 foot screen into a five-inch smartphone is apparently what lots of us prefer.

"You can find pretty much everything," says WTOP film critic Jason Fraley, referring to titles available for streaming on smartphones and tablet computers.

With services like Netflix, HBO GO, Xfinity, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu, movie fans can quickly and conveniently watch movies and television shows on demand on their mobile devices.

"There's no downloading. You're not right-clicking a link and downloading it to your desktop like in the days of Napster," says Fraley.

"It's like hitting 'play' on a YouTube video, it might take a second or two to load, you'll see the video pop up," said Fraley.

Real-time streaming, generally on a monthly basis, compared with earlier per-rental models has become so popular almost any movie is immediately available.

"I can rent an old John Ford western on Netflix and stream it on my iPad just as easily as I can get "Slumdog Millionaire" or something that came out in the last couple of years.

Fraley says a film made for the widescreen loses something when viewed on a tiny screen.

"That's definitely the disadvantage, because part of the scope, majesty and epic nature of, say, "Lawrence of Arabia" is the cinema experience," Fraley said.

For that reason, he generally prefers to see a film for the first time in a theater.

"For the repeat viewings, that's where these (mobile devices) are really cool, because you can dive back in and pause and rewind, and see the camera movements and everything," says Fraley.

Follow @AugensteinWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.