Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Turn your iPad into a TV with Time Warner’s TWCable TV app

4 out of 5


Time Warner Cable customers can turn their iPad into an additional TV viewing device, watching a small selection of live content at home over Wi-Fi.

The app only functions over a strong, stable wireless Internet connection provided by Road Runner at home. (Sorry road warriors!) Limited selection of channels in initial release. No volume control on-screen, and lacks DVR-style controls (fast forward, rewind, pause, etc.) Registering to get the app up and running can be hit or miss; keep trying until you get a username and password! No parental controls.

TWCable TV is the perfect companion app to Netflix and Hulu, giving cable subscribers nearly rock-solid access to a set of live TV streams that can be viewed anywhere in your home.

Xfinity TV
Hulu Plus
CNN App for iPad

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

It’s been a long time coming, but Time Warner Cable came through yesterday with a killer app that finally lets me watch live TV channels on my iPad. While not perfect, it’s an excellent start, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see significant improvements in the coming weeks.

So what does the free TWCable TV app get right? It’s free, comes pre-loaded with a fairly healthy channel lineup, and if you’ve got a solid (read: wireless N) Wi-Fi network in your home being served through the Road Runner service from TW, you’ll be up and running in a few minutes time.

After grabbing the program from the App Store, you’ll need to register at Time Warner’s website in order to verify that you subscribe to their TV service at the appropriate level (Expanded Basic or better), get Road Runner Internet connectivity, and finally, link your iPad to your offical TV account number. (Some users are reporting issues with generating login credentials; keep trying and you’ll get through. Took me a pair of tries.)

Once all of that is set, the app will display a black screen with a very spare menu system. Tap the left side of the screen to force the channel list to appear. Scroll up and down to see what’s playing right now. The initial list of available channels include: A&E, Bravo!, CNBC, CNN, Discovery, E!, Food Network, Fox News Channel, HGTV, CNN Headline News, History Channel, MSNBC, Syfy, TLC, and USA Network.
Just tap your choice to change the channel. A small pause will give the app time to cache a few seconds of video, and then you’ll be off and running. The image is clear, crisp, and fills the top two-thirds of you screen. (Why the channel list wasn’t programmed to appear in the black space at the bottom of the app I’ll never know.)

As you surf between channels, you’ll be able to click the only available control – Channel History – to switch between recent streams.

In terms of what the app is lacking, there’s currently no support for on-the-road (read: outside of your home) access to your channels. (Sorry road warriors!)

While a great start, the channel lineup is currently very limited compared to a standard digital cable TV lineup. There’s also no volume control on-screen, and the app completely lacks any DVR-style controls (fast forward, rewind, pause, etc.) For concerned parents, there are also no parental controls to speak of.

Still, all Time Warner subscribers with TV and Internet service will want to install this app sooner rather than later. Adding another TV viewing device to your family’s home collection is more than enough justification to bring yet another must-have capability to your Apple tablet.

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