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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Friday, February 3, 2012

HBO on the GO? Yes, thank you

When I first heard about HBO GO -- the premium cable network's mobile service -- I was very interested to try it out. Although it debuted in February 2010, I wasn't aware of it until an iPad app offering the service was released last year.

I eagerly downloaded it, only to find that I could not use it. Why? Because I am a Time Warner Cable customer.

Sure, it must seem shocking that a cable provider that couldn't come to a financial agreement with the NFL to carry the NFL Network (not that that still makes me so angry that I want to hurl a football through a window or anything) also couldn't come to an arrangement with HBO to allow its paying customers to use the service, but that was in fact the deal. So when I launched the app, I learned that, as a TWC customer, I was out of luck.

Actually, it didn't bother me much at first. Really, I figured, how much was I going to watch HBO content away from home? And at home, HBO's on-demand offerings on TWC are fairly robust, so it wasn't like I was starving for more HBO content. Lastly, I guessed, HBO GO would offer the same content found on demand through my cable box, little more.

Wrong. Wrong. And drop-dead, Tony Soprano-in-a-sundress wrong.

Not long ago, TWC and HBO finally got together, and I have been happily GO-ing ever since.

HBO GO is simply packed with content. Yes, there's a selection of movies showing on the network. More importantly, though, there's a ton of HBO's original content -- documentary films, comedy and sports specials, drama and comedy series and more.

It's the availability of the series that thrills me, because, as far as I can tell, you can watch every episode of all the series made available through the service. (Using HBO On Demand through your cable box, you might get the most recent season of a show or, say, six old episodes of "The Sopranos," but not everything.)

Every episode of "The Sopranos"? Check. Of "Six Feet Under"? check.

"Entourage"? "Deadwood"? "The Wire"? Check. Check. Check.

Me? I'm waaaaay, deeeeeep back into "The Wire," arguably -- and I will argue it -- one of the greatest shows of all time. The engrossing drama examining various facets of urban life, all against the backdrop of the drug trade in Baltimore, is proving just as and maybe even more engrossing the second time through.

 These are screenshots from the HBO GO app on the iPad.

And while I use HBO GO on my iPad, primarily at a desk next to a computer, you can also use the service within a web browser or on an iPhone or Android device. It is also on its way to your big screen via Xbox Live and Roku devices, if it isn't already there.

HBO has always been that service you think about canceling when you look at your obscene cable bill. But then you think of all the content the network provides, and you decide you can find those 15 bucks or so by turning your heat further down. And now, with HBO GO, it will be nearly impossible to go away from HBO.

Thank heavens it's been a warmer winter here in Northeast Ohio.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures


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