First 4G Android Tablet With Netflix Launches on Outdated OS

It’s a big day of firsts for Sprint. The carrier launched its first Android tablet on Friday compatible with the new 4G “Wi-Max” network. The device is also the first Android tablet out there capable of running Netflix.

HTC's Evo View is the first tablet to run on Sprint's 4G network, and the first to run the Netflix app. Photo: HTC.

Unfortunately, despite being first in line for 4G and Netflix, Sprint’s HTC Evo View tablet ships with the older version of Android: 2.3 (Gingerbread), not version 3.0 (Honeycomb). A future software update will bring Honeycomb, the version of Android made specifically for tablets, to the device.

That speaks to a larger problem of “fragmentation” on Android devices: the inability to implement the platform consistently across multiple types of hardware made by different manufacturers. Fragmentation is also the key reason why Android tablets have been slow getting popular video-streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu onto its devices. It presents a problem for making sure that Digital Rights Management technologies — or applications that make sure you aren’t ripping and recording any of the streaming content you’re watching — function across all devices.

“It’s not one type of gas that goes into every vehicle,” said Netflix head of communications Steve Swasey, in an interview. “DRM isn’t consistent across all Android devices, and unlike the iPad and iOS devices, there’s not one universal solution to it.”

Nonetheless, the HTC Evo View 4G’s compatibility with Wi-Max will be significant for those who want to watch streaming media on their tablet devices, as the speed boost you’ll get moving from a 3G device to 4G is considerable.

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