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PBS for iPad: Stable, easy, really good content

30 October 2010 2,408 views 2 Comments



One of the best apps for the Apple tablet from day one has been NPR for iPad as it’s fairly complete offering of what the radio broadcaster delivers over the air. Thereupon, one of the most anticipated apps since has been the television counterpoint from the Public Broadcasting System. Was it worth the wait?

PBS for iPad (iTunes, free) has arrived and been greeted by a warm reception from users and reviewers alike. In the four days since I started using it, this app has been rock solid and is intuitively easy to use — I haven’t wandered into any cul-de-sacs.

App start up takes three to five seconds and content panes generally snap full. Other news/video apps, such as Pulse, Flipboard and Reuters News Pro, can be sluggish when populating content during start up — a tricky usability versus cost issue for companies paying to be out here on the bleeding edge of mobile broadcasting.

Nevertheless, with any television app, free or paid, value comes down to how much content the broadcaster delivers and how much gets withheld. In the case of PBS for iPad, we don’t get everything, but there is quite a bit to watch with handful to a score or more full-length episodes plus shorts and previews of the programs on offer.

• Primetime shows: Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, History History, Masterpiece, Nature Need to Know, Nova, Secrets of the Dead and much more

• PBS NewsHour, Austin City Limits, Circus, Nova ScienceNOW, Independent Lens segments

• Check PBS, local PBS program schedules
— Program, episode information

• Bookmark favorite program and episodes
— Share videos with friends on Facebook, Twitter and email

• Purchase episodes and seasons (Mobile Safari)

I really like navigation in PBS for iPad, especially the pop up All Program menu. That combined with the app’s simple and effective main window makes getting around very easy.

Get local

A minor disappointment in PBS for iPad is that you can’t get directly from a program’s local schedule listing to the description or the related short/preview (if any). The local listing feature needs to integrated with the rest of the app.

Although I don’t recall having issues, PBS has increased network capacity for improved performance and availability since the app’s launch and scrubbing through to find a specific spot or moment was and is quite responsive.

All-in-all, I’m very pleased with the quality and functionality of PBS for iPad, as well as program availability.

What’s your take?

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