By Damon Kiesow
Reviewing: NBC Olympics Live Extra
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Tested on: iPhone 4G / iPad 3
Should you get it? Maybe, if you are a cable TV subscriber.
As stories of #NBCFail bounce around Twitter, it is fair to point out that the broadcaster is at least trying to provide comprehensive live coverage of the Olympics.
The good news: if you want to watch the "Men's Skeet Final" live on your tablet or smartphone, you can with the NBC Olympics Live Extra app. In fact, this morning I counted 20 different live streams available on my iPad - from basketball to volleyball and everything in-between.
The bad news: First, you have to be a cable or satellite TV subscriber and know your username/password. For broadcast TV watchers, that is a non-starter, and for paid customers it is an annoyance, but not a major one.
Second, the videos usually work, but the app itself is a bit confusing. After using it over the opening weekend of the Games, a few things still bother me:
1. The app is just not up to the task of making sense of the sheer volume of countries, sports, and matches available on a daily basis. Browsing the current live streams is easy enough, but digging into the schedule for future events is a time waster.
2. The app allows the viewer to select "favorite" sports to help reduce the clutter. But you can't filter for individual countries. So it might offer up volleyball, but it won't know that "Poland vs. Bulgaria" is probably not a highlight I plan to watch.
3. Navigating through the app works in portrait orientation only. But watching videos is more natural in landscape, so you have to keep switching back and forth. Again, it is only a minor irritation, but that is a design decision that could have been handled more elegantly.
4. I am fine with advertisements in the app - it is mostly free, after all. But as you click through the live streams looking for an event, a 30 second "pre-roll" ad seems to load. Every. Single. Time.
Are any of those complaints reason not to use that app? Not really; it does deliver on the basic promise of live Olympics coverage. But with a few improvements, the experience could be better. Here's looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.