Entertainment

We all need to have some fun. These apps are all for entertainment, although are not games. If you are looking for games, head over here.

HarmonyLink

Logitech Harmony Link App Turns Your iDevice into A WiFi Remote

I've seen all kinds of Apps that will turn your iDevice into a remote of some kind. I've reviewed a few in the past. In this case Logitech aims to turn your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch into a Universal WiFi remote. The problem is that the iPhone doesn't have an IR port and most likely your TV, Receiver, Bluray player, etc. weren't designed to be controlled via WiFi. To get around this hardware limitation Logitech sells a small piece of hardware called the Harmony Link (see my review here). The Harmony Link is the bridge between your WiFi network and your IR controlled devices. Once you have the hardware setup then you can head over to the App Store to download their Free Harmony Link App.

Harmony Link for iOS has some great features

First off this is a Universal App taking advantage of iPad and iPhone/iPod touch screen sizes. As you might expect the experience on the iPad is visually more compelling simply because there's more screen real estate. However, having a Universal WiFi Remote in your pocket is pretty cool too. One problem this App solves is one that I've had with every other Universal remote that I've tried and that is the ability to rearrange the buttons to your taste. You can even eliminate ones you never use. For example, if your TV has a Picture in Picture feature, but you never use it and don't even have it setup, then why have that button on screen taking up space? Since this solution works via WiFi there is no reason to point your iDevice at your TV setup. This also means that you can turn stuff on before entering the room or turn stuff off that someone (we won't mention their name) left on. 

The Harmony Link App on the iPad provides additional benefits like a visual guide. It's pretty cool to "see" what's on TV at any given moment and then with the tap of an onscreen button your watching that show. Also since the iPad screen is larger you get almost all the buttons for all the devices of an Activity on screen at once. For example, I can control my TiVo and TV at once. While this works great, I do wish that there was some DVR integration here. I'd like to tap a "Record/Schedule" button without having to go to my TiVo App. However, unlike the experience on the iPhone and iPod touch you can't easily change the button layouts.

 

The Bottom Line

While this isn't an App Only solution, it is probably the best one out there for control a variety of different IR based audio and video gear. I'd like to see some additional customization features and the ability to sync the current status of the Harmony Link between mobile devices. Otherwise, the Harmony Link works as advertised and let's you put away all those remotes you've got lying around.

You can get the Harmony Link device here.

You can get the Harmony Link App for Free from the iTunes

redbox

Redbox Movie Rental for iPhone

Not too long ago I became fed up with the price change with a certain other movie service that shared the same color as today's featured App so I switched services (for my physical dvds) and started using Redbox. Immediately I went looking for a Redbox App because I didn't want to be one of the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people that stand there staring at the box as they try to decide what they want to rent. I wanted to be able to browse, locate, and reserve my movies directly from my iPhone on the go. With Redbox for the iPhone I can do that.


Function

This App obviously is designed to aid users of their service so it isn't going to do much beyond that, but as long as it preforms all of the tasks to make renting movies from Redbox easier and more enjoyable, it has done its job. The first thing that I wanted to be able to do with this App is browse and search the different movies contained withing the boxes. As you can see from the image, the movies are broken down into popular categories to help you easily navigate to what you're looking for.  Also included is a search option. Have a title in mind already? Go to the search bar and type the name in to instantly show that movie.

The second thing that I wanted to be able to do was read the plot, know the run time, and find out who was in the movie. I don't always want to know these things, but there are a lot of times that I do, Redbox has you covered. Do all of these things with ease as soon as you find the title you're looking for. 

Third (and most importantly) I wanted to be able to find out which locations had the title that I was looking for. I don't want to drive to my favorite (and closest) location just to find out that the movie I want isn't in stock there. With Redbox for the iPhone you can not only see what locations have it, but you can also reserve it! That's awesome! No need to worry that someone else is going to get there and rent the latest Carebear before you can make it to the box (If you have little kids like me, you know this isn't a good situation). Redbox has you covered.

Bottom Line

This may seem like a one trick pony, but what it does, it does well. I really enjoy the Redbox service and this App makes that service that much better. My only gripe is that there isn't a native iPad App, but for something like this, the scaled up iPhone version works just fine.

 

You can get Redbox for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

iTunes_Movie_Trailers

iTunes Movie Trailers

The Movie Trailers feature of Apple TV has been a long time favorite of mine. When friends come over we sometimes kill a little time just watching trailers and discussing upcoming movies. Before Apple TV you could also do this via the Apple QuickTime website. There are lots of ways to watch movie trailers, but one thing Apple has done well with this is the user interface and high quality nature of the trailers themselves with many streaming in HD. I always liked the Movie Poster way of seeing which trailers were available as well as doing searches. Apple has now brought this experience to iOS.

iTunes Movie Trailers on your iDevice

As you would expect Apple has done a good job with this App in that it looks very much like the Apple TV experience. You can scroll through the movie posters or do searches. Once you tap on a trailer you can choose to play it or in many cases see still photos in a gallery. Surprisingly the photos can be saved to your camera roll, tweeted or emailed. Beyond looking at trailers and stills the app goes further by giving you a calendar of movies that are about to hit theaters as well as what's already in theaters. You can save favorites of trailers and theaters. 

This App just about does it all (almost). I'm not quite ready to give up Flixster just yet. There is no movie rating feature in Apple's App. While you can see Rotten Tomato ratings, you can't rate it yourself and share those ratings with friends. Also there is no way to buy movie tickets from within the App. I would very much like this to be the only App I need, but until Apple adds a couple more features I'll still need to keep at least one of my others. Other than that, iTunes Movie Trailers is a great App and there is no reason not to have it!

You can get iTunes Movie Trailers for Free here from the iTunes

NBC

NBC For the iPad

I'm a TV fan. I have quite a few shows that I like to keep up with, so many that I don't have time to sit down and watch them all . Until now, I have relied on my Slingbox and home DVR to keep up with all of my favorite shows. Now, with the recent update to the NBC iPad App I can watch FULL episodes whenever I want!

 

The Basics

From a major corporation like NBC, you expect a quality App. I expect to have a schedule to see all of the upcoming shows and their times. NBC gives you 7 days worth of show times in the schedule in an easy to read and understand format. You would also expect quality show descriptions from an App of this caliber. NBC has you covered with descriptions, episode guides, video clips, and photos of EVERY show.

 

Full Episodes!

With the most recent update to the NBC App, you now can view not only video clips for your favorite shows, but FULL episodes for every show on the App. This is a really nice feature that has been a long time coming. On the main splash page of the App you are presented with the most popular Full Episodes of the last few days. Full episodes for specific shows are accessed by accessing that particular show's page under the "Shows" button at the top of the screen. The shows load quickly and playback is smooth without jumpiness or hesitation. Overall, the Full Episode feature is a quality experience.

 

The Bottom Line

This App is perfect for anyone that loves programming from NBC but doesn't have time to sit and watch all of their favorite shows when they actually air.

 

 

You can get NBC for your iPad for FREE from the iTunes store here: iTunes

eyetv

EyeTV Offers Remote TV Viewing

 

A while back I wrote a review of the EyeTV HD box that allows you to turn your Mac into a DVR (see the review here). The EyeTV HD plugs into your cable/satellite box and then records your shows to your Mac's hard drive. While that's cool for those that don't want to have to subscribe/pay for DVRs, there's another benefit. With the EyeTV App you can stream the live TV feed going into your EyeTV or the recorded shows to your iOS Device anywhere that you have an internet connection. It works over 3G or WiFi.

 

It does AirPlay too

Live broadcast of CNN playing to the Apple TV connected to the HDTV on the wall via the EyeTV App's ability to do AirPlay

I already had a solution for streaming my Comcast Cable feed and TiVo DVR to my iDevices. It's called Slingbox and the SlingPlayer App. Recently I moved into a New photography studio and while I have a couple of HDTV's for showing photos (via Apple TV slideshows/screen savers), I didn't want to pay for cable TV service or use antenas to pull stuff in over the air. What I was in search of was a way to stream TV content that I already pay for at home, from my iPad/iPhone to my Apple TV. Unfortunately to this day the expensive SlingPlayer App doesn't do AirPlay for video. However, the less expensive EyeTV App does! Eureka! I can go to my studio and if want to have TV I can just fire up my iPad or iPhone, launch the EyeTV App and stream the content to my HDTV (via Apple TV 2). 

How well does it work?

Like most streaming technologies, the playback is only going to be as good as your internet connection. When my internet connection is not doing a bunch of uploading/downloading of work, the EyeTV playback is really good. However, I've seen it stutter on occasion when the network was in heavy use by other workstations. With the EyeTV App I can remotely change channels, see my guide and of course see any shows that I've recorded to my Mac's hard drive. I can also schedule new recordings. This is all great, but there doesn't seem to be a way to delete shows from within the App. It's a shame to have to be at home to delete a show that I no longer want to keep.  I really like the ability to "test" the network connection and adjust the bandwidth within the app for optimum playback. Even on a bad internet connection, the playback of the audio is always good. However, the video my stutter from time to time similar to the old Max Headroom show. 

 

The Bottom Line

If you have a Mac and you're looking for a way to enjoy TV content on the go, the EyeTV HD and EyeTV App are the way to go. Slingbox doesn't require a computer, but it costs more and their iOS App isn't as good. 

You can get the EyeTV HD here for $169.89

You can get the EyeTV App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch for $4.99 here from the iTunes

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