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App of the Week - TVCatchup

App of the Week - TVCatchup

This is the first in a weekly series of articles that identifies Android applications that really stand out from the crowd. We anticipate that the vast majority of applications covered in this weekly feature will be downloadable from Google Play. The first article looks at the TVCatchup Android application. However, TVCatchup is not yet available on Google Play as there is only a beta release available, so users may have missed this gem. The application is in beta release as it has not yet been fully tested for bugs.

TVCatchup in action

TVCatchup is a popular internet service that lets viewers watch live UK Freeview television. The service re-broadcasts over 40 different tv channels including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and some Sky channels.

Please note that a UK TV licence is required to use TVCatchup. Contrary to its name, the service offers live television channels, and hence the requirement for the TV licence. If you live outside the UK, individuals are not recommended to try using a UK proxy to use TVCatchup. This is because the developers, TVCatchup Limited, monitor proxy usage, and will block access.

When starting the application, a splash screen is displayed (depicted in the first screenshot), followed by an advertisement. The TVCatchup service is funded by these advertisements. After clicking the cross to remove the advert, users are presented with a scrollable channel list showing what programme is currently showing on each channel, and the next programme to follow. The second screenshot shows the channel list on the left, and a live TV channel on the right side.

TVCatchup in action

The Android app is exceptionally easy to use. The simplicity of the app makes it very appealing, with very few options to investigate. Keep it simple is this application's forte.

We can display the tv programme full screen either by tapping the full screen icon, or by a double tap on the live feed. A single tap gives you the option to pause the live feed, particularly handy if you get temporarily interrupted when watching a programme.

If you have installed the Twitter client, there is also the option to send a tweet to your twitter followers, letting them know what programme you are currently watching.

TVCatchup in action

Picture quality is pretty good. Yes, there are no HD streams to watch, but on Android devices with 10 inch screens (or smaller), artifacts are not too visible especially on the mainstream channels. Audio synchronisation is excellent. Watching TV using TVCatchup on the Samsung Galaxy Tab was genuinely enjoyable.

There are a few features that we would like to see that are already available in the Adobe Flash Player web application. For example, the Android app does not allow users to change the aspect ratio. Without this option, some channel programmes are displayed in the wrong aspect ratio. Also there is no option to change the video quality. This could be important to users that have limited internet bandwidth.

As outlined above, the Android version of TVCatchup is currently in beta release, so we were expecting the application to have some problems. However, whilst there were a few occasions when the tv stream stopped, overall the application is pretty robust.

Features:

  • Over 40 channels are available.
  • Entertainment channels: BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV 1, Channel 4, Channel 5, BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, E4, More 4, Dave, 5 USA, 5*, PickTV, Quest, Yesterday, Really
  • Film channels: Film 4, movies4men
  • Music channels: 4seven, 4Music, Viva, Channel AKA, BritAsia
  • Children channels: CBBC, CBeebies, CITV
  • News channels: BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, Al Jazeera
  • Shopping channels: Bid TV, Price Shop, QVC, Speed Auction
  • Other channels: Clubbing TV, Vintage TV, Ideal World, Create and Craft, Ideal & More, Ideal Extra
  • Timeshifted channels: ITV1 +1, Channel 4 +1, Channel 5 +1, ITV2 +1, ITV3 +1, ITV4 +1, E4 +1, More 4 +1, Film4 +1, 5 USA +1,  
  • Olympics channels
  • Optimised for both phone and tablets
  • Transition animations on channel list
  • Full screen mode
  • Facility to send tweets to alert your followers what you are watching
Web site:
Price:
Developer:
Links:
Reviews:
tvcatchup.com/android.html
Free (Ad-supported) for app - TV license required
TVCatchup Limited
Wikipedia, Forums, TVCatchup Support, Twitter, Facebook
YouTube
Verdict:

TVCatchup is an excellent free service. The Android application is a must download for any UK resident. Whilst there is the occasional lock-up, hopefully the few bugs in the application will be ironed out. The advertisements are not intrusive.

9/10

Check out our collection of Android Group Tests, identifying the finest free Android software.

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Last Updated Saturday, July 28 2012 @ 02:24 PM EDT


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