There are many reasons why someone would want to watch TV programs and movies on their tablet. It’s one of the best ways to be entertained when traveling, those who have to share a TV can appreciate the ability to watch whatever they want on another device, and it’s great to be able to catch up on shows during lunch hour.
And tablets make good TVs thanks to a huge selection of software and even some accessories to make it easy. TabletPCReview brings you everything you need to know to get started.
Below are some of the best ways to watch TV on your iPad, Android, or Windows tablet. Some of them are only available for one or two mobile operating systems, others are only for people who have a cable subscription, and still other are best for “cord cutters” who have given up cable.
Apple iTunes Store
Everyone occasionally misses their favorite TV show. Apple sells individual episodes for $2.99, so it’s easy to get caught up the next day while commuting or sitting in the breakroom. Entire seasons can also be purchased through iTunes, typically for between $20 and $30, though some are more and others less.
This service also has a wide array of movies to buy or rent. These are ideal for taking along on a trip to watch on the plane or in the backseat of a car.
TV shows or movies can be easily purchased and watched on any iPad, or on Windows tablets that have iTunes installed. There is no Android version.
Google Play Movies and TV
Google offers a service that’s nearly identical to Apple’s but specifically for Android tablets. Prices for TV shows and movies from Google Play are sometimes higher than iTunes’, and sometimes lower.
The following options depend on whether the tablet owner is a cable subscriber, or has “cut the cord” to save money.
For Cable Subscribers
There are apps that give users access to the programs shown on cable but, for the most part, the networks that produce them don’t give their content away for free. This means that these apps are nearly useless to anyone who doesn’t have a cable subscription.
Large cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner have developed software that gives mobile users access to movies and TV shows from multiple networks… almost all the ones included in the user’s cable subscription. This even includes the ability to watch some networks streamed live. There are iPad and Android Xfinity and TWC apps, and websites for Windows computers.
In addition, a great many cable networks have created their own iOS and Android apps to allow users to watch recent full episodes of their shows, and a few include live streaming the channel. The quality of these varies quite a bit, but all are free… providing the user is a cable TV subscriber. Otherwise they just offer clips of shows.
They also have websites that Windows tablet users who have a cable subscription can use to access movies and TV shows.
Some of the most popular cable apps/sites include:
- Xfinity TV Go (iOS, Android, web)
- TWC TV (iOS, Android, web)
- HBO GO (iOS, Android, web)
- STARZ Play (iOS, Android, web)
- Max Go (iOS, Android, web)
- A&E (iOS, Android, web)
- WATCH Disney Channel (iOS, Android, web)
- HISTORY (iOS, Android, web)
- Watch TNT (iOS, Android, web)
And there are many more.
For Cord Cutters
Large number of Americans are deciding that cable TV is too expensive and have switched to only watching TV broadcast over the airwaves, or streamed over the Internet.
All of the major broadcast networks give the general public free access to recent episodes via iOS or Android apps, or their websites. These are very useful for getting caught up on a missed episode or two, but some of these include long wait times, as episodes might not be posted for up to a week after they air.
- WATCH ABC (iOS, Android, web)
- CBS (iOS, Android, web)
- The CW (iOS, Android, web)
- FOX NOW (iOS, Android, web)
- NBC (iOS, Android, web)
- PBS (iOS, web)
But these are just the start. Below are some of the best other options for cord cutters.
Many people who have given up cable have a subscription to Netflix because it offers a wide array of broadcast and cable TV shows for a low monthly cost. This service does not offer recent episodes, but primarily has previous seasons of shows in their entirety.
Its selection of movies is poor.
Those who use Netflix on a Roku or other streaming video device can also use it on their tablet for no additional cost.
There are versions of the app for iPad and Android, and Windows users can use the Netflix website designed for desktops and laptops.
Read a Netflix Review
Several of the broadcast TV networks banded together to create Hulu Plus, which offers recent episodes of large number of programs. It also has a low monthly subscription fee, but draws criticism by also including advertising during shows.
This is not a good source for movies.
There are versions of Hulu Plus for iPad and Android. Windows tablet users can access the Hulu website, which is free.
Read a Hulu Plus Review
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Amazon is more than just a gargantuan online store. Those who pay for its Prime service not get free delivery of their purchases they also gain access to a large collection of recent and classic TV programs.
Naturally, this service is accessible on Amazon’s own tablets. It can also be used on Android devices and the iPad. There is no Windows version at this time.
Beyond just playing first-run movies, the cable channel HBO produces some very popular TV shows. The company recently began offering access to its content to non-cable subscribers — the same programs and movies that are available through HBO Go. This requires a monthly fee, though.
It is available to iPad users via an app, or to Windows users over the Web. An Android version is scheduled for release later this year.
Read an HBO Now Review
Earlier this year, the satellite TV provider Dish launched a service that gives subscribers access to a collection of popular cable TV networks without needing a cable subscription. It does require a monthly $20 payment, however.
There are iOS and Android apps, and a website for Windows devices.
Read a Sling Television Review
Cord cutters who frequently plan to watch TV on a tablet should serious consider getting a Tablo. This accessory live streams or records over-the-air broadcasts, which can then be accessed on an iPad, Android, or Windows tablet. They can also be played on a Roku, Android TV, or Amazon Fire TV.
Tablo can play or record anything on any TV channel it can pick up with an antenna, including movies and sporting events.
Read a Tablo Review
Windows users can subscribe to a service called WinTV that will enable them to download episodes from a wide range of TV shows for a low monthly fee. This includes both recent episodes and complete series of classic programs from broadcast and cable networks.
Read a WinTV Review