I've seen a lot of nifty sports preview apps to review for this blog. NBC Olympics Live Extra is almost one of them. Since it's free, it's hard to argue with the quality. Since the Olympics only happen every two years, it will be a while before they improve it. If at all. Three stars.
The best thing I can say about NBC Olympics Live Extra is that it's free and I couldn't find any hidden charges on the back end. The bad news is that I can't really preview it until the Olympics start later this week. You can watch clips of past Olympics, not to mention lots of commercials and promos shots. But no events.
You also have to have a cable or dish account to enjoy the live events. I suppose that means there are hidden charges, but you should already be paying them whether you use the app or not. You have to log into your cable account from the app, and if you haven't created a web id for your account, you need to create one at the NBC Olympics site.
You can watch events live on your iPad. Why would you want to do that? The only reason I could think of is because you want to watch at work and you need to be able to shut the drawer with your iPad inside when your boss walks in. Other than that, I would watch the Olympics on your TV even if it's not HD.
Unless you only have a fifteen inch TV or smaller. Then it will probably look better on your iPad. Unless you have a new MacBook Pro with the Retina display. The quality on that might be better than some TVs. On the other hand, HDTVs are almost as cheap as the nineteen inch TVs were when I was in college. So this might be a good time to spring for one of those if you can scrape a couple of hundred bucks together.
What NBC Olympics Live Extra does let you do is keep track of events on your iPad and set alerts for when your favorite events will air. You can even tag entire events. For instance I was going to tag men's soccer so I could follow the US team….Oh wait. They didn't qualify.
Where is David Beckham when you need him?
Of course, if you have cable you can also search for events and set them to prerecord so you don't have to wake up at three in the morning to watch. And you can fast forward through the commercials.
Finding your event in the schedule is tedious because the listings are tedious. You have to scroll way off the screen and the listing are monochromatic in the extreme.
In addition, the app is poorly designed. You can only view the app in portrait mode, but you have to scroll horizontally through long lists of events to find them. Nor are the events color coded, or even colored differently every other row to make them easy to scan. All listings are in white text on a gray background, which makes them difficult and visually boring to follow.
I looked for a settings menu to see if I could change the text or background color, but found none. Even the login window is hard to find. What I did notice, however, is that the app is powered by Flash. Which means, as iPad users know, it isn't really designed to run optimally on iPads.
This might be something for Apple to keep in mind now that Steve has moved on. The app might really shine if it were allowed to run in its development environment rather than having to be ported over from Flash.
I really expected better from NBC. There is nothing really wrong with the app, but nothing to brag about either. Compared to apps released by MLB and the NFL, NBC Olympics Live Extra is surprisingly pedestrian. If I had to pay for it, I wouldn't bother, but since it's free I'm sure I can get some use for it during the games.
The video clips I've seen follow commercials and are displayed with banner ads always visible. The clips are also grainy and pixelated (probably for small window web display). I hope the live events don't look this bad (although I'll probably be watching on HDTV anyway).
Hopefully they'll spend the money to release a first rate app for the 2014 winter events. Even though it's free, it's loaded with advertising. And if I have to sit through banners and displays, I would like to see something I might enjoy just as much as my TV.
Jenny Manytoes rates NBC Olympics Live Extra
Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to NBC Olympics Live Extra. This might be an app you would introduce to your parents to get them to quite bugging you about settling down, but I wouldn't keep her on speed dial.
The Jenny Manytoes Rating System