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Maybe you're travelling, long distance or commuter, and you want to take some of your cable lineup with you. Perhaps you're simply looking to have a "second screen" to watch when the main TV is taken. Whatever the reason, your Android device can become the perfect way to bring cable TV wherever you want to go.
1. Time Warner Cable TV (TWC TV)
If Time Warner is your cable provider, there's absolutely no reason not to check out the Android ICS app. There's a wide range of some of the best channels in the lineup, not all, but definitely the cream of the crop. TWC also throws in the usual cable TV app features (channel guide, DVR control, etc), which are available for all Android versions. However, the limitations of TWC TV include Wi-Fi only connection (which is great for your data plan but less useful for travelers) and ICS-only (any less than Android 4.0 won't do it).
2. HBO Go/MAX Go
Granted, these are technically separate apps, but both are provided by the same developers and the same parent company, so they're nearly identical in every way. Well, except for the movies and shows that each individual app provides; but in both cases, it's EVERY movie and show, not selected ones. The sole requirement is that you have subscribed to either or both via your cable provider (although having a high speed data plan or fast Wi-Fi connection certainly helps). An additional bonus is the integration of social media sharing, which gives you some of the same Facebook/Twitter functionality of an app like Tunefish or Fanwave (although obviously limited to HBO and MAX.
3. AT&T U-Verse Live
In contrast to Time Warner's app, you don't actually need to have AT&T U-Verse as your provider; the subscription to the app is all you need to access many of the fiber TV provider's live channels, plus movies and shows On Demand. Of course, if you are a U-Verse subscriber already, inquire about the possibility of a free subscription. Unfortunately, this otherwise exemplary cable TV app is a little let down by a reliance on specific mobile devices (small wonder most of them are the very devices that AT&T offers) and prefers 3G to Wi-Fi (again, a somewhat sneaky way to boost AT&T customers' data usage).
4. XFINITY TV Player
With a full lineup of On Demand downloads, Comcast joins the aforementioned Time Warner and AT&T as a cable provider's app access to programming. You have a good chance of service from one of these three, but the XFINITY TV Player does lack some of the range and flexibility of the other two. Instead of live TV, you get the opportunity to view and download a decent collection of shows and movies drawn from the Comcast lineup. Still, the On Demand selection includes classics, favorites, and new TV shows alike (not to mention all the movies).
This is kind of a given. If you're willing to pay the monthly subscription (8 bucks, not exactly bank-breaking), you get a vast range of movies, obviously, but also a huge collection of TV shows, old and new; over 50 of them, from "The Wonder Years" to "Mad Men," from "Married... with Children" to "Breaking Bad." And all seasons (typically excluding any that are currently first-run, of course). The subscription lets you stream and download to any device, from your PC to your smartphone or tablet. Simply install the app and enter your info, and your mobile device has access.
There are countless other apps that can give you a satisfying TV experience. In addition to our choice of HBO Go, there are a number of single channel apps (CNN, ESPN, and BBC are all especially high-quality), provider apps (T-Mobile and the rather expensive Verizon TV), and even Google's own Play service, which features a healthy selection of film and TV choices. No matter which way you go, you'll never have to go without your favorite cable TV shows again.
Author Bio: Dwayne Thomas is a staff writer for cabletv.com. He loves writing about technology and entertainment. You can find him on twitter @DwayneThomas15.