HBO Max Review: Devices, Library & Streaming
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In a world where streaming services are rapidly taking over the entertainment industry, HBO Max has emerged as a major player. With a vast library of movies and TV shows, as well as original content and live events, HBO Max has quickly become a popular choice for streaming enthusiasts. But with so many streaming services to choose from, how does HBO Max stack up against the competition?
In this review, we will take a closer look at HBO Max, exploring its features, content offerings, and user experience, to help you determine if it's the right streaming service for you. So, if you're ready to dive into the world of HBO Max, let's get started!
Our favorite streaming service is HBO Max, but that's about to change because Discovery Plus is expected to join it. So, keep an eye on our live blog about the merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus for all the news as it comes out.
What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is the company's most recent move into the streaming world. The service, which comes out in late 2020, combines all the things you love about premium cable networks with hundreds of shows from other channels and a good amount of new, original content. HBO Max replaced the old HBO Go app, but it has a lot of the same features and is going in exciting new ways with its library.
HBO Max isn't cheap, but that shouldn't be a surprise since it has one of the most interesting on-demand libraries. There is a $10/month choice that has ads, but it costs $15/month to get everything it has to offer without ads. There is also no free trial for the site. So, before you sign up, you'll want to make sure it's a good fit. Check out our in-depth HBO Max review to learn everything you need to know about the famous service if you're thinking about signing up for a subscription.
- Library: Over 10,000 hours of shows and movies Price: $9.99 – $19.99 per month
- Devices: Apple TV, Android, iOS, iPadOS, PS4, Xbox One, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku
- Simultaneous streams: Up to 3 at once
- Streaming quality: HD (selected films are available in 4K and HDR)
- Parental controls: Yes
- User profiles: up to 5
Sad to say, the price of HBO Max just went up. The ad-free version now costs $1 more per month, going from $14.99 to $15.99. Still, we think a lot of people will stick around now that we know when season 4 will come out.
At first view, HBO Max looks like it has enough content to beat out Netflix and Disney Plus and become one of the best streaming services. We think it's the best, in fact.
Since we like HBO Max so much, we also gave some tips to its rival. HBO Max is better than Netflix.
With the upcoming merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus, it looks like HBO Max will soon be shut down and combined into a new mega streaming service. A new story, however, says that Discovery Plus might survive the merger and keep going as a separate service.
Also, live shows are coming to HBO Max, which is good news. For example, on HBO Max, you can watch live streams of USWNT.
HBO Max is one of the newest streaming services, but it already has a lot to offer, like all of HBO's best shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and The Wire. Also, the service has its own originals, like American Pickle and The Flight Attendant. HBO Max costs at least $10 a month, but HBO Max without ads costs $15.99 a month right now. Many (if not all) people who already pay for HBO also get HBO Max. Also, HBO Now is no longer available on any device, and its app is now called HBO Max.
To use the service, you need to download the HBO Max app and sign in with your current HBO or TV provider login information.
One HBO Max subscription lets you stream up to three things at once, which is one less than Disney Plus, which lets you watch four things at once. Depending on the deal you buy from Netflix, you can watch one show at a time for $9, two shows at $15.49, or four shows at $20.
HBO Max is only available in the U.S., but there are plans to bring it to other countries. Netflix and Disney Plus, on the other hand, are available everywhere.
HBO Max Compared to Other Services
HBO Max stands out as one of the best streaming services for the price among the ones mentioned. The version without ads costs $15 per month, which is almost twice as much as Hulu. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, because the service has the same number of movies and shows as the other ones listed, and it costs about the same as a regular HBO subscription (yes, if you have HBO, you already have HBO Max), even though it basically takes the place of HBO. Also, you can only make up to five user profiles with the service, which is not as many as the six or seven profiles you can make with Hulu or Disney+, respectively.
Also, it's important to note that even though HBO Max is a bit pricey for an on-demand service, it's much cheaper than any live TV service. A basic membership to both Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV costs $65/month, which is more than six times more than an ad-supported version of HBO Max.
If you don't mind ads, you can get HBO Max for a monthly fee that's very close to what you'd pay for other major platforms. Its lack of live shows is obvious, but the shows and movies that are only on HBO should more than make up for that.
At first, this was our biggest problem with HBO Max, but it was fixed. HBO Max has apps for Android, Apple TV, iOS, iPadOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Chromecast, but that's not the whole list. That didn't include Roku or Fire TV, which are the two biggest platforms for streaming movies.
The new HBO Max app bug is affecting iPhones and iPads right now, so you might want to stick with bigger screens and Androids for now.
Luckily, that fight finished in December 2020, just in time for the release of Wonder Woman 1984 on streaming services and in theaters in the United States on the same day. HBO Max can now be watched on a wide enough range of devices that we can stop complaining.
HBO Max Movies
The fact that HBO Max will have major hit movies in 2021 (starting with Wonder Woman 1984 at the end of 2020) may be the most important news about the service. Matrix 4, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, and many more movies came to HBO Max, and they were all in 4K HDR.
Unfortunately, it looks like HBO Max users are about to lose their good luck. Warner Bros. had said before that all original movies from 2022 would be on HBO Max 45 days after they came out in theaters, but the Warner Bros. Discovery merger has changed that. The latest theories say that it's no longer a given that new movies will be added to the service, at least not right away.
The HBO Max streaming library is the most impressive I've seen, but it also makes me the most confused. On the other hand, House of the Dragon, the predecessor to Game of Thrones, is a winner. And the final episode of “House of the Dragon” gave us the fireworks we'd been waiting for all season. Yes, we're already looking forward to the second season of House of the Dragon.
Then they just started removing and deleting titles left and right, starting with HBO Max movies, then HBO Max shows, and now two HBO shows: Westworld and The Nevers.
Outside of new releases, HBO Max's material is made up of HBO's own shows and the Warner Bros. Studios film archive. Many of the Warner Bros. films were already on HBO, like the Harry Potter movies, but they come and go whenever they want. On top of that, you can choose from movies in the DCEU and large groups of movies from Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection.
HBO says that there are more than 10,000 hours of material in the library of HBO Max. Netflix doesn't say how many hours are in its library, but it's thought to be about 36,000.
Classic Japanese cartoon movies from Studio Ghibli, on the other hand, are what I care about more. My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Spirited Away have never been offered on a U.S. streaming service before. They are all must-see movies that you can watch again and again. But even the Ghibli collection is missing one: Grave of the Fireflies by Isao Takahata, which came out in 1988, is not there. You can watch it now on Hulu. Some of our favorite HBO Max Originals are Station Eleven, Minx (which has since been canceled), and the Harley Quinn shows. The reboot of Gossip Girl on HBO Max has been canceled.
Design and Interface
HBO Max has more than 10,000 hours of movies and TV shows, but it can be hard to find what you want because the choices and screens aren't very helpful. Its home screen shows a carousel of seven shows and movies that are being pushed. Below the “Continue Watching” and “My List” parts, which didn't work right when Disney Plus first came out, you can find more general ads for movies, TV shows, and Max Originals. After that, you'll see a row for “Editor's Picks” of HBO shows and a row for “Harry Potter.”
Then, 9 hub buttons show you how big HBO Max can get. From here, you can go to HBO, DC, Cartoon Network, Sesame Workshop, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies, Crunchyroll (anime), Studio Ghibli, and Looney Tunes. The Criterion Collection is missing from this list. It already has a paid service (Criterion Channel) that it might not want to hurt by letting HBO Max feature its vault.
Highlight buddy comedies, movies and shows that are good for the whole family, and puzzles are in the next rows. Even a fight called “The Continued Fight for Civil Rights” is very important right now, when the Black Lives Matter movement needs as much help as it can get. There is a row for LGBTQ+ content, followed by rows for musicals, fantasy, true crime, and blockbusters.
On the left side of the screen, there is a menu with sections for Just Added, Last Chance, and Coming Soon, as well as Series, Movies, and Originals.
Right now, what HBO Max needs most is better direction from editors. It seems so obvious to have a row for the best movies on HBO Max that pulls titles from all of its channels that I'm surprised it's not already there.
Curation is also missing from HBO Max's TV shows, like Friends, Rick and Morty, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Doctor Who, and more. The home screen of HBO Max shows that Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of its shows. However, it doesn't give you a list of episodes grouped by category, so the only real choice is to start with episode 1. If, for example, you could find guides to the best star cameos on Friends or have all of the Fresh Prince episodes about Will's relationships, these vaults would feel a lot less scary.
I've only found one list like this. It's in the Comedy area, and it has all of the Rick and Morty episodes that are parodies of movies. In the Drama movies section, the work of director Akira Kurosawa is also highlighted with a row. However, these cool lists of picks shouldn't be hidden on category pages when they could be pushed on the home page.
HBO Max Performance and 4K streaming
Unfortunately, when HBO Max came out, you couldn't watch in 4K. HDR is also not available right now. AT&T's Tony Goncalves says that these functions are in the works. Since 4K and HDR weren't available at start, it seems like the service was rushed out before it was ready.
Starting on December 25, 2020, big movies like Wonder Woman 1984 and others will be available to watch on HBO Max in 4K HDR.
It's like the aspect ratio problem Disney Plus had with The Simpsons, but much worse because it affects a lot more than just one show. Disney Plus, on the other hand, came out on day one with 4K HDR. Netflix has 4K HDR, but it's only for people who pay for the Premium plan, which costs $19.99, which is $4 more than HBO Max.
There are 5 user accounts for HBO Max, and each one is either for an Adult or a Kid. Parents can set limits on what their kids can watch based on the MPAA rating (from G to NC-17) and the TV rating (from TV-Y to TV-MA).
This is a good idea, but the method has a major flaw. A 4-digit PIN number can only be used to lock a child's account. If a kid can turn on HBO Max from anywhere in the house, they can get into parent accounts, which don't have any rules or restrictions on what they can watch, without a password.
Even though I'm not a parent, the fact that there are kid accounts means that parent accounts should be able to be locked with passwords. I can see why people might think that HBO can't stop kids from starting the apps; that must be a job for parents. However, parents can't always know what their kids are doing.
There are no parental settings for Disney Plus, but you can lock parent accounts with Netflix.
Does HBO Max Have Value?
HBO Max isn't cheap, but it's worth it because it has so much material. HBO Max has slowly built one of the best collections of movies, TV shows for kids, and original series you won't find anywhere else.
The premium streaming service HBO Max, on the other hand, will give you access to thousands of hours of pleasure for a price that isn't too bad. It's too bad that there is no free trial for the app, but most people will get a lot out of an HBO Max subscription. Overall, we think the $15/month registration fee is worth it, especially if you don't already have HBO through your cable company.
As this review of HBO Max shows, there isn't a single part of HBO Max that feels done. It has a good library, but there are some problems.
People liked HBO Max because it went beyond the HBO archives and added high-quality names like Studio Ghibli and the Criterion Collection. But now that it's taking shows like Westworld off the air? We are worried.
We just raised HBO Max's score because it keeps adding some of the best new shows, which is one of HBO's core strengths that keeps it strong month after month.