Streaming TV and Movies over 3G or Wi-Fi to your phone is without a doubt one of the cooler capabilities of a modern smart-phone. There are several well known applications for Windows Phones that provide this functionality through different methods. Netflix connects to the popular subscription service and streams video to your device while Sling Player streams video directly from your home TV connection.
A less well-known service that offers a Windows Phone application is BitBop. As an up-and-coming competitor to Hulu Plus BitBop offers streaming and downloadable content to your smart-phone. Our review of BitBop is after the jump.
BitBop follows a model similar to many content providers these days. The application for Windows Phone 7 is completely free to download, but to use it you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $9.99 for the associated service. A full list of the programs offered by BitBop is available at their site, but they have their bases pretty well covered. Unlike Netflix, BitBop is focused primarily on current TV Shows/Episodes, so don’t count on being able to watch the full season of your sitcom year around.
It’s hard to recommend BitBop as a service because they don’t offer enough content to be on a level playing field with Hulu Plus or Netflix, but their service cost is greater. On the flip side, Hulu Plus isn’t available for Windows Phone 7 at this point, and Netflix doesn’t offer TV episodes from the current season of programming.
The BitBop application for Windows Phone 7 has some real high and low points. Video playback is high quality, and you can skip through segments of the show with relative ease. My favorite feature of the application is the ability to download episodes to your device using a Wi-Fi connection and then play it back later when your data speeds aren’t so hot. Obviously this process requires some free storage on your device, and the application must remain open in order to maintain the download, but you don’t have any buffering issues during playback.
On a less positive note, there are some quirks in the navigation within BitBop. In the process of finding your way through the various pieces of the application, you find yourself switching between the Metro UI and a simple list of links. While this isn’t an inherent issue, the navigation is simply inconsistent and leads to confusion. Additionally, when tapping on a video there is often a delay before anything happens, leading me to tap several times before any feedback occurs.
At this early stage, BitBop is one of the better options for premium video streaming on Windows Phone 7. I’d really like to see some things cleaned up within the application, and dropping a couple of dollars off of the monthly service certainly wouldn’t hurt. Even a tiered pricing model allowing me to watch a subset of the available content would be welcome. If the $9.99 price point sounds right to you or you’re desperate enough to pay it anyway, head on over to the Marketplace to get your copy of the app. BitBop offers a limited trial of the service through their website.