As most of us, I spend a fair chunk amount of my free time to watch movies and TV series, and as most of us, on Netflix. While Netflix has some very good content, and they have been adding great original TV series (House of Cards, Daredevil, Stranger Things, Narcos, just to name a few), those have not been enough for me. I want to watch Games of Throne, The Wire, The Sopranos, Silicon Valley etc, but sadly, they are pretty HBO-exclusive, so to watch them, I have two options: either buy the discs (Very expensive), or subscribe to HBO (much cheaper).

Fine, I decided to suspend my Netflix for a month a resume my HBO Nordics subscription. At least for one month to watch the good content there. Last year I did try HBO one month, for free, but I cancelled it – which I have no clear memory why I did. May be it will work this time.

Unfortunately it does not.

Right after I tried HBO again, it’s clear to me why I left HBO at the first place – and sadly, there are several reasons for that.

No native apps

I have two TVs, one LG which runs its own OS – which I’m not sure which is, but probably WebOS, and one Panasonic, which runs FirefoxOS. Both have Netflix native apps and they runs smoothly – my Panasonic is even 4K and there have been no problems with Netflix (as long as the network is OK then the streaming is just fine). Guess what? HBO have no apps on both of the OSes. The only option I have is to install an app on my PlayStation 4, and then watch HBO from there (and that’s even new, it was not there last year).

Needless to say, this is not the way I wanted it to be. With Netflix, I just need to turn my TV on and do everything with my remote control – but now I have to use both the remote control and the DualShock controller. And that’s not the only bad thing – When I watch with my TV only, it’s completely silent. My PS4 is not. It’s not a noisy little machine, but the fan is audible and that troubles me a little bit. And if you want reduce your electric bill – good luck with that. PS4 is almost 80 w when it’s running – and higher with PS4 Pro. It’s not that much, but it’s clearly not “nothing”, and still a waste.

And ever worse, the app is very unreliable. Whenever I resume it from a suspend – either because I put my PS4 to sleep, or because I switched to a game, it crashes. Every time. The only option? Well, wait for it to complete “crashing” and restart.

This does not happen at all with Amazon Prime Video app. I tried Prime Video and the biggest minus is they have no native app for my TV. But at least their PS app is decent. It just picks up where I left off, and continues playing without a hiccup, smooth and easy. Why do you hate your app so much, HBO?

I’ve never seen an “official app” of a paid service has this low rating.

Well, to be fair, HBO – at least – has native apps on iOS and Android. But is it any good? Let’s me tell you one fact: their app on Android for HBO Nordics, is rated 2.5/5.

Update: After one year, it is now rated 2.1/5. I am speechless. Netflix and Amazon Prime apps are rated 4.4/5 and 4.2/5, respectively.

While an app which is rated 4+ can still be crap, a 2.5 stars app undoubtedly is. It’s a clear sign that the app is not cared in any ways – either features are missing or UI is bad, or the app crashes every time, or, all of them. Look at the reviews  – HBO simply does not address users’ problems.

Come on HBO – it’s not that hard to develop your own native apps on popular platform. And then make it at least usable! HBO Go has a decent app – there is no reason HBO Nordics can’t be something like that.

Unusable UX

If you think Netflix UI is bad – you should really try HBO. No, seriously.

I found Netflix UI to be usable – it might not be the best UI out there – but it’s easy enough to use with just my remote control. Except for search. Well, everything is bad on a remote control when it comes to searches. Hard to blame Netflix here.

Netflix: I can continue where I left off

But let me put this very clear: HBO (Nordics) UI sucks. Sucks big times, indeed.

Browsing through category sucks.

Every time I open the app – I have to find the show I was watching. And I have to browse between seasons and episodes to find where I left off.

Everytime I open HBO, it’s a new list again and again

Seriously?

And it gets worse. No autoplay. At all. Which means after I finish an episode, I have to go to the next episode and click play again.

I have to open each episode to “Add to watchlist”. WTF?

Why HBO? Why do you have to make it so damn hard to enjoy a show. I just want that when I turned HBO on (well – it’s already complicated enough), I can continue watching, with a click or so. What’s so difficult about that?

And while the HBO Nordics has many great content – there is no English subtitle at all. Come on. Netflix in Sweden does not have English subtitle on every content, but there still enough sufficient number of content which have. Yes, even if I could read Swedish, it’s more enjoyable to have English subtitles to match with what the characters are saying.

Not HBO.

There has been a trend of “Netflix and chill”. Have you ever heard somebody say “HBO and chill”? I bet not. And it was because of reasons.

And that is not the end of the problems

In addition for all of the bad things above, HBO Nordics also has the worst picture quality in all three major streaming services. I’m not that picky, but Netflix 4K is a winner, following closely by Amazon Prime 4K videos.

HBO Nordics is not just behind. It’s far, far behind.

Watching the flagship TV series, Games of Throne, should be used as an show case for their service. You know, many people, like me, pay HBO because of such series. Nope. The quality is passable at best. It looks fairly OK on bright scenes, but when it comes to dark scenes, you can see a clear sign that the video has been compressed too much, lost of details and artifacts are every where. This, and the missing of English subtitles, make it barely bearable to watch, not that enjoyable.

Conclusion

HBO Nordics is bad. I subscribed for the content, but I can’t stand the bad UI or the bad decisions with the service. They tried hard to ruin the experience for me. I can no longer sit down on my sofa and enjoy some of great TV shows – I really missed Netflix on that regard. I made sure to cancel my subscription – then watch as much content as I can, before leaving it and go back to Netflix.

Goodbye HBO. You won’t be missed.

Update:

After I cancelled my subscription, I can no longer view the content, even my subscription will only end in August 15th. I can still view the titles, but not the content.

This is the worst experience ever. I have never hated a service as much as I do, with HBO Nordics.

 

 


2 Comments

HBO user · July 24, 2016 at 7:48 pm

Android? Seriously? Have you tried iOS: Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, whatever…

Your review is too harsh.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: