Best cheap tablet for Netflix

So apparently the tablet needs to support something called Widevine in order to play Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in Full HD. At first I thought it’s not such a big issue to watch movies in 720p, but there’s a big but:

  • The SD resolution is not even a 720p, but it’s 480p, and it shows.
  • The low resolution is not the only problem here: the SD resolution has decreased bitrate which means lots of visual artefacts such as “squares” on fast motion scenes. Once you see it, you’ll hate it.

At first I bought the Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus 10,3” tablet which has all the desired properties:

  • 3GB of RAM or more, in order for bloated Android to work fast
  • 64GB worth of internal memory
  • No Samsung bloatware crap
  • Google Play store
  • Cheap-ish (300 EUR max)

There are not that many tablets fitting these requirements: Samsung tablets are ruled out because of crapware; Huawei tablets are ruled out because either of missing Google Play store, or no Android updates.

However, I quickly discovered that both Netflix and Prime Video only works in SD resolution on Lenovo Tab M10; Netflix app quickly tells us that Widevine is L1 version 15.0.0 which is apparently not enough. Apparently, Netflix works Full-HD only if:

  • Widevine is L1
  • The version is at least 15.0.0 or higher
  • Necessary secure codecs are supported: VP9 and AVC-High

(at least on my phone there’s Widevine L1 16.0.0 and both Netflix and Prime Video plays content in Full HD).

The only other tablet fitting the properties above is the Lenovo Tab P11. According to this reddit thread Netflix supports Full HD, BUT according to this thread Netflix doesn’t support Full HD. BUT according to the page, the tablet is certified for Netflix HD; also according to Antti in the page review, “Kuva on terävä ja Netflix näkyy myös Full HD-laatuna” which means that the tablet supports Netflix Full-HD. Now what?!?

I’ll try it out myself, then I’ll let you guys know.

EDIT: just got the P11 (the model says TB-J606F) and it does support FullHD playback resolution on Netflix but not on Prime Video. Netflix says:

  • Widevine L1 15.0.0
  • Supported HW Codecs: VP9, AVC-High

However, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t seem to play the video in FullHD and says that the Best streaming quality consumes 0,46GB/hr which is definitely not FullHD (on my phone the Best quality is described as consuming 1,82GB/hr and that’s definitely a FullHD quality).

Written on March 15, 2021