No purchases for April, so $156 saved. Now at $3478 for the cumulative savings since January 2013. Only $238 left to pay off the setup.
As you may have heard, HBO Now is up and running. At the moment you can only sign up if you use an Apple device (iPhone, iPad or Apple TV) or if you have internet service via Optimum.
At first I wasn't interested because I didn't think I'd be able to watch it the big screen as my HDTV predates HDMI. I do have an HDMI port free on my HDMI to Component adaptor, but it requires the HDMI signal to be 1080i (as my HDTV doesn't support 1080p), which the Apple TV does not support. However, I discovered that after you've signed up you can watch HBO Now via your browser:
HBO NOW is available through supported Web browsers on desktop and laptop computers, as well as iOS devices and Apple TV. We will provide support for additional devices soon.
To use HBO NOW in your browser, you need a laptop or desktop computer running either Mac OS X version 10.6 or later, or Microsoft Windows Vista or later. In addition, you'll need one of the following support browsers updated to at least the version shown:
- Internet Explorer 10
- Safari 7
- Chrome 37
- Firefox 31
Since there's a 30 day free trial I decided to sign up for it. I downloaded the app on my iPad and subscribed. Part of the process is to create your HBO Now account & password so you can sign in via the browser or other devices.
I then launched Safari on my Mac mini and discovered that Flash is a requirement. I don't have Flash installed, but it's not a problem as I cheat with Chrome for the rare site I encounter that still requires it.
I proceeded to watch an episode of OZ, an episode of Game of Thrones and finally The LEGO Movie. I then headed to bed and watched the 5 Oates and Garfunkel digital shorts on the iPad.
- OZ - picture quality looked good, better than on Amazon Prime. OZ is an older show so I suspect the reason for the improvement was better upscaling2 from 480i. However, the frame rate wasn't consistent and the jerky motion was rather distracting.
- Game of Thrones - didn't notice a frame rate issue, but the picture was very soft - so much so that I took off my glasses a couple times to see if they were dirty. Due to the softness, the opening sequence didn't have the same "pop" that I remembered from watching the show on DirecTV.
- The LEGO Movie - picture quality varied dramatically.
- Oates and Garfunkel - had the best picture quality.
I've watched a number of other shows on my HDTV via Safari, such as Community and Other Space on Yahoo Screen, various shows on SyFy and TV Land. They all had better picture quality than HBO Now via Flash in the browser.
Since that first night I've watched a number of episodes of Game of Thrones. The picture quality on the iPad is consistently good, while on the HDTV via Flash it's consistently bad.
I captured a couple screenshots of Game of Throne's title sequence, one on the iPad and one from the Mac mini with the Flash based playback:
iPad (click to view full size image):
Mac mini (click to view full size image):
Mac mini closeup:
Mac Pro closeup:
While I like having HBO again, I haven't yet decided if I'll keep the subscription active when the free trial runs out on the 27th.
Inline video resized to 1920x1080:
Inline video resized closeup: