One of the main reasons that you got your iPad is for the display. You wanted all the great quality and app integration of the iPhone, but a bigger screen to go along with it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was probably because you wanted a better video viewing experience.
Whether you’re going mobile, staying in Wi-Fi range, or connecting to an even bigger screen via AirPlay, you’ll need a good TV app. I’ve picked out five of the best, including both streaming TV video and apps that provide ways to enhance your TV viewing experience. All of these apps have received high rankings on iTunes, and are listed in no particular order.
Comcast subscribers have access to shows and movies galore from the spectrum of the Comcast channel lineup, so you’ll be able to take your cable service with you wherever you go. Any premium channels that you subscribe to are also unlocked for the app, including programming from HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and more. Plus, you get a great channel guide, remote control, and DVR scheduler as well.
Many apps let you watch TV on your own, but Miso makes it social. Simply select a show (DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse subscribers can even do it automatically), and you get to join in on the ongoing discussion about it. You’ll get embedded trivia, cast and crew info, and links to songs that are playing (perfect if you’ve ever heard something you like during a show, but have no idea of the name of the song, or who performs it). And you’ll also be able to make MST3000-style snarky comments with your friends about what you’re watching.
It’s not Xfinity, but MobileTV Unlimited delivers plenty of free channels and programming from some of the biggest TV networks and other Internet video sites — for example, fans of “The Onion” will especially rejoice. It’s got some limitations; sometimes you get teased with clips rather than full shows, but it’s the best Internet TV app available for the iPad. Highly recommended if you are the adventurous type who wants to explore some of the more esoteric online channels.
The Internet’s top database of film information is also a TV viewer’s virtual encyclopedia. All of us have become wiser (and won arguments) by virtue of IMDB’s extensive cross-referenced listings of plots, trivia, quotes, actors, directors, and all the other cast and crew information you could ever need. If you still need convincing, the iPad app version of this crucial website is one of the few five-star TV apps in the iTunes market.
DISH Remote Access
The only app that could conceivably make Comcast customers jealous, Remote Access gives you EVERY channel on your DISH Network lineup, live or recorded. Wherever you may be, you get everything that your home DISH Network provides, and whether you’re away from home or not, you benefit from the programming guide and remote control functions (including DVR control). Yes, you’ll need a Slingbox-compatible receiver and set-top box, but there are many devices that qualify.
Keep in mind that you can also get high-quality TV from premium services that largely focus on movies. Netflix and Hulu are the two foremost examples, both of which have excellent apps for subscribers. If you don’t have access to premium channels via something like Comcast’s Xfinity or DISH Remote Access, signing up for Hulu and/or Netflix will provide many of that pay TV programming (often in full HD).
Also, some very good apps were left off the list simply because they only provided a single channel or network. Depending on your preferences, you may want to sample the apps for CNN, ESPN, HBO, NBC, BBC, and more. In fact, you may find that the individual networks not only suit your needs, but deliver higher quality video and extras simply because they have more ability to focus on less content. There are many different online streaming services to look into. To help you make your mind up, why not have a quick look at Now TV vs LOVEFiLM to help you make your mind up.
Either way you go, there is no shortage of high-quality TV apps for the iPad. Take the utmost advantage of your tablet’s fast Wi-Fi and 9.7″ screen (especially if you’re one of the lucky ones that have the new higher-ppi Retina display). Even if you’re not taking it on the road or on your commute, you’ll appreciate the portability and convenience of having TV channels available on a high-definition “second screen” alternative to your main household television.
Do you have a TV app that you love? Make sure to let us know in the comments.