Big media companies are still trying to figure out the best way to get live TV on your iPad or tablet.Some, like Time Warner and Comcast, have apps that let you stream a handful of channels to your mobile device. But you must be a subscriber and use your Internet connection from those companies to take advantage.
Aereo, a new service that’s rolling out in New York City next month, has a different idea for getting live TV on your iPad, iPhone, and soon a bunch of other mobile devices and connected TV boxes.
Aereo works within your browser and beams live network TV to your iPad or iPhone. Even better, the service offers a DVR feature that stores all your recordings in the cloud. That means you don’t have to waste your iPad’s precious storage on a bunch of shows you need to catch up with.
Sound cool? Click here to see how Aereo works >
All you have to do is tell Aereo which shows you want to record and it does the rest. You can come back later to watch them and even skip through commercials, just like you can with your TV’s DVR.
But there are a few major caveats:
- Aereo will cost you $12 per month.
- You’re only allowed to register five different devices.
- And most importantly, it only works with network TV that’s already available for free over the air. That includes channels like ABC, FOX, CBS, and PBS. You won’t get access to cable channels and many live sporting events.
I tested Aereo, and it worked perfectly, even though I was warned the service is still in beta. The interface is simple and easy for anyone to pick up. The video quality was just as good as what you’d get streaming a video on Netflix or Hulu. If your Internet connection is fast enough, you can watch shows in high quality without waiting for them to buffer.
It really is impressive.
If Aereo sounds interesting to you, you’ll have to ask yourself: Is spending $12 per worth it just to watch and record shows on your iPad that are normally free? The social features with Facebook and Twitter are nice bonuses, but with such a limited launch, you probably won’t have too many friends using Aereo.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, we like EyeTV as an alternative.
Aereo will be available in New York on March 14. You can sign up here for a 30 day free trial. The company doesn’t have any plans to expand to other cities right now.
Aereo works within your iPad's browser. There's no need to download a separate app. Let's log in and give it a whirl.
Aereo only lets you authorise five separate devices at a time. When you log in for the first time on a device, you'll have to authorise it on this screen.
Welcome! Here's Aereo's interface. The column on the right shows what's playing on each network right now. You can see featured shows on the left.
Modern Family is on tonight. We'll be too busy to watch it live, so let's have Aereo record it for us.
Like any DVR service, you can tell Aereo to record a single episode or the entire series. We'll just record this one episode and come back to it the next day after it's recorded.
Now for live TV. The streaming quality is pretty good, assuming you have a decent Internet connection. If you don't, you can lower the picture quality so the video doesn't freeze.
Unfortunately, the Facebook feature is useless if none of your friends are using Aereo too. If they were, you'd be able to see what they were watching in the right column.
A day later we come back to watch our recorded shows. There they are! Let's watch last night's Modern Family.
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