Okay, so if you were someone who bought a tablet without really seeing you using a tablet all that much chances are you bought it for watching movies and TV on it, right? I know that when I bought my first tablet back in the day, the Archos A101, it's main use was movies and videos in general. Of course, since Android has grown up a lot when it comes to tablets they've gotten more sophisticated and it's easier to be productive or at least getting halfway there. When it comes down to it, though, being able to watch whatever we want and where is pretty nice, for sure.
Of course, your iPad touting friends and family will tell that iTunes is fantastic and yeah, it's fantastic but, realistically outside of iTunes and a few select services deemed acceptable by Apple, where else are you getting your videos from? This being Android though, we've got more alternatives than you can shake a stick at. Below, in true Tablet Tuesdays fashion, I'm going to talk you through some that I've found the best and most useful in my experience.
It was unavoidable mentioning this, wasn't it? There's a reason that so many of us use Netflix – myself, heavily – you have one account and it's anywhere you choose to sign in. Since it hit the UK at the beginning of the year my girlfriend and I have been using it ever since, on the Xbox and every tablet I use as well as her laptop.The Netflix app isn't exactly the flashiest app you'll ever see but, it's updated often and the content delivery is crisp and clear. Depending on your connection you get some high-quality video piped right to your device. The thing about Netflix is that it – mostly – covers all the bases, you've got to know what's on offer by now and being able to have it on your tablet(s) is certainly attractive. If you've got children it's more than likely helped you out on more than one occasion, I know my girlfriend's little sister loves it. The major downside to all this is, that, you need to have a relatively speedy connection – cellular or otherwise – in order to have a good experience here.
Not everybody likes the same stuff and, whist services like Netflix have a lot of everyone loves, it might not have a lot of what others like. Since I was young I've always like Anime, with shows like Dragonball Z and Gundam Wing making their way to TV in the UK as I was going through school I was hooked. I since went on to gain a qualification in Japanese and continue to enjoying entertainment from the east. Since I discovered CrunchyRoll it's made a big difference in getting my hands on it. It's got a Tablet app that's well designed and straight to the point, there's hardly any hunting when it comes to finding something you want to watch. If you enjoy watching anime then this is definitely one for you and well worth a look into. There's a free trial with no obligations as well which is nice.
I'm not going to go into a huge amount of detail surrounding Hulu, simply because I don't have access to it as such it'd be unfair for me to rabble on about its features if I can't experience them. Of course, those of you out there that experience Hulu will know all about it and will more than likely enjoy it on your tablet already. It's worth noting that some of the content you want to watch is that that's been right under your nose all along.
BBC iPlayer et al
Here in the UK over the last few years the TV stations have been embracing the internet a little more, some more than others of course. The iPlayer from BBC still remains king in my book with a great app, which unfortunately relies on Flash, and an absolutely massive amount of content from both Radio and TV in high-quality streams.
Strangely though, it's only iTV that seems ready to join the Beeb on the Android app front and have released the iTV Player app. For Channel 4 and Channel 5 tough, you'll have to vist their websites. That's fine if you've got flash – which we all do I suppose – but the experience is hardly anything to write home about. It's disappointing to see that they've not released any apps for our platform. Channel 5 have said that they'll be bringing Demand Five to Android this summer.
VLC and MX Player
So, you've bought a massive 32GB SD card for your tablet, something I did as soon as I could and I've still not taken full advantage of it. This is a great method for watching videos on your tablet as there's no worrying about whether or not you have a decent connection, there's no interruptions here. I'm not going to go into how you get whatever you're going to be watching so, please don't ask. Besides, you already know, right?
MX Player is fantastic as it plays a whole host of formats smoothly with no complaints, has support for subtitles and is generally awesome, I swear by this on both my tablets, for good reason, it lets me watch what I want when I want it. No fuss. Installing the app is a tiny bit more involved than normal apps as you need to install the right codec pack for your type of ARM processor. Whilst this may sound a little janky, it's well worth it if you gain hardware accelerated video.
VLC Media Player is something that's been close to my heart ever since I moved over to Linux when I was 14 or so. The ability to watch whatever without having to install codecs was magic and, to be fair it still is. Nine times out of ten if it doesn't play anywhere else, VLC will play it. VLC is now available for Android. I stress that it is available as it's not an official, let alone a final release. Some clever folks over at XDA have compiled recent source code into lovely installable apks for your android device. For the most part it works well but, you have to remember it's a beta. It works better on my Iconia Tab than it does my Touchpad running CM9, for instance. You can find VLC player in this thread on XDA.
There you have it, that's all for this week, come back next week as always for some tablet-centric musings!