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‘HBO Go’ Mobile App Review

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Let’s get one thing out of the way — Just because we subscribe to HBO doesn’t mean we’re made of money. Sure, you can subscribe to the premium channel in the normal way, but we just call up our cable company, threaten to move to DirecTV because it offered us free HBO on a flyer, and accept a 6-month trial of the show in exchange for staying with our current provider.

The play works on Comcast and Time Warner Cable, to name at least a couple companies. And as soon as your trial period expires, you can just call back and ask for the same deal again. Sure, you’ll be turned down sometimes, but keep calling and threatening to cancel and you’ll get your way. That’s how we’ve scored HBO free for the past 16 months.

You can get a hell of a lot more out of your subscription, paid or not, if you download the HBO Go app, which gives you full access to just about all of HBO’s recent library of shows, including everything that’s airing now. Get the app and you can finish up last weekend’s Game of Thrones while you’re sitting on the porcelain throne during an office bathroom break.

Everyone’s experience with the app will vary, depending on your phone and provider, but we are close to thrilled with our less-than-optimal, 3G-only Droid 2. We tested out the app on the series Enlightened, which we were bitter was yanked off Comcast’s HBO On Demand before we could finish the first season.

We were impressed with how quickly the app boots up, launching you into the programming in a matter of seconds rather than the sometimes minute or longer it takes our Netflix app to get rolling.

HBO Go was also better than Netflix with remembering exactly where we were in each episode when we closed it out, re-starting the second where we left off almost every time. The one time it failed and re-started the episode was when our phone glitched out and crashed, probably not caused by the app.

One feature we loved, but could understand if others hate it, is the app’s shifting to audio-only rather than buffering and sticking with video. An error message told us that we could avoid the audio stream by hooking up with a WiFi connection rather than our sorry 3G, but we’d rather hear a show than be forced to sit while it buffers.

The app had its share of hiccups and buffering anyway, but no more than what we’re used to with Netflix. It was a small price to pay for getting caught up during our daily commute and coffee breaks.

RATING: 8/10.

HBO Go (Free), available on iOS and Android platforms, as well as the Xbox 360, was published by Home Box Office, Inc. We played shows on the app for two hours on a Droid 2.

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