MLB At Bat 2010 for BlackBerry Review

CrackBerry Idol - Tim
By Kevin Michaluk on 12 Jul 2010 11:50 pm EDT
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Review of MLB at Bat 2010 for BlackBerry Smartphones

Ah, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the warm sun on my face, the sounds of the stadium: a man yells out, "Programs, get your programs" as another passes by selling peanuts and ice-cold beer. The ballpark is filling up quickly as a sell-out crowd is expected for this match between the National League-champion Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals' starting pitcher has just finished warming up, the umpire yells "play ball" and the games is about to begin. It sounds like there is an air of excitement throughout Busch Stadium in St. Louis and as I drive around in my car in Northern Indiana, running service calls for my day job, I can feel it too. In fact, it feels like I'm right there at the game thanks to the Gameday Audio feature in MLB At Bat 2010 for BlackBerry.

MLB At Bat 2010 for BlackBerry

So it may be a long title for an app but it is worth remembering as it is one of the best sports applications and easily the best for baseball on BlackBerry. Gameday Audio lets me stream either team's radio broadcast (and in some cases, the Spanish broadcast) from any Major League Baseball game, live. There are lots of other cool features as well. For example, I can see a live scoreboard of all the games as they happen, including the pitch count, number of outs and what bases have runners on them. I can even customize the scoreboard to list my favorite teams in any order I want, enabling their scores to show up at the top. If I see a game that piques my interest, I simply click it and I'm immediately taken to the "Gameday" screen where an instant, play-by-play version of the game takes place in front of me. I can see a thumbnail of the pitcher and one of the batter, as well as game stats and a pitch-by-pitch visual reenactment of everything, as it happens. From this screen, I can click any of the icons in the row at the bottom and see the game's box score; a layout of the field, with each defensive players name in his respective position, along with any runners on base; a summary of the game's outs and scoring plays; and video highlights of the most exciting plays so far. At the end of each game, all of these stats are finalized and game recap videos are available to view at any time. In fact, by hitting the options (or "BlackBerry") button and selecting "Go to Date..." I can view videos and stats from any previous game in the 2010 season. Along with team news, complete standings and videos from around the league, this app is packed with features!

MLB At Bat 2010 for BlackBerry

 

MLB At Bat 2010 for BlackBerry

 

MLB At Bat 2010 for BlackBerry

Pros 

  • Video highlights of every game
  • Complete and live stats
  • Gameday Audio-live audio stream of home or visiting team's radio broadcast (English and Spanish, where available)
  • Live, visual play-by-play
  • Complete team standings, news and game recaps

Cons (and My Suggestions)

  • Playing a video opens the BlackBerry Internet Browser and on completion, the user is taken to the Internet Browser's Home screen (though this is only slightly annoying and not a big deal, as pressing the "Back" button returns to the app).
  • Gameday Audio tends to drain the battery significantly.

I have some suggestions for ways the application could be improved in future versions or with updates; some of which incorporate RIM's new "Super App" initiative:

  • Watch live games: the iPhone version had the ability to watch a few live games each week added last season and this would add tremendous value to the BlackBerry version
  • Calendar integration: a feature to add specific games, rivalries or entire teams' schedules to the native BlackBerry Calendar would give this some of that Super App functionality that RIM is shooting for (and which fans would love!)
  • Twitter/Facebook integration: another Super App feature, I would love the convenience of bragging about Albert Pujols' latest home run without having to switch apps
  • Weather: it would be nice to see a weather icon with a projected game-time forecast in the Gameday Preview screen
  • Individual Player Cards/Stats: something for baseball card fans and Fantasy Baseball players alike, the option to click a player's name in the box score and see his "baseball card" with current season and career stats

My Ranking

In order to take it up a notch for the CrackBerry Idol competition and show my creativity as well as my ability to write a review, I've devised a new ranking system that I would like to use for my future app reviews. It's a five-star ranking system, but instead of arbitrarily assigning a number of stars based on my personal opinion or preference, each star will represent a value for a specific category. Each category can either receive one star, a half star, or no star. For this first review, I will list and describe each category, along with the value I'm giving for MLB At Bat 2010.

  • Features (the amount of features that are useful and reasonably desired for the genre of app): I'm giving At Bat one full star for this as it has lots of great features and the Gameday Audio as well as video highlights and archives really set it apart.
  • User Interface/Ease of Use (Clean or Cluttered? Can I pick it up and use it right away or do I need to read a manual first?): Again, I give it a full star for the clean layout, easy bottom-row button interface, and overall ease of use and appeal.
  • Efficiency (Does it drain the battery? Is it a memory hog?): MLB At Bat seems to run slower than most other apps on my device, with the exception of Facebook. Also, the Gameday Audio seems to drain my batter quickly. This doesn't affect me too much as I'm usually listening in my car, plugged in to my car charger; but it is definitely something to be aware of. I give this half of a star because at 683kb, it doesn't take up much of my device's limited memory.
  • Super App? (Is this an app that could fit RIM's classification of a "Super App"? Unfortunately, this application gets no star for this category. By implementing just one or two of my noted suggestions, however, this could easily become a Super App.
  • Would I Buy It? (This could just as easily be titled, Should You Buy It? Is it worth the money spent? If it's free, is it worth your time trying it out?): First of all, this app costs $14.99. I did purchase it as soon as the baseball season started just to be able to listen to Cardinals games wherever I'm at. If your favorite team is out of town or you travel a lot, this app is definitely worth the fifteen bucks. But if you just want quick stats and highlights, both are available for free from m.mlb.com (and there's even a free BlackBerry launcher in App World. MLB At Bat gets another half star in this category as the necessity (or lack thereof) of live audio is pretty much a deal-breaker for me.

So, in conclusion, My Ranking: 3 Stars

  • Features: 1 star
  • UI/Ease of Use: 1
  • Efficiency: 1/2
  • Super App: 0
  • Would I Buy: 1/2 

** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **

16 comments

Kevin Michaluk

Kevin (aka Ryan Seacrest): You had a solid audition video with a lot of enthusiasm so I was looking forward a lot to your app review. I think enthusiasm is one of the key things to being a Crack Team member, so it was great to see you bring that to this review. Let's see what the judges have to say.

CrackBerry Idol Judges

Dieter: It's a bummer about the focus on the video, because other than that it was really good. Your review is definitely on the short side, though, which isn't necessarily bad but in this case I felt like you didn't give a full picture of the app in the written review. Ya got potential, though, dawg, and a good shot at the next round.

Georgia: Great start to the video, cool having the crackerjack boxes out! The focus being off on the video was disruptive but thank you for letting us know about it before hand. The addition of music was also a nice touch. The review was short and sweet, you covered all the necessary bases but could have gotten a bit more in depth. I hope to see you continue with us for the next round, so figure out the camera focus!

Craig: Your video started off so well and I could fee your excitement. Sadly, the video was too blurry to see anything. I know you explained but there was no way to see your BB screen. The only thing I could see for sure was the app was really laggy. Your written review was great. Started off showing your excitement and continued to review all aspects of the app. You pointed out the good things and the bad. Great overall review.

timb82

Thanks so much for all the positive feedback as well as the constructive criticism! I appreciate the chance to be a part of this and you guys for taking the time to help us all.

Best of luck to all the contestants!

Xopher

Okay, focus aside, the beginning was good, along with the ending. What struck me about the video was the lack of preparation. Rather than having a plan on what to show about the app, you seemed to just guess your way through the features. It didn't help that the app was lagging considerably, but when it came to to show off the menu system, it seemed more like an afterthought (oh, yeah, there's a menu...). It would have been nice to see some of the game-play features in use (the radio was nice to see). Seeing a pitch or two show up on the graphic display would have been a nice touch. Since this was being shown on a Storm, it would also have been nice to know if the screen rotates between portrait and landscape modes.

I think the write-up was good, although one thing that was missing from the write-up and video was how much of a lag there was to the live updates. One of the issues with Score Mobile is that it can take a minute or longer for updates to display (sometimes several minutes). It would be nice to know if this app suffers from the same lag, or if the live updates are much faster.

Dave Peckens

Yup, what he (Xopher) said is pretty much how I feel about this contest review.

Nice job overall. Your beginning paragraph really captured my attention.

timb82

Thanks a lot for the constructive criticism! I have to admit, the first time I read this, I was disappointed that the first comment after the judges wasn't positive BUT I realize that everything you brought up is completely true and your feedback is fair. With that, I'd like to respond to a couple points.

First, you were right on that I should have probably scripted a walk-through and made sure to hit up any specific features I wanted to talk about. With my video review, I realized (after trying all kinds of lighting and settings) that my camera was insufficient for recording the video walk-through (due to lack of focus) and that my phone was slower than I thought (even after deleting some apps and a couple reboots). So from the outset of the device portion of my video review, I knew it wasn't going to be very good and I decided to make it as brief and pithy as possible, leaving the substance of my review (and my CB Idol entry) to the written portion. So that's my excuse for my video and, while it doesn't make the final product any better, hopefully it can add some insight. As mentioned in the video, it will be better in my next review and I've already secured a solid camera for the next round, should the kind and gracious readers vote me in. ;)

And in response to your questions about the app's performance:

-It does not work in landscape mode on the Storm, except for the videos, which are played in the Internet Browser.

-There is very little, if any, lag in the Gameday Live screen, as it is in real-time. The only issue with lag would be that the radio is usually about 10 seconds behind so that if you watch what's going on while listening to the game, you may see that a batter has struck out and the inning is over before you hear the last pitch. The Scoreboard screen is not in real-time, but refreshes at the rate of your choosing: either 15, 30 or 60 seconds.

Again, thanks SO MUCH for the helpful critique; it's good to know what the faithful CrackBerry readers want in a review and it will only help all of us contestants get better!

ewrw4co

At 4:06 3/4 battery life

At 4:38 almost dead!

It is shown above.

joekawasaki

I found that the battery last much longer if you can use WiFi. Unfortunately, that isn't always an option.

timb82

You should probably be some kind of detective or Private Investigator or something; I never would have noticed that! Now while this is a VERY astute observation and the battery is definitely drained faster when listening to live audio with this app, this isn't an entirely accurate representation of the battery drain as those pictures were taken on different days. I did screen captures of the app throughout the week and used the ones I felt were the most useful. Thank you though for reading my review and for your comment! I'll definitely try to pay more attention to details like that in the future.

aindik

I already paid $100 for mlb.tv premium, which gives me access to all the game audio in addition to the video. They seriously want to charge me ANOTHER $15 to put it on my Blackberry? No sale.

This trend of bundling app prices and content prices is starting to annoy me.

Steve54

But for 15 bones? A whole baseball season with how many game choices per day? Just one team is...what...9 cents a game? Vin Scully? I can listen to the Dodgers every game whilst being up to my eyeballs in Giantsville? (Believe me...the Dodgers don't get a lot of play in the SF Bay area) I'll take it!!!

timb82

I'm with you, man! I get Mike Shannon and the Cards wherever I'm at! For me, it was definitely worth the high cost of the app.

And look, even though your Dodgers KILLED my Cardinals last year, we can rejoice TOGETHER in the NL winning the All-Star game last night!!!

snokyguy

Love the app, just hate using it to be a cubs fan right now!

Don00

I did buy it and have not demanded a refund, BUT I'm finding it less and less useful. You are right it's slow - read way behind what is happening.

The first thing I found is that since I'm also on a BES (but not locked out of home WiFi or BIS), the idiotic program insists on using the MDS browser any time WiFi is not available - this of course forces my connection through the company network and proxy which is difficult to authenticate to and SLOW. It works great when at home through WiFi - but of course I have TV, Radio etc. there so it is unneeded.

Following the support procedure, I asked how I might change this obviously mistaken configuration or when a correction might be available for download - I was told it was a carrier problem - NOT.

I was delighed to see a version 1.1.3 update available in App World (I'm on 1.1.1) and since hope springs eternal, I hoped it would fix my MDS browser issue - when I attempt to upgrade via App World (where I purchased it), I get "MLB.com At Bat is not available for download from App World."

Posting this to the App World forum yielded lots of reads but no answering posts.

Color me frustrated!

Don

cedareden

What you faileed to point out is that it doesn't work with all blackberries, notably the Bold 9700. I enjoyed last years MLB on my blackberry. When I tried to install the much-heralded MLB 2010 it wouldn't load from Blackberry App World. When I asked MLB about it, they simply said it wasn't supported and they weren't making an effort to expand support to all devices. BIG contrast from last year when they seemed to jump through hoops to make sure i could use it on my Curve 8320.

No woop. I've just migrated that function to my iPod Touch, but only when I have wifi. It is a real shame to see GLITZ taking over for customer care.