Tablets and smart phones change TV viewing

May 8, 2012 4:07:31 PM PDT
The iPad is the fastest selling tablet computer on the market, but people who buy the device are not just using it as a computer or game system. IPads are fast becoming portable television sets, and there are now more ways to get your favorite TV on the go.

One in 10 of us are watching television shows on something other than our TV. Leading the way in online viewing is Apple's iPad. Consumer Reports says it's a rapidly changing world and the offerings really vary.

Doing the dishes doesn't stop Terry Voltaggio from watching her favorite shows. And working out doesn't prevent her from seeing her top programs. That's because she watches TV on her iPad.

She said, "I can watch it anywhere in the house at any time. I'm not tied to the television's schedule."

Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds says many satellite and cable TV providers now offer apps that allow subscribers to watch programs on an iPad.

"Some limit you to video on demand -- that's watching after the programs have aired," Reynolds explained. "But there are apps from providers like Cablevision and Time Warner that do allow you to watch live TV."

So does the app from the ESPN network, which is being heavily promoted. Another advantage with ESPN's app is that you can watch your shows away from home. That's also true of other network apps, including HBO, Showtime and PBS. But those only provide video on demand -- no live programming.

Reynolds said, "While almost all these apps are free, at least to subscribers, you could hit some other charges. If you're streaming on a wireless data plan, you could easily run up or even over your data limit. And some providers, like Comcast and Cox, even have limits for home broadband plans that you'll need to pay attention to as well."

Still, you no longer have to be tethered to your television to enjoy your favorite shows.

If you have an iPhone or an iPod touch, there are some apps available to watch TV on those, too, and even a few for Android phones. But be aware, if you get your television via satellite, there's an additional charge. You'll have to pay for either a subscription to a high-definition DVR or buy a Slingbox adapter for $99.


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