Sunday, January 30, 2022

A good look at HBO Max

After a couple of earlier musings on HBO Max, and an abbreviated test run, I finally was able to spend some time actually using the service. I like it. I won't keep it, but I like it.

First, I'll tell you why I like it, then I'll tell you why I won't keep it.

Why do I like HBO Max? Quite simply, it has good content. That's really the only reason to subscribe to any service, and HBO Max is definitely one to consider. While not all of the movies are my taste -- I'm not in the target audience for most theatrical releases -- the service has a lot of hit movies available. And TV shows. Don't forget the HBO shows.

There are Academy Award winning films from the early years (Grand Hotel, The Great Ziegfeld, Casablanca) to 21st century Best Picture winners (Argo, No Country for Old Men). There are plenty of movies from the history of cinema, from the 1902 Georges Méliès classic Le Voyage dans la Lune/A Trip to the Moon to this week's theatrical release The Fallout.

HBO Max has popular and award winning TV series such as South Park, Sesame Street, Westworld, Game of Thrones. and Lovecraft Country, among many many others.

A feature of HBO Max I really like is the Hubs. There are hubs for HBO content, HBO Max original content, DC comics content, TCM (Turner Classic Movies), [adult swim], Cartoon Network, Sesame Street, and Looney Tunes. Some of those really appeal to me, and being able to find them in one place is a nice feature.

What I don't like about HBO Max is the fact that I can't turn auto-play off. When an episode of a TV show is done, I may not want to watch the next episode. I may not even want it to start playing. I want auto-play to be off. To be fair, on some devices, it can be turned off.

Autoplay can be turned off on Cox devices, LG TV, VIZIO TV, XClass TV, Samsung TV, and Xfinity devices. 

Other devices: Autoplay can't be turned off. If you don't want to watch the next episode, pause or stop playback before the next episode begins. Stay tuned as we add this functionality to more devices.

I'll be happier when they roll it out to devices that I use.

If you were to decide to have only a single streaming service, HBO Max is a great choice. Could it replace Netflix? Sure. Keep in mind that most of the content on HBO Max can only be seen on HBO Max. You won't find the content on Netflix, or at least, not for long. It's owned by Warner Media, and the Warner Bros. catalog of movies and TV is huge. They'll be keeping their content in-house for the most part, and you'll only be able to see the content on HBO Max. So yes, it certainly can replace Netflix, if you so choose.

And that gets me to why I won't be keeping the service. Oh, it's a good service. It's a great service. But, no service has everything. Yes, you can get everything, but you have to subscribe to everything to get it. Here's the secret: you can, and you can affordably.

If you're a Netflix subscriber, you can drop your subscription any time you like. You can replace it with HBO Max. And, when you want to go back to Netlfix after a month or more, you can. Drop HBO Max and resubscribe to Netflix. Or a different service.

Look at it this way. You can subscribe to Netflix for two months, and it will cost you $31. You can subscribe to HBO Max for two months, and it will cost you $30. That's $61 for two months. Or, you can subscribe to Netflix for one month, then HBO Max the next, and that's $30.50. Half the cost for two months. Watch one service one month and the other service another month. Over the two months, you have plenty to watch, the same amount of content actually, over the 60 days. You get one service at a time, and pay for once service at a time. You can watch the same content during those 60 days for half the cost.

So, I'm not going to keep HBO Max when the subscription ends. Not because I don't like it, but because I'm going to use another service for a month. I've done Netflix recently, and now HBO Max, but I'm not sure what next month will bring. I'll use something, though. I don't like the idea of subscribing to multiple services at the same time, because I can't watch them all to make it worthwhile. But, I can watch one this month and another next month, and so on. That would be cost effective. And entertaining. I'll have HBO Max back in my Streaming Life again.

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