Friday, November 5, 2010

PLDT WatchPad Review

PLDT WatchPad is a live television streaming software exclusive for PLDT myDSL users. It offers 16 television channels, namely CNN, Cartoon Network, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, CNBC, Bloomberg, Channel [V], Biography Channel, Crime and Investigation Network, Pinoy Box Office, Living Asia, Trinity Broadcasting Network plus online-only channels such as Animax Mobile, Shakey's V-League, Splash and Go.

There are also other programs available for viewing: independent films such as Brillante Mendoza's Kinatay and short films from GMA Artist Center. Finally, PLDT WatchPad has attracted much attention because of its free live uninterrupted broadcasts of Manny Pacquiao's boxing fights.

I tested WatchPad when it was first introduced a few years ago, back then only a few channels were available and buffering the video took a long time. But it seems there have been numerous improvements since that time. Even if I'm only subscribed to PLDT Plan 1299 with speeds of up to 512Kbps, buffering the streams only took a little more than a minute. Video quality was not bad at all and certainly watchable, the only problem was that you cannot maximize the video to fill the entire screen.

Content wise, there is a good number of channels available, however most of these are available on the basic packages of cable or satellite providers. The only channel I'm interested in watching is Crime and Investigation since it requires an additional 50 pesos per month on SkyCable. Still, if you're not a big TV fan and just want to watch the occasional news, business or documentary channels, WatchPad is perfect and should save you from coughing up extra for a cable subscription.

PLDT myDSL users get WatchPad which has 16 live TV channels + independent and short films. Meanwhile, SkyBroadband and bayanDSL users get iWantv, which also has live TV channels in the form of ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN News Channel, MYX Music Channel, DZMM TeleRadyo and Al-Jazeera News Channel.

WatchPad definitely has more channels and better variety and content. However, iWantv also has video-on-demand where you can watch episodes of your favorite shows from ABS-CBN like TV Patrol and ASAP, Studio 23 shows such as Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy plus UAAP and NCAA games and Nickelodeon shows such as Spongebob.

In my book, iWantv is a better deal than WatchPad, except for the Manny Pacquiao fights, the latter offers content that is already available on basic cable subscriptions. The only ones who'll benefit from WatchPad are those who aren't subscribed to any cable service. On the other hand, iWantv is best for fans of local programs and teleseryes since you can catch up on episodes you've missed. Non-SkyCable subscribers also benefit because they'll be able to watch exclusive channels such as ANC, MYX and DZMM.

It's great news that our local internet providers are offering these value-added services. There's definitely room for improvement such as more international channels for WatchPad. Still, I'm very happy with the service and hopefully, I'll be able to catch the Pacquiao fight on WatchPad a week from now.

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