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    HBO Max review: 10,000 hours of great TV and movies but still incomplete

    HBO Max, HBO’s entry into the streaming wars, is a slick app chock-full of well-liked TV exhibits and flicks. It’s bought HBO’s whole catalog, together with favorites corresponding to Friends, Rick and Morty, the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films, and nearly each Studio Ghibli movie — making it a strong streaming assortment for adults and kids, with the flexibility to manage scores on children’ profiles higher than most different companies. 

    LikeLarge, assorted content material catalog for a similar value as HBO NowEasy, easy-to-navigate interfaceLarge youngsters’s catalog and customizable ranking settingsAbility to see what films and exhibits are coming and going

    Don’t LikeHigh valueNot but out there on Roku or Amazon Fire TVNo 4K HDRCan’t import watch historical past or personalised suggestions

    If you already subscribe to HBO or the HBO Now streaming service (or, let’s be actual, mooch off another person’s account), HBO Max is a superb improve that offers you a pleasant new interface and masses extra content material for a similar $14.99 a month. But in case you’re a brand-new subscriber, that value is on the excessive finish — particularly in case you already pay for Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus or all the above.Read extra: Everything it’s worthwhile to learn about HBO Max

    At launch, HBO Max nonetheless lacks compatibility with the favored Roku and Amazon Fire TV gadgets and 4K HDR streaming, each of which can be found on the competitors. And other than HBO’s unique sequence its slate of exclusives is comparatively skinny at launch, particularly with the delay of the extremely anticipated Friends reunion particular and no breakout hit like Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda. All of these shortcomings will probably change over time (possibly quickly), however at launch they’re huge disadvantages.If you are a giant fan of HBO, Elmo or Friends, or are merely operating out of fine stuff to look at throughout lockdown, HBO Max is certainly value your cash. But till it grows up slightly the latest streaming service falls wanting the robust competitors.Streaming in contrast

    HBO Max

    Netflix

    Disney Plus

    Hulu

    Monthly value

    $14.99

    Starts at $8.99

    $6.99

    Basic $5.99 with adverts, Ad-free for $11.99, Live TV for $55

    Ads

    No

    No

    No

    Yes, with primary tier

    Availability

    Now

    Now

    Now

    Now

    Top titles

    Entire HBO catalog, Studio Ghibli movies, DC movies

    Stranger Things, The Office, Breaking Bad, 13 Reasons Why

    The Mandalorian, Avengers Endgame, Toy Story, The Simpsons

    Handmaid’s Tale, Catch-22, Lost, Bob’s Burgers

    Mobile downloads

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes (on Ad-free plan solely)

    4K out there

    No

    Yes (on Premium plan)

    Yes

    Yes

    HDR out there

    No

    Yes (on Premium plan)

    Yes

    No

    Number of streams

    3

    1 (2 for Standard, 4 on Premium)

    4

    2 (Unlimited with Live TV and a $10 add-on)

    A excessive value ripe for sharingHBO Max prices $14.99 a month (until you took benefit of a preorder deal for $11.99 a month for the primary 12 months) — the identical as HBO Now and HBO’s conventional channel if you get it via most pay-TV suppliers. At some level inside its first 12 months of operation, the service will broaden to incorporate one other tier that features promoting. We do not know something about when that will occur or what it could appear like, however it could probably be cheaper, and even free. 

    Some individuals who have already got a daily HBO subscription or HBO Now will get Max for no further price — however not everybody. It’s complicated, however you may try our full HBO Max FAQ for extra info on the way it all works.HBO Max just isn’t but out there on Roku or Amazon Fire TV gadgets.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    Despite the big catalog of films and exhibits, HBO Max is on the costly finish of streaming companies — Netflix’s primary plan prices $8.99 a month, Hulu’s plan with adverts is $5.99 a month and Disney Plus prices $6.99 a month. Of course, a number of individuals I do know snag their HBO Go or Now entry from pals or relations. HBO Max government Tony Goncalves instructed CNET that its method will stay the identical — you may have as much as three simultaneous streams going on the similar time. Plus, the addition of as much as 5 consumer profiles, a function not out there on the HBO Now or HBO Go apps, makes it simpler to share an account. HBO Max is accessible on Apple gadgets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV). It’s additionally on gear that runs Google’s Android working system for telephones and tablets, in addition to Android TV gadgets, Chromebooks, Google Chromecast and Chromecast built-in gadgets like Vizio TVs. The Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and up to date Samsung sensible TVs are additionally on-board. It’s nonetheless not out there, nonetheless, on Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV merchandise, which prices the service some factors — Roku is the most well-liked streaming gadget within the US. A powerful secure of exhibits and moviesHBO Max’s greatest energy is its massive, assorted TV and film catalog, with content material for adults and youngsters. At launch, it has 10,000 hours of content material to stream, together with the whole lot on HBO, plus a collection of high-profile TV exhibits like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty and South Park. HBO Max at the moment has six Max Originals and the most important might be the romantic sequence Love Life, starring Anna Kendrick. At first watch they’re… wonderful. Who does not love Elmo? But nothing caught out, and I discovered myself wanting ahead to summer time, when extra originals are scheduled to roll out. The service is on monitor to have 31 originals in its first 12 months and 60 in its second, in line with HBO. And in contrast to Netflix, it’s going to usually drop its originals as soon as per week, the best way common cable HBO does. HBO Max has six unique sequence at launch — however the extremely anticipated Friends reunion particular has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    In the meantime there’s a number of films, some new and plenty of older. HBO Max has the complete units of The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogies (although solely two of The Hobbits), DC films like Joker and Wonder Woman, traditional movies like The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca, and newer hits like A Star is Born and Crazy Rich Asians. Not to say nearly your complete catalog of Studio Ghibli anime movies which have by no means been launched for streaming within the US earlier than. And in case you’ve been clamoring for extra of 2017’s Justice League, HBO Max would be the house of director Zach Snyder’s reduce, since he stepped down in the midst of the movie’s manufacturing.Though HBO is understood for its grownup content material, Max has so much to supply children too, together with new Looney Tunes cartoons and Sesame Street episodes, and the Cartoon Network catalog. It’s additionally house to Doctor Who and the Lego films. Parental controls are strong. You can customise children’ profiles to resolve which ranking ranges they’ll entry, and create a passcode that locks them into their account, to allow them to’t soar over to their dad and mom’ to look at something inappropriate. (Of course, your child could be savvy sufficient to determine that passcode out, nevertheless it’s one thing.)Studio Ghibli movies can be found to stream within the US for the primary time on the platform.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    A visually interesting interface…Scrolling via HBO Max is just like the expertise on Netflix, Hulu and different streaming companies. When you open your profile, you will discover Continue Watching and My List on the prime of the web page, adopted by subjects like Featured Series, Featured Movies and HBO Series: Editors’ Picks. I just like the look of the menus higher than many different streaming companies. It has a darkish purple and black theme that permits the textual content and pictures to pop, and exhibits fewer tiles on the display directly with extra breaks between them, to present your eye a relaxation. One draw back, nonetheless, is that it may be robust to determine at first what textual content is highlighted within the menus so you can also make choices.In the center of the web page you will see a mini-hub the place you may entry films and exhibits from every of its properties: HBO, DC, Sesame Workshop, Turner Classic Movies, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, CrunchyRoll and Looney Tunes. It seems form of like Disney Plus’s hub on the prime of its web page, however with much less acquainted names than Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel. The HBO Max mini-hub, the place you may entry content material from completely different networks and studios.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    You’ll additionally discover curated collections of films round a theme sprinkled via your homepage, like rom-com favorites and blockbuster franchises. Hit Browse on the prime left nook and you will have the choice to go looking by classes corresponding to Series, Movies, Originals, Just Added, Last Chance and Coming Soon, together with genres like Action, Comedy, Crime and Documentaries. You’ll additionally discover the mini-hubs on this panel, too. Unlike on Netflix, you may see what’s coming and happening the platform and watch accordingly. Mobile downloads are additionally out there, and the app’s format is essentially the identical throughout TVs, telephones and tablets. When it involves looking out, HBO Max allows you to use abbreviations (like “GOT” as a substitute of “Game of Thrones”). On my Apple TV, voice search labored fairly nicely — once I stated “Watch Rick and Morty,” HBO Max opened the sequence touchdown web page, giving me the choice to decide on which episode I would like. After beginning an episode of Game of Thrones and shutting out, once I stated “Watch GOT,” it jumped me again into the episode the place I had left off. When I stated “Watch Jaws,” the Apple TV opened all the completely different choices throughout different streaming platforms on the backside of the display as nicely. Selecting a present will take you to its touchdown web page, the place you will discover each episode out there in a pleasant clear format, and have the flexibility so as to add it to your record. When you begin a present, the ranking seems within the higher left nook. One draw back: Unlike on Netflix, there is no “skip intro” button. So if, for instance, you are binge-watching Friends, you are going to hear that theme track so much, until you manually fast-forward via it….however 4K HDR and human suggestions are nonetheless MIAOne of HBO Max’s guarantees was that as a substitute of solely utilizing a suggestion engine to floor new content material for customers, it could even have curated content material from celebrities, to convey a extra human contact. These suggestions will not be out there at launch, nonetheless. It does curate content material in methods that may be useful — for instance, highlighting the episodes of Friends that monitor Ross and Rachel’s relationship so you do not have to go digging for them. You’ll discover each HBO present on HBO Max — however you may’t but stream them in 4K HDR. 
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    Another main destructive: HBO Max doesn’t assist 4K HDR video or Dolby Atmos at launch, although HBO’s catalog of exhibits alone would actually profit from the higher-quality streaming (all of us bear in mind how darkish these Game of Thrones episodes had been). For now, HBO Max has the identical video and audio high quality as HBO Now, HBO Go and the HBO TV channel — HD (1080p) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. It seems fairly good, however it will possibly’t compete with 4K HDR. Should you get HBO Max?If you already subscribe to HBO Now (or, you understand, have another person’s login), the automated free improve to HBO Now is a no brainer — it is tons extra content material for a similar month-to-month value. Plus, you can also make your personal profiles now, which you could not do on HBO Go or HBO Now. You can strive it out without spending a dime for seven days. For brand-new subscribers, HBO Max is on the expensive finish of the streaming service spectrum. But you probably have $14.99 a month to burn and wish to binge Friends, Game of Thrones or all the Studio Ghibli films, you will have so much to select from. 
    Here’s what HBO Max seems like on TVs, telephones and tablets
    See all pictures

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