Android App Review: NFL Mobile - Verizon Subscribers only
Image via WikipediaCue MNF music...Play the John Williams SNF prelude...Roll Hank Williams Jr...that's right, "Are you ready for some football!?!?!" It's opening night, and I've been watching more NFL Network lately since the Cubs checked out months ago. And I'm dying to try out the NFL Mobile app on my new Droid X. So, how did the app perform during primetime, and what's the real deal behind the pricing? Find out more after the jump.
Touring the app
NFL Mobile was quick to load and the settings button brings up a nicely designed menu where you can choose from items such as scores, teams, live video and fantasy tracker. You can also designate your favorite team (Da Bears) for easy access to news, schedule, stats, the roster, and injury reports. To me, the most important piece is the scores portion, and how often it updates. Again, the design of the application is well conceived, and a quick glance of the scores screen reveals all of the games on the week's schedule.
Included in the free application is audio to all of the games in progress. I tried this for the season opener, and sound streamed quickly over WiFi with a significant (1-2 minute) delay between what I saw on television and what I then heard on the feed. What was slightly less impressive was the refreshing of scores, as the app seemed to update every 30-60 seconds or so, and I didn't see a manual refresh option. Thus, as opposed to some apps on the iPad, I would not recommend NFL Mobile as a companion to the live feed.
Getting into the Redzone?
One of the most eagerly anticipated features of the NFL Mobile app was the inclusion of the ultra cool sounding, but potentially over hyped RedZone Network. There has been some chatter on forum sites about whether video streaming would be free to Droid X users or those who downloaded the app before July 19. Unfortunately, either I was unlucky or this was simply not true. Upon attempting to access the live feed for the season opener, I was prompted to sign up for V-Cast for either a monthly subscription ($10) or a daily pass ($3). A quick check of DroidForums.net revealed that I was not alone.
Touchdown, Field Goal, or Turnover?
With the disappointment of not having free access to live video and the RedZone network behind me, I performed some simple economics. A subscription to RedZone on my RCN network would cost $50 for the season. A monthly V-Cast subscription for 5 months would also cost $50 and include other videos, but would be limited to my phone (no HDMI cable for me just yet). Another contender would be to invest $30 in the Slingbox app (I have an SB setup from my iPhone days) and this would enable me to stream more than just football, though I would still need to pony up $50 for the RedZone.
In the end, I'm going to try the $3 subscription to test out the RedZone on my Droid X. Since I'll often be near a TV on Sundays, this expenditure will be more as a curiosity than a weekly recurrence. I'd love to see how the interface works and how quick (or not) the video comes through on 3G coverage. I will say that I'm disappointed that Verizon decided to charge for this, despite highlighting it as one of their great features for their phones. I suppose you have to find a way to pay for the $720 million steal from Sprint.