December 28, 2011
I love documentaries. I’m always the first to drag my friends to the local independent theater to see the latest documentary – if it’s available. But a lot of times it’s not. And what’s more, my ride to work on the subway could use some livening up.
So I was excited to give SnagFilms a whirl on my Android tablet. SnagFilms, founded by internet pioneer Ted Leonsis, is a service that helps you watch tons of documentaries and independent films for free. SnagFilms has been around for a couple of years. But recently, they’ve released their most popular titles in their acclaimed independent film library via free-streaming apps on Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Android-based smartphones, and a broad range of tablets using the Android and Blackberry Playbook Tablet platforms. That means that the SnagFilms app is now available on more than 50 smartphone models and 10 seven-inch and ten-inch tablet types. In addition to the Kindle Fire and the Blackberry Playbook, tablets include the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and HTC Flyer.
I downloaded the app and immediately found a good selection of films that I was interested in seeing. I decided to check out “Prom Night in Mississippi” first. I was busy working, so pulling it up on my tablet helped me multitask. After seeing a very short commercial, the film began, and I only had to see one commercial in the middle.
I was able to watch it in relatively good quality with no buffering issues throughout. On my tablet, there was some lag with the audio, but that may just be my tablet.
I did pick up on a few quirks of the app: after browsing around a bit, the navigation stopped working, and I had to kill the app from the Android settings widget before I could get it working again. Also, it would be nice to have the ability to sort films, like the site has. Another thing missing with the app that’s there with the site: the ability to learn more and support causes or issues that are raised by certain films.
In my work, I test a lot of new apps and companies, and while there are many good ideas, I very rarely come across apps that I want to keep bookmarked on my mobile devices. But with its selection of interesting films, and its ease of use, SnagFilms’s new app is definitely one I’ll hang onto. In a world of mobile platform fragmentation, the fact that SnagFilm is now available on 95% of the tablets currently sold in the US is all the more reason to download it.
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