"Watch your favorite shows anytime, anywhere on your mobile device." These very words are taken directly from the PrimeTime2Go website. We first heard about PrimeTime2Go last month when Kevin went to CTIA. He did a quick video review, and the very idea of having my favorite TV shows on my device intrigued me, however the service hadn't launched yet.
While attending WES last week, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that PrimeTime2Go has been launched on BlackBerry App World, and was now available for download on BlackBerry Bold and Curve 8900 devices. Luckily for me, I have one of each of those devices, and I was ready and willing to test out the app.
Getting Started and First Impressions
I launched App World on my 8900 and quickly found PrimeTime2Go and started my free download. Now this is where some people get confused. The PrimeTime2Go app is free, but in order to be able to download and view content, you must subscribe to the service, which is $7.99/month. Payment is accepted only from PayPal as an automatic monthly deduction. Your account is tied to your device PIN, which you submit when you subscribe. After you have completed your payment agreement, you can launch the app again and now begin browsing and setting content for download.
Initial content is limited, but new shows are being constantly added. Here is the current lineup available at the time of this review:
NBC: 30 Rock, Heroes, The Office
ABC: Grey's Anatomy, LOST, Desperate Housewives
CBS: CSI, CSI NY, Harper's Island, NCIS, The Young and the Restless
Comedy Central: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report
Nickelodeon: SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer
The CW: 90210, America's Next Top Model
MTV: The Hills, Nitro Circus
ESPN: Coming Soon
Discovery Channel: Treasure Quest, Big Explosions, Survivorman, MythBusters, Out of the Wild
TLC: Jon & Kate Plus 8, Table for 12, Little People Big World, Toddlers & Tiaras
Bravo: Top Chef
Animal Planet: Extreme & Deadly, Groomer Has It
Now that's not a huge selection, but in just the few days I have been using the app, the amount of content has probably doubled. I spoke with Mark Hyland, VP of Marketing for QuickPlay Media, and he told me that new content is being added as quickly as possible. I asked about the obvious lack of the Fox Network, and was told that they have not yet reached an agreement with Fox, but Hyland informed me that they are still working hard on getting an agreement in place, but had no timeframe for when it might happen.
Checking out the availabled shows
Even with the lack of Fox right now, there are still plenty of shows that I like on the list. I began setting up my content for download. I went to LOST and scheduled it to record all new shows from the series. For most shows, there will be 2 weeks worth of content listed as available for download. Once a show is downloaded, it will generally stay available for about 2 weeks on your device, at which time it will self delete.
Like I had previously mentioned, the only two devices compatible with PrimeTime2Go at this time are the Bold and Curve 8900. I asked Hyland the reason behind this and was told that the programming is very data intensive and needs to be download via WiFi, and that the app currenlty needs to work with the newer devices with faster processor speeds to be able to handle the DRM decoding on the fly. I also asked Hyland how much space the content takes up, and he informed me that 6 hours of video will consume about 1GB of space on the MicroSD card.
Now I'm sure some of you are screaming this isn't fair for those of you that don't own a Bold or Curve 8900. From the way it sounds, older devices, even those with WiFi, don't have the processor power to run the app smoothly. Newer devices like the Storm, have the power, but lack the WiFi. Hyland informed me that they are looking into a tethering option, but did not have anymore information on when/if that will become available.
The app is also limited to those users in the United States only right now. Plans are in the works for Canada and the UK, but content agreements have not yet been reached with the network providers in those countries.
Now on to the good stuff....
I went through and browsed all available programming and selected the shows I wanted to download. Just as advertised, the downloading will begin as long as you have a WiFi connection on your device. All your favorite shows are downloaded and cached on your media card to be viewed at your pleasure. The best part of all.... You don't need a data connection on your device to view the shows. Therefore, this is a great feature for the frequent fliers out there.
All shows must be viewed through the PrimeTime2Go app because of the DRM coding. I used the app for several days and had no problems at all. I would wake up in the morning, and discover that I had new content waiting for me that had downloaded during the night. The only flaw I found with this is that the app itself has a notification mark to let you know about new content, as well as your LED indicator would flash red. No matter how many times I went into the app to view the new content, the LED would never turn off. I eventually went into my Profile settings and disabled the LED for PrimeTime2Go. I'm sure this is a bug that will be resolved in future versions of the app.
Check mark... ready to watch
Speaking of support and feedback for PrimeTime2Go, it is available to the user in several different formats which I find very useful. First and foremost, you can go to their website and contact Customer Care via email or by phone. However, embracing today's social media world, you can also gain support via Twitter or Facebook.
I did need Customer Care at one point, I wanted to switch from my Curve 8900 to my Bold, and see how easy of a process it was to accomplish. Currently there is not a way to login to their website and switch it yourself, but I did mention this to Hyland, and he said he would pass it on to the development team. Now back to Customer Care, I called in and informed them that I need to switch the PIN listed on my account for my BlackBerry. The rep had no idea what I was talking about. D'oh! I informed him of how their very own FAQ section on their website directs users to call in and have their PIN be changed. He took down my information including my old PIN, the new PIN, email, phone number, and said he would have to pass this on to a service technician to look at. I could expect a call back within 24 hours. Hmm... not real impressed with Customer Care at this point. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that the service has been live for a week, and maybe they haven't had many calls to change PINs yet.
Overall, PrimeTime2Go is a very impressive app with an increasingly impressive library of content being added as often possible. If you are a frequent traveler, and maybe someone who doesn't want to subscribe to cable, this may be the app for you. Quality content available at a reasonable price.
I did my best to cover the major points of the app, but I'm sure some of you still have questions. Feel free to post them in the comments, or contact me on Twitter at @kasperapd.
* Update - I received a call back from QuickPlay this morning, and my PIN has been switched and my Bold is now active. They informed me that there is a process in place now to make device changes more streamlined. Hopefully they will get a web interface designed in the future so I could login to my own account and do this myself. I'd like to give kudos to QuickPlay though for listening to my problem, and working to rectify it to avoid future issues. Thanks! *