Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You can pre-register for Rayark’s rhythm game Cytus II on the Play Store



  • Cytus II, indie developer Rayark’s latest mobile rhythm game, is available for pre-registration on the Play Store.

  • Cytus II includes over 50 songs and five DJs to pick from.

  • The game is already available on iOS, with the full experience going for $22.



Known for making rhythm games with catchy music and striking visuals, independent Taiwanese studio Rayark announced Cytus II is available for pre-registration on the Play Store. If there was any mobile rhythm game to pre-register for, it would be this one.


As with other mobile rhythm titles, Cytus II has you tap, tap and hold, and swipe your way to the end of each song. What separates Cytus II from others is its horizontal line which scrolls faster or slower, depending on the tempo. The system can make things tricky when rapidly tapping complicated chains of notes in quick succession. However, each song has three difficulty modes to choose from, so you can get used to the mechanics over time.


Speaking of songs, there are five DJs to choose from. Each DJ specializes in a certain theme and features at least 10 songs. For example, ROBO_Head features songs that would not be out of place in a techno-infused night club, while ConneR features a classical-oriented set.


Each DJ also has a storyline that intertwines with the other DJs, though can ignore them and just enjoy Cytus II for its music and gameplay. You must dive into the “IM” part of the game to unlock songs and difficulty levels, however.




Editor’s Pick





Cytus II is not a free-to-play affair costs $3 on iOS and includes three of the five DJs. The remaining two DJs cost $10 each, bringing the total to $22 if you want the full experience. We have no reason to believe the pricing structure would differ on Android, but we will not know for sure until the game launches.


You can pre-register for Cytus II at the link below. In the meantime, if you want to download a rhythm game to tide you over, here’s our list of the 10 best rhythm games for Android for some suggestions.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Delta, Sprint, Gogo, and others team up to make in-flight internet not suck so much



  • Delta, Gogo, Sprint, and other companies announced the Seamless Air Alliance.

  • The group hopes to bring faster and easier-to-use in-flight internet connections.

  • The concept is still in its early stages and faces several obstacles.



Getting an internet connection on an object that moves at hundreds of miles per hour, almost 40,000 feet off the ground is not an easy task. In-flight internet is terrible. The Seamless Air Alliance, a new initiative announced during MWC 2018, hopes to change that and deliver broadband-level connections in the sky.


The Seamless Air Alliance is composed of in-flight internet provider Gogo, plane manufacturer Airbus, airline Delta Air Lines, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint, satellite startup OneWeb, and Indian carrier Bharti Airtel. The broader goal, reports The Wall Street Journal, is to offer in-flight internet that rivals your home Wi-Fi connection and make it as easy as possible to connect to it.


The alliance does not want to change how to equip planes with internet — it still wants to use satellites. Rather, it wants to introduce a hardware and operations standard for airlines to make the internet experience more consistent across airlines and, possibly, more affordable.


The Seamless Air Alliance also wants to make it easier to get connected. To that end, the group envisions a future where you don’t have to type in your credit card information or authenticate your device to connect.




Editor’s Pick





Getting to that future won’t be easy. Apart from technical approvals from government regulators and aviation groups, rivalries between airlines will lead to some obstacles. The Seamless Air Alliance’s concept is also still in its early stages.


Arguably the largest obstacle is time. As The Wall Street Journal noted, existing services gradually fallen in price, while similar attempts to this failed in the past.


That being said, another competitor means more choice and could lead to lower prices for consumers.

Which Galaxy S9 Color to Buy: Black, Blue or Purple?

This guide will help you decide what Galaxy S9 color to buy. You’ll be happy to learn there are multiple different colors to choose from, and at least three choices in the United States. If you’re asking yourself, “which Galaxy S9 color should I buy?” These are your options and what you need to know.


Over the years we’ve seen a lot of great color options for Samsung’s smartphones, but the Galaxy S9 changed it again. Every model is Black on the front, with different colors on the sides and the back. That’s because the huge 5.8 and 6.2-inch Infinity screens take up almost all the space.


Read: Galaxy S9 Release Date Breakdown


In fact, you don’t want colors on the front, as they’re mostly full of sensors and cameras, which get hidden by the black bezels. If you were wondering, different colors didn’t look that great on the Galaxy S8. Additionally, all black makes the screen look bigger. So, should you buy the Galaxy S9 in Black, Blue or Purple? Those are your choices in 2018.



We’ve seen Coral Blue and a few other shades of blue on the Galaxy S and Note series, but nothing like what’s available on the Galaxy S9. This year Samsung introduced a completely new Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, or a refined Coral Blue. The Blue almost looks like a greyish powered blue, which we really like.


However, the color that is extremely rare and unique is that all-new Lilac Purple. Yes, a purple smartphone.


Galaxy S9 Colors: Video & Entertainment


While this is all about personal preference, black is probably the best choice overall. It will show fewer fingerprints, fewer scuff marks, and be the best for watching videos or any entertainment. Black bezels on the front mean the huge 5.8 or 6.2-inch display blends in with the body, making it look bigger than it really is.


This may seem like a silly thing to think about, but it makes a big difference. From certain colors being fingerprint magnets to black looking extremely sleek and sexy.



Black just looks the best in my opinion, including the matte black sides, top, and bottom of the Galaxy S9. Additionally, with Black, you’ll see the notification LED easier, which is a big deal to some users.


Read: 15 Best Galaxy S9 Cases


Or, just get a case from our link above then it really doesn’t matter what color you choose. That said, we recommend potential buyers head to Best Buy during the first few weeks of March and see all of the colors for yourself. We’re hearing they might offer the Gray color too, but we can’t yet confirm that. However, seeing them in person is the best way to go.


If you already know which one you want, click here for more information about Galaxy S9 pre-orders.


Galaxy S9 Colors: Scratches and Discoloration


Another thing you’ll want to consider when choosing a color is how easily it will scratch. Or, how easily those scratches will be visible if you’re not planning on using a case. You don’t watch a certain color to scratch easily, or to discolor after a year or so of use.


Keep in mind that any color you choose is pretty durable and protected. Samsung covers the front and back in strong reinforced Gorilla Glass. That means you’ll get scratches on the glass, and not in the actual Blue or Purple color of your Galaxy S9. It will never scratch, fade, or start to look worn out. For what it’s worth, gray will hide scratches in the glass the most, and black will be pretty noticeable.



Personally, a good middle ground is the new Coral Blue color choice. As we said earlier, it’s a mix between a greyish blue with a powder coat look in my opinion. It’s really eye-catching and will look good without showing scratches.


Galaxy S9 Color: Oil & Fingerprints


Fingerprints are something we just have to deal with. Especially with a huge 5.8 or 6.2-inch screen. Due to the nature of the design, fingerprints and smudges are inevitable. The glass on front and back show everything, and they always will. The new Blue and Grey option will likely hide fingerprints the most, and black does pretty well too.


Again, we can’t be sure until we get our hands on them ourselves. We recommend going to a carrier store or Best Buy and testing this out yourself.



Samsung’s new Lilac Purple is striking

Galaxy S9 Cases & Covers


Think about whether or not you’ll use a case with the Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+. Personally, a case is highly recommended and a very good idea. These are durable phones, but they’re not scratch or shatterproof. One drop is all it takes and you might have a shattered screen.


So, if you’re getting a case, what color, or does it even matter. A case will cover almost the entire design of the Galaxy S9, aside from the front and maybe the back or bottom. You’ll see nothing but Black on the front, and whatever color you choose will show on the back where the fingerprint scanner is located.


If you’re not sure, check out this list of 15 great Galaxy S9 cases.


Which Galaxy S9 Color Should I Buy?


So, in closing, which Galaxy S9 color should you actually buy? Well, that’s completely up to you. In our opinion, they all look pretty amazing, and classy, but something about all-black just calls to me. That’s the color I’ll get, but the Coral Blue is a close second. Honestly, does it really matter though? They all look great.


In a survey of nearly 30,000 iPhone buyers from 2015, the black option was the most popular. The rest all ended in a tie. Things might be different here in 2018, so just choose whatever floats your boat. Here’s the bottom line on picking a Galaxy S9 or S9+ color.



  • Midnight Black – You’ll be watching a lot of movies, you don’t like white phone fronts, and just love the sleek look and finish.

  • Titanium Gray – A good middle ground that is fancy and flashy, but not too bright or shows every single fingerprint. You won’t use a case. (Grey is available for international markets)

  • Lilac Purple – You want a bright, vivid and crisp color that stands out from the rest. In certain light and angles, it looks extremely unique. You probably won’t use a case, and most people won’t have the same color Galaxy S9 as you. It’s kinda special.

  • Coral Blue – You want a uniquely beautiful and noticeable Galaxy S9. Coral Blue is smooth yet eye-popping, a bit underappreciated, and looks great outdoors with the sun shining on it.

Let us know which Galaxy S9 or S9+ color you plan on buying, or if you even care. At the end of the day, a large majority of owners will simply opt to use a case, and buy whatever the store has available. This covers up the color but protects the curved glass screen. If you’re still on the fence, here’s a few Galaxy S9 pre-order tips and some features you’ll love on Samsung’s new phone.


Top 10 Galaxy S9 Features You’ll Love







Variable Aperture Camera(s)


Variable Aperture Camera(s)

The biggest change with the Galaxy S9 is the camera. Samsung made huge changes and completely redesigned the cameras in these phones. 


Think about the photos your phone struggles to take. At a concert late at night, hanging out with friends at the bar, or doing anything indoors or with poor lighting conditions. 


The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ won’t have a problem with those shots. That’s because just like the human eye opens wide in a dark room and adjusts so you can see, the Galaxy S9 lens changes aperture at night. Going between a f/1.5 aperture, to a wide, bright f/2.4 aperture if you’re outdoors. 


This way you’ll get the best possible aperture and camera lens for a low-light photo at night or indoors. But then when you go outside it shrinks, just like human eyes, to capture more detail. 


Basically, the Galaxy S9 camera physically moves, and changes, on the fly for the best photo in any situation. 


Sunday, February 25, 2018

8 Galaxy S9 Pre-Order Tips


The Samsung Galaxy S9 launch is here and pre-orders go live in the United States this Friday. If you’re thinking about putting in an early order, make sure you do some prep work before you pull the trigger.


Samsung’s confirmed the Galaxy S9 pre-order date for March 2nd with a release date set for March 16th.


If you’re planning to pre-order the Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+, there some tasks you should perform if you want the process to go smoothly.


Pre-orders for Android phones aren’t as hectic as iPhone pre-orders and we don’t expect the Galaxy S9 to sell out in the United States. Carriers and retailers should have ample Galaxy S9 stock available and that means you can take your time preparing for the big day.


Before you pre-order you’ll want to weigh your options and decide on the best place to order your Galaxy S9.


You’ll want to prep for an early shipment and learn how to track your order to your doorstep. This way, your phone won’t be sitting on your doorstep while you’re at work.


Our guide will also take you through a few other useful tips including a simple way to check your upgrade status and some trade-in ideas for those of you looking to cut down the Galaxy S9’s price.


Remember, you’ll need a decent amount of information handy if you want to pre-order a Galaxy S9 so you’ll want to have some very specific details on hand when you go to buy your phone in March.






Check Your Upgrade Right Now


Check Your Upgrade Right Now

If you’re planning to buy the Galaxy S9 as soon as it goes on sale on March 2nd you’ll want to make sure you’re eligible for an upgrade. Do it before you go to buy the phone or before you head into a store. 


If your upgrade isn’t until late April or later, you might not be able to put in an online pre-order for the Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+ since your line isn’t eligible. 


If your upgrade comes early enough in the year, there’s a chance you’ll be able to snag a Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+ on their release date.


Fortunately, checking your current upgrade status is easy and should only take you a few minutes to complete.


Here’s how to check your upgrade online at Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. You can also call your carrier’s customer service line and check your status if you prefer to talk to someone. 



Vivo APEX hands-on: The next step in the evolution of fingerprint sensors






Whether because of the war on bezels or because it’s simply more ergonomic, it seems like more and more smartphone manufacturers are moving fingerprint sensors to back of their phones. Most flagships have them. The HTC U11+ recently opted for a rear fingerprint scanner for the first time, and the newly announced Galaxy S9 has one as well (in the right place this time, too). But Vivo is going in a different direction.


Only a month after unveiling the X20 Plus UD at CES 2018, which featured a fingerprint scanner underneath the display, Vivo is now showing off the APEX FullView Concept Phone, which takes the idea even further.



Where the X20 Plus UD had a glowing fingerprint on the display with a sensor embedded underneath, this new concept phone makes the entire bottom half of the screen capable of reading your fingerprint. Instead of a small light shining where the sensor was, this new concept phone shines a large block of light capable of reading your fingerprint anywhere across the phone’s bottom half.


The entire bottom half of the screen capable of reading your fingerprint



This phone is basically all screen, with almost no bezels, so finding a spot on the screen to unlock the phone is a non-issue. The top and side bezels measure only 1.8mm while the bottom bezel is 4.3mm. Vivo claims that if the bottom bezel matched the other three, the phone would have a screen-to-body ratio above 98 percent.


This is good news if you love watching videos on your phone, but so much screen means there isn’t much room for other things normally found on the front of a phone. Vivo had to hide the proximity sensor under the glass, and the ambient light sensor was moved to the very top of the phone.



The front-facing camera had to move too. Unlike the solutions of Sharp, Essential, and Apple, Vivo made the selfie camera rise out of the top of the phone when selected in the camera app. It rocks an 8MP sensor for crispy selfies and rises in 0.8 seconds. On the back you’ll find a dual-camera setup, but because it was a only concept Vivo didn’t put any emphasis on it.


The large screen isn’t just for watching videos



Another side effect of such a large screen is having no space for a speaker, so Vivo made the screen itself vibrates to produce sound using the company’s Screen SoundCasting Technology. Whether watching a YouTube video or making a phone call the audio is surprisingly clear and loud. If you’re on a phone call the APEX can also adjust the vibrations of the screen so that you can hear the person loud and clear, but anyone standing next to you won’t be able to listen in.



Vivo also decided to keep the headphone jack. Even in a concept phone, that’s a good thing. Vivo also included a DAC and three amps inside. It seems a little weird to go all-in on something like high quality audio, at least until you remember this is a concept phone. Vivo’s not out to make money, it’s trying to prove what can be done. All of that tech is packed into a solid metal body that didn’t seem much thicker than something like the Razer phone.


The entire experience was not as accurate or quick as the single point sensor



Because of the large sensor size, you can even register two fingers to the system, so the phone only unlocks when both press firmly on the screen simultaneously. It’s clever, but not as accurate or quick as the single point sensor we tried at CES. Registering fingerprints is a little glitchy and took more than a few tries to get right. It also required pressing harder than what felt natural on the screen. At least in the demo version of the software we got to try, unlocking the phone was a bit sluggish and laggy.


The APEX FullView is a concept phone in every way, but we still came away impressed. Where the Vivo X20 Plus UD was a fully functioning smartphone that even went on sale in China, the APEX FullView is more of an experiment to push the technology to its limits. It’s not ready to go to market yet, but it made us excited for the future of smartphones.

What the heck is the Galaxy S9’s dual aperture?


Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on January 15. This post was updated with the latest info from Samsung.


Smartphone manufacturers are forever finding new ways to differentiate and improve the cameras in their handsets, with innovations ranging from powerful new dual-sensor technologies through to superior software processing. This year Samsung looks set to provide another new shooting option for budding photographers with a dual aperture inside its upcoming Galaxy S9 flagship.


The Galaxy S9 ships with a new 12 megapixel rear camera capable of switching between f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures. This isn’t the first product to launch with this technology. Samsung’s most recent high-end flip phone, the W2018, has a similar design.


Read: Galaxy S9 announced – The best just got better


A camera’s aperture refers to the size of the opening through which light enters the camera and reaches the sensor. Aperture is measured in f-stops, a ratio of the focal length divided by the opening size. The smaller the f-stop, the wider the opening — allowing more light to reach the sensor. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will be able to switch between two different sized openings, which has some interesting implications for taking pictures. You can learn more about how aperture affects photography in our in-depth breakdown.


Why include a dual aperture?



Because smartphone cameras have much smaller image sensors than their DSLR counterparts, improving the amount of light recorded by the sensor is of prime importance if smartphones are to continue to chase higher image quality. Smartphone camera performance is clearly at its most disadvantaged in low light conditions; you’ve probably observed very noisy night time pictures yourself. A wider aperture (smaller f-stop) allows more light to the sensor and helps to solve this problem.


Samsung is aiming to improve the appearance of its night time and low light shots by allowing more light into the sensor. Very wide apertures have to be balanced with exceptional lens design and manufacturing, in order to minimize potential aberrations or distortion in images, like a lack of sharpness, blurring, or flaring. By itself, a wider aperture is no guarantee of increased image quality, but it can help in low light if the whole camera package is well constructed.




Editor’s Pick





Equally important is the potential for overexposing images when light is plentiful. While lower ISO and fast shutter speeds could help counteract any overexposure from a wide aperture, they limit shooting options and might not even result in correctly exposed images. Limiting the light entering the sensor with a second smaller aperture setting is a more flexible solution which enables the best of both worlds. It’s a must-have feature for serious photographers.


It’s also important to remember the relationship between aperture, focal length, and depth of field. As phone sensors are very close to the lens, the field of view is quite wide and the depth of field isn’t too shallow. However, there’s been a recent fad for artsy bokeh effects, and it’s inclusion has arguably been the bigger draw for dual camera systems, like the one in Apple’s recent iPhone, rather than the telephoto lens’ 2x zoom capability.


Widening the aperture leads to a shallower depth of field, producing a more pronounced blurring of the background. On top of improving low light performance, a wider aperture option will also allow photographers some extra creative flexibility with their shots.


How it works


Samsung’s dual aperture technology appears to work in a near identical way to traditional variable aperture cameras. The images we’ve seen from the W2018 point to a miniaturized version of conventional overlapping aperture blades to control the size of the opening. It’s an entirely mechanical technology.



However, instead of moving between a maximum and minimum size to produce a range of aperture settings, Samsung’s implementation is limited to two different settings — f/1.5 and f/2.4. It’s not entirely clear why only two aperture options are offered. There could be some limitations with the miniaturized technology which make switching more viable than the more traditional variable movement of the blade you’ll find in larger cameras. The small size also might not lend itself to a huge difference in performance at incremental sizes changes, only becoming pronounced at maximum and minimum openings.


It’s also possible this was a software decision, as it’s not necessarily easy or desirable to hand control of the aperture over to users mostly familiar with the point and click convenience of a smartphone.


Samsung could offer both automatic and manual control of the aperture to suit a range of users.



Samsung offers both automatic and manual control (in Pro mode) of the aperture to suit a range of users.


Better pics with the Galaxy S9



Ultimately what’s most important is whether or not the phone will take better pictures. Last generation telephoto lenses didn’t provide a major shakeup to the quality of smartphone pictures. There’s no guarantee Samsung’s dual aperture technology will be a game changer either.


Read: First Galaxy S9 camera samples


On paper the idea is sound and it could lead to some notably better pictures. Optimizing the camera’s aperture for good and poor lighting conditions should ensure better exposure in low light (a traditional weak-spot for smartphones). It might also provide more adventurous photographers with some extra shooting options as well.


We’re certainly looking forward to going hands-on with Samsung’s latest camera technology once the Galaxy S9 arrives. We’ll just have to wait a few more days to try it out.

Friday, February 23, 2018

10 Best Moto Z2 Play Cases

These are the best Moto Z2 Play cases to keep your modular phone looking nice and new. Moto Mods offer plenty of extra features, but they don’t protect your phone. As a result, we highly recommend Moto Z2 Play owners get a case.


The Moto Z2 Play is an impressive budget-friendly phone capable of accessing all the mods that make Motorola phones exciting. It’s also really thin and slippery, so a case is probably a good idea. We’ve found a few from brands we know, use, and trust.


Read: 10 Moto Z Tips & Tricks


We’ve found sleek cases that cost less than $8, which is far cheaper than the $200 it will cost to replace a broken screen. You’ll need to spend nearly $40 for the best protection from reputable brands or for a case with more features. Then, we’ve gathered a few cases in-between those prices so you can find what’s right for you.



While we recommend investing in a quality case or Mod from Motorola themselves, even a cheap $7-8 TPU case is better than nothing. They’ll still protect the screen and that protruding camera lens. Both of which are very important. Our more expensive options have thicker more durable materials, kickstands, or extra feature if needed.


Read: Best Moto Mods for the Moto Z


Some may skip buying a case so they don’t cover up the premium design, or because you can’t use Moto Mods with a case. We recommend getting one anyway. We have some durable clear cases that will show off the stylish good looks of your phone. Whenever a MotoMod isn’t in use, throw your phone in a case and keep it safe from life’s daily hazards.


A case will prevent damage to your Moto from keys or coins in a purse or anything else you do each day. Not to mention it will help it last longer. If you want to keep your phone looking new consider these case options from OtterBox, Incipio, and other big names. Pick a Moto Z2 Play case from the slideshow below, and check back soon as we’ll update when more become available.






Incipio DualPro for Moto Z2 Play


Incipio DualPro for Moto Z2 Play

One of the most popular brands when it comes to smartphone protection is Incipio. They became a household name for their iPhone cases and now offer something for almost every phone. 


Thankfully Incipio’s most popular case, the DualPro series, is available for the new Moto Z2 Play. It’s one of the original dual-layer cases on the market and offers some of the best protection money can buy. 


The Incipio DualPro for the Z2 Play is simple really. It uses a shock absorbing inner layer of soft and flexible TPU material. Basically, silicone and rubber mixed together. It’s extremely durable. Then, to make things even better there’s a hard polycarbonate plastic layer on the outside. This makes it rugged, easy to hold, and strong enough for a military-grade rating. This means you could drop the phone from nearly 10-feet and its certified to survive. Now that’s peace of mind. 


Buy it Now on Amazon for $21 (7 colors to choose from)


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Google promises Android (Go edition) phones at MWC 2018



  • Android (Go edition) is a version of the OS designed specifically for devices running under 1 GB of RAM.

  • Google posted a blog entry in which it announces that the first Android (Go edition) devices will appear at MWC 2018.

  • Some of these entry-level devices will come in under the $50 price range.



Today Google promised on its blog to show off the first Android (Go edition) phones at Mobile World Congress 2018 next week. It also pledged the phones, in some cases under $50 each, would be available for purchase “soon after” the reveal.


Back in December, the company rolled out Android Oreo (Go edition) as part of the Android 8.1 wide release. Designed specifically for entry-level devices with 1 GB of RAM or less, Android (Go edition) gives manufacturers a stable, beautiful, and easy-to-use software experience for their very low-price phones.


Android (Go edition) is a slimmer and less resource-heavy version of the full Android Oreo experience. As such, Google has also been slowly releasing (Go edition) versions of its most popular apps, including Gmail, Chrome, Maps, and the Google Play Store itself.




Editor’s Pick





Google also heavily reworked Google Assistant into a (Go edition) version that lets people quickly send messages, make calls, set alarms, and more using only their voice. However, since Google Assistant currently only works with eight languages, people in the developing countries Android (Go edition) is geared towards may have to wait before the app supports their native language.


Still, for many people around the globe an Android (Go edition) phone will not only be their first smartphone but also their first chance to access the internet. Many nations don’t have easy access to the world wide web and it’s terrific Google is making it easy for manufacturers to get devices with reliable software to those nations at the lowest price possible.


In the blog post, Google also discusses the massive impact of Android in the past ten years (2 billion active devices from 1,300 brands across 24,000 unique products), as well as its continued support of Android One devices. You can read the full post here.

DirecTV Now vs Hulu vs PlayStation Vue vs Sling TV vs YouTube TV – best live TV apps!

Live TV apps are hitting the Internet in a big way. They offer a lot of benefits over traditional cable. You don’t need a specific box to watch TV. Additionally, you don’t need a cable company drilling holes in your wall or setting up special cables. All you need is an Internet connection. There are several decent live TV apps currently available. However, the big dogs include DirecTV Now, Hulu TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. Which one is right for you? Let’s compare them and see!




Sling TV - best live tv apps comparison


Channel, price, and platform availability


Let’s start off with the basics. Each service offers a variety of channels on a variety of platforms. Typically, you want the one that fits best with your current setup. That’s not very difficult to do. Let’s get the quick data out of the way:


DirecTV Now:


  • $35 per month for 60 channels (Live A Little package). All packages include local TV stations.

  • $50 per month for 80 channels (Just Right package).

  • $60 per month for 100 channels (Go Big package).

  • $70 per month for 120 channels (Gotta Have It package).

  • HBO and Cinemax are available as add-ons for $5 per month each. STARZ is available for $8 per month.

  • Click here to see their current packages and offers.

  • Supported platforms include Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th generation), Chromecast, Roku, Android (phones and tablets), iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and on computers via web browsers.

  • Click here to see their currently supported platforms.

Hulu TV:


  • $39.99 per month for 50 channels, including local TV stations. This is Hulu’s only live TV plan right now.

  • HBO is a premium add-on for $14.99 per month. Cinemax is available for $9.99 per month. SHOWTIME is also available for $8.99 per month.

  • Click here to see their current packages and offers.

  • Hulu is available basically everywhere. However, many platforms don’t have live TV support. The ones with live TV support include Android (tablets and phones), Chromecast, Roku, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV (4th generation), Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and select Samsung smart TVs.

  • Click here for their full device support list.

PlayStation Vue


  • $39.99 per month for ~50 channels (Access package). All packages include local channels as well.

  • $44.99 per month for ~60 channels (Core package).

  • $54.99 per month for ~70 channels (Elite package).

  • $74.99 per month for ~70 channels (Ultra). This is basically the same as the Elite package, but includes HBO and SHOWTIME.

  • Standalone channels include HBO for $15 per month, SHOWTIME for $10.99 per month, Fox Soccer Plus for $14.99 per month, Epix for $3.99 per month, and Cinemax for $15.00 per month.

  • There is also a Sports Pack for $10 per month that adds about a dozen channels as well as a Spanish language pack for $4.99 per month.

  • PlayStation Vue also offers bundles (like HBO and Cinemax together) for discounted rates. PlayStation Plus members may get additional discounts on some bundles.

  • Click here for the full details on channels and pricing.

  • Supported platforms include PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th generation), Android TV, iPhone, iPad, Android (tablets and phones), Chromecast, and on most computers via web browser.

  • Click here for the full list of supported devices.

Sling TV


  • $20 per month for about 30 channels (Sling Orange package). All packages include local channels as well.

  • $25 per month for about 45 channels (Sling Blue package).

  • Sling TV has just over 30 add-ons for additional content. Some of them include over a dozen additional channels. That is truly absurd, but in a good way. We won’t list them here because that would take way too long. Instead, we recommend you click here to scroll through them in a more organized fashion. We heartily applaud the level of customization that Sling TV includes with all of these add-ons.

  • Sling TV also offers direct integration with AirTV devices. AirTV is a digital antenna tuner that grants access to local TV stations as long as you live within range of the signal towers. That usually means you have to live in or near a city. It’s expensive, but it all but guarantees local channel support as long as you live in or near those broadcast towers.

  • Sling TV has a rather large list of supported devices. They include Android (phones and tablets), Chromecast, Android TV, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Roku, Amazon Fire TV (and Fire Tablets), Xbox One, most computers via web browser, and basically any LG or Samsung smart TV. It also supports a bunch of additional, albeit less popular platforms.

  • Click here to see the full list for yourself!

YouTube TV


  • $35 per month for over 40 channels. This also includes YouTube Red Originals if you want to watch those. This is YouTube’s only package right now.

  • Additional channels include SHOWTIME for $11 per month, Fox Soccer Plus for $15 per month, Shudder for $5 per month, and Sundance Now for $7 per month.

  • HBO and a few other large channels are notably absent from YouTube TV. However, this is likely a temporary problem while YouTube TV grows.

  • Supported devices include Google Chromecast, Android (tablets and phones), Xbox One, Roku, Apple TV, some Samsung and LG smart TVs, and on most computers via web browser.

  • Click here to check out the full channel lineup as well as supported devices. They’re on the same web page.

  • YouTube TV is adding more channels in the near future and also raising its prices. You can read more about that here.

Some thoughts


Overall, all of these services offer a bunch of packages and a bunch of channels in a bunch of different configurations. There aren’t a ton of similarities between them. However, there are some things that we can glean:


  • All five services offer local channels in the base package. This is great news because those are the channels you can generally get for free with a digital TV antenna.

  • All five services offer some form of back-logged or content. In other words, they all carry previous episodes of many TV shows and movies that aired recently on TV. This is referred to as “on demand content”. How much and which shows depends on the service. Some have more than others and all five services have slightly different collections.

  • There are three types of Internet TV types. PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now very closely emulate regular cable TV with tons of channels for quite a bit of money. YouTube TV and Hulu TV offer single, simplified plans without a ton of extra options. Sling TV stands alone with its customizable “a la carte” style selection.

  • Despite what the plans say, Sling TV has more channels than any other competitor, followed by DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Hulu TV, and YouTube TV, respectively. Sling TV also becomes the most expensive by a lot if you pick up every available add-on.

  • Local channel support depends on where you live. Most places won’t have full local channel support. On the plus side, usually you do get an “on-demand” feature that lets you watch local TV content 24 hours after it airs.

  • Channel selection and platform support will vary as time goes. If you’re reading this far into the future (check the publish date), you may want to check the links for the channel and platform support in the rundowns above to see if anything has changed.


best live tv apps comparison


Extra features


TV is the big thing these companies compete for. However, each app also offers a small number of additional benefits. We won’t list the super obvious ones like discovery features, closed captioning, or playlist features because they exist on basically all of these services. This is just the unique stuff. They are as follows:


DirecTV Now


Hulu


  • Hulu TV has a cloud DVR service with up to 50 hours of recording time. There is an upgrade package that increases that to 200 hours with no limits on simultaneous recordings.

  • A live TV subscription also gets you the regular Hulu service as well. That’s a potent one-two punch. You do not have to pay for live TV and regular Hulu separately.

  • A $14.99 per month add-on allows for streaming to an unlimited number of devices connected to your home network and up to three mobile screens not connected to your home network. There are still heavier restrictions for premium add-ons like HBO, though. The service allows for two continuous streams at once without this package.

PlayStation Vue


  • The service includes a cloud DVR. They aren’t overly transparent on its limitations. However, it does lean heavily on the back-logged content we mentioned earlier, meaning it just gives you access to older episodes of shows rather than “recording” them. They do boast “hundreds of hours”, though.

  • PlayStation Plus members get slight discounts to premium channels and channel bundles.

  • PlayStation Vue members can use their login credentials to sign into “TV anywhere” apps that usually require a cable subscription login (such as Discovery GO, Big Ten Network, WatchESPN, FOX Sports GO, etc). You can find that full list here.

  • PlayStation Vue comes with up to five simultaneous streams as long as they’re registered to the Vue account.

  • The PlayStation 4 gets a unique multi-view mode with up to three live programs on the same screen.

Sling TV


  • Sling TV offers cloud DVR. However, it does cost an extra $5 per month. This fits with their “a la carte” style, but it’s a standard feature everywhere else. Regular cloud DVR gets 50 hours of storage. Beta cloud DVR users apparently get double that.

  • The aforementioned AirTV integration gives Sling TV a native set-top box from which to operate. Additionally, the digital TV antenna gives it better local channel support than most competitors (in most areas) for those who live in or near major cities.

  • Sling TV is a little light on extra features, but we’d like to reiterate that there are dozens of channel add-ons. That level of customization is unique to Sling TV when compared to its competitors.

  • The stock Sling TV package (Orange) come with one simultaneous stream. The Blue package comes with up to three streams at once. Those who subscribe to both at once get up to five simultaneous streams at once. You can learn more about that here.

YouTube TV


  • Google very proudly flaunts an unlimited cloud DVR service for YouTube TV.

  • YouTube TV memberships are shareable with up to six total accounts. Each account gets its own cloud DVR, login, and personal library. However, the service limits the number of simultaneous streams to three to prevent abuse.

  • You also get free access to YouTube Red Originals. That’s okay, we guess. In addition, YouTube Red subscribers won’t see ads on YouTube Red Originals content on YouTube TV.

Some thoughts


The live TV apps seem to focus more on providing good, stable live TV than offering a ton of additional features. However, they do all seem to have a level of parity when it comes to most things. Here are some final thoughts on the extra features:


  • YouTube TV is the best service for large households. The six accounts per membership feature is just outstanding.

  • All five services (sans DirecTV Now, for now) offer cloud DVR support. However, they also allow you to watch previous episodes of TV shows or sports games anyway. In many cases, cloud DVR simply isn’t always necessary.

  • Hulu has more content than any other service in this comparison. The live TV with the binge-ready catalog of regular Hulu content is an extraordinary value for the money. By contrast, paying that much extra to Hulu for multiple screens and tiered cloud DVR negates that value a little bit.

  • PlayStation Vue’s cable TV login feature is both vastly underrated and strangely not necessary. If you’re streaming TV already, having a second app that streams TV with a cable login feels redundant unless those apps have exclusive content. However, if you regularly watch TV on a platform Vue doesn’t support, those login credentials are handy.


best live tv apps comparison - playstation vue


Streaming quality


Streaming quality is a bit of a hairy subject. These companies don’t publicly publish things like bit-rate, frame rate, or other such stats. There is actually very little that we know for sure about stream quality aside from the old eye test. There are debates about what streaming service has the best quality. However, without hard stats, it’s difficult to ascertain. A lot of things go into quality, including an individual’s Internet speed, whether or not the service is having server issues, the resolution of the screen, and other such variables. Those with 1080p phone screens and excellent Internet have better quality than someone with a 4K TV and slow Internet. Additionally, the TV networks themselves have control over maximum resolution and frame rates. It’s a giant confusing ball. In any case, here’s what we know:


  • All five services stream at 720p with varying bitrates (usually set in app’s settings menu). You can find debates everywhere swearing up and down that every service has the best quality.

  • All five services have channels that both 720p and 1080p. It’s mostly up to the broadcast networks when it comes to resolution. Some simply don’t do 1080p and some simply do. Each service has a different list of available channels in higher definition.

  • In terms of pure quality, there isn’t much to go on. Obviously, 1080p with 60FPS is the sweet spot. However, no service offers that consistently. Bitrates vary between services, Internet connections, and markets. A 4K TV with sub-par upscaling and a bad Internet connection will affect quality more than the actual bitrate differences between the services.

  • Based on our eye tests and research, the consensus is that YouTube TV has the best “quality” while Sling TV is often described as the worst with the other three slotting into the middle. However, the differences are actually fairly marginal. We wouldn’t recommend turning down a service that’s better for you just for a bit of extra sharpness.


Hulu TV - best live tv apps comparison


Design and UI


Design and UI is more preference than anything. In terms of pure usability, none of these services are bad. Whether or not you like the layout and design depends greatly on how you prefer apps to work. In addition, the layout can change from platform to platform to make proper use of that platform’s controls and design elements. We do have some observations, though:


  • In general, all five services look and act nicer on big screen platforms than on mobile.

  • All five services have mobile phone apps with Chromecast support.

  • All five services allow for cross-platform syncing of things like favorites and DVR (where applicable).

  • None of the services are generally difficult to use, although elements of the mobile apps can be confusing.

  • None of the services follow a distinct pattern of use. Their guides, menus, etc are all slightly different. They ultimately get you to the same destination, but they take somewhat different paths to get there.

  • That said, YouTube TV has the most beautifully designed mobile app. However, much like Google’s other streaming apps, it tends to require tons of taps and swipes to get what you want. That isn’t a problem on other platforms.

  • Of them, PlayStation Vue has the worst design for a mobile app. Many of its unique elements simply don’t translate well to mobile controls. Again, this isn’t a problem on other platforms.

  • Realistically, the UI doesn’t matter that much. None of them are so good or so bad that it changes how the experience is. The features, channels, and prices matter more than the occasional extra swipe or menu quirk.

  • Admittedly, we didn’t test these on every single platform where they’re available. In most cases, the UI is more or less the same between them with only minor tweaks to make it work on that individual platform.


YouTube TV - best live tv apps comparison


Overall


We could go and rank all of these as best to worst. However, we felt that it would be more appropriate to outline what each of these does well. Calling one the worst and another the best could easily get taken out of context. In reality, all of these services are good in their own way. It all really depends on what you’re looking for. So here is what each of these do well and do poorly.


DirecTV Now


We’ll be honest, we went into this project thinking that DirecTV Now was going to be the easy scapegoat. We were wrong. The service excels at providing a very PlayStation Vue-like experience for less money. It features tons of channels for decent prices and several packages to choose from. Additionally, its HBO, STARZ, and Cinemax add-ons are cheaper than any of the other services. 60 channels and HBO for $40 per month is a surprisingly excellent value. Hulu alone costs $40 for fewer channels and no HBO (and YouTube isn’t much cheaper for even less content). It lacks DVR, but does have a 72-hour rewind feature that acts similarly. Plus, DVR is coming before too long anyway. We would recommend this service to people who like a ton of TV and also want HBO. Additionally, AT&T customers get some extra perks so we would definitely recommend AT&T customers look at this one first.


Hulu TV


Hulu TV doesn’t excel at much, honestly. They get out performed in channel selection, DVR, price, concurrent streams, and even streaming quality by at least one competitor. However, Hulu does have its benefits. A subscription to the service also gets you a subscription to regular Hulu. That makes Hulu the only service with a one-two punch of live TV and also a binge-friendly streaming selection. It’s also available on more platforms than many competitors, although live TV support still hasn’t rolled out to all the platforms that Hulu supports with its regular service. It does have cloud DVR included in the basic subscription. We recommend this one to existing Hulu customers who may want to add a bit of live TV to their experience and don’t necessarily need a lot of channels or a customizable channel selection. We would also recommend this to people who enjoy binge watching old TV but also want a live TV experience as well.


PlayStation Vue


PlayStation Vue slots into a weird spot in this space. It runs a little more expensive than DirecTV Now. However, it has more concurrent streams (five for PlayStation Vue versus two for DirecTV Now) and excellent DVR. It also has above average streaming quality. That makes it a decent choice if you don’t mind paying a premium for fewer channels but better features. Additionally, PlayStation Plus members get additional discounts and deals. It also comes with multi-screen support on PlayStation. That makes it a good first choice for PlayStation 3 or 4 owners. Its five concurrent streams also make it great for busy households. However, under most circumstances, DirecTV Now does what PlayStation Vue does but cheaper.


Sling TV


Sling TV is the cheapest solution for those who want the most basic TV access. Its “a la carte” approach is refreshingly different and its 30+ add-on packages really let you customize your TV subscription. It’s a level of customization that no competitor even comes close to matching. Those add-ons do add up quickly, though, resulting in prices higher than some competitors in many cases. Sling TV also has the unique ability to integrate digital TV antennas into its service via AirTV. That guarantees local station support for those who live close enough to (or in a) city. The biggest con to Sling TV is the cost as you add more and more channels. There comes a point where it may be more economical to just do one of the big packages from a competitor to save a few bucks. Otherwise, there isn’t much wrong with Sling TV. The service’s selection of international TV content also makes it great for non-English speakers as well.


YouTube TV


YouTube TV is one of the weaker options overall right now. Its unlimited cloud DVR service is somewhat mitigated by strong offerings in on-demand content from all five services. Plus, its channel add-ons are on the expensive side and YouTube TV offers no customization in terms of pricing. Finally, YouTube Red is one of the weaker perks compared to something like Hulu’s extensive on-demand library of binge content. Still, there are some benefits to YouTube TV. It caters well to large households with its six accounts per membership, even if it only allows three concurrent streams. Plus, it offers some of the best streaming quality and app design among all five services. If that’s what you want, then YouTube TV may be for you. However, it has a long way to go before it starts outright beating competitors in this space.



best live tv apps


Final thoughts


The Internet TV market is rather young. The oldest of these services is a mere three years old to date. We expect to see massive improvements, changes, and new features over the coming years. Right now is an excellent time to check out these services. However, don’t expect all of this stuff to be the same in a few years from now. In fact, most of these services should see major changes within the next year. If we missed something you think is important about these services, tell us about them in the comments!

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