If a genie were to pop out of nowhere and grants me three wishes, one of those would be for a job where my sole task is to watch movies and series’ of various genres all day and still receive a justifiable amount of compensation. As if on cue, I was asked to review the video-on-demand service HOOQ, SEA’s answer to Netflix. So it appears, the wish was partially granted–there was neither a genie nor mystical elements involved, though.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, allow us to enlighten you about Video on Demand (VOD), the newest internet TV service that could permanently sever civilization’s ties with cable television. VOD simply stands for Video-on-Demand. It is a service that allows you to select, stream or download, and watch the content you want, when you want, instead of waiting for its broadcast time.
This is also the concept behind HOOQ. The app is simple and straightforward. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app on your device, upon start-up you’ll be prompted to sign up or, if you’re already registered to the service, log in. Signing up is as simple as registering to a social networking site—enter your personal details and you’re all set. The next step is choosing a payment method. Access to a diverse selection of top shows, movies, and whatnot comes with a ticket price that shouldn’t bother even the most frugal. You can either charge your HOOQmonthly subscription of PHP 149 to your credit card, Globe or TM number, or apply your GoSurf/Tattoo bundle activation code. The last step is to verify your account via the e-mail address you provided. After breezing through each step, you can now go back to the app and begin binge-watching on the fly!
Along with a voucher code that would allow me access to the service for 30 days, HOOQ even lent a Samsung tablet and a portable Tattoo Wi-Fi to complete the experience. To stream your chosen content, you’d have to be connected to a cellular or Wi-Fi network. Starting the stream depends on internet speed–using the pocket Wi-Fi device gave the app an average start-up of around 10 to 20 seconds whilst connection to a network with a higher bandwidth will have the app up and running in a blink of an eye.
HOOQ’s catalog of movies and shows gives you over 30,000 hours of international and local content to consume. With this overwhelming amount of good stuff, you’d ask, where do I begin? To start you off, Discover organizes content posters in categories such as the newest arrivals, what’s popular in Hollywood, what’s popular in the country, everything on TV, everything on the big screen, and niche interests, namely Against All Odds, Kicks and Thrills, For Laughs, Date Night, Family and Kids, Nail Biters, Foreign, and Sizzlers.
If you’ve got a particular artist, movie, or show in mind, you can tap the menu bar on the top left of the home screen where you would see a search toolbar to type in your preferred title. Under the menu bar, you will also see My Library, shows content you recently viewed and titles you’ve downloaded—up to 5 titles you can stream offline; All Movies, shows the service’ whole movie catalog; All TV, features every show on the service; and Settings, for updating your information and tweaking the service to better please you.
After deciding on a title, tap the poster and you’ll see a synopsis, rating, a drop-down menu of seasons and list of episodes for TV shows, a Facebook share button, similar titles, and a play and download—a function not available for some items—button.
When you download a title, you have the option of selecting your preferred video quality—high, medium, and low. Meanwhile, viewing controls when streaming online will pop up when you tap anywhere on the screen. Doing this brings up controls for choosing subtitles, audio track, and video quality. Random tapping of interface controls resulted in delayed response in rare occasions, but that’s really not something you’re going to do, with normal use, it should work without a hitch.
I could say that the app works best when you are connected to a fast and reliable Wi-Fi or cellular signal. With intermittent internet following me wherever I go, I gave up and tried hooking up the device to our office internet. This made for a well-optimized streaming experience. The solid connection allowed the best video quality, and minimized buffering times. On the downside, a weak signal can cause feed errors and lower video quality. HOOQ can’t be blamed here though; it’s the country’s network infrastructures that need a long due upgrade.
If you decide to go back to content you’ve already started and left halfway through, you’ll be glad to know that you can begin where you left off. But you could always re-watch the whole thing.
For foreign content: Anime, Bollywood, and Korean shows, a few of each are conveniently dubbed in English (Anime in particular), there are also titles subbed in english. Unfortunately, while navigating through foreign selections, I found a few without any English translation options; which might be a problem to those who don’t speak the language.
Why should you get HOOQ’ed?
At present, Hooq’s catalog of movies is solid. It somehow lacks in the TV show department but at the rate the company’s going, soon enough we will be seeing more high-profile international shows come in the service. If you’re still not onboard, know that HOOQ’s local content is aplenty; you can also enjoy unlimited entertainment in up to five devices with a single account, stream on two devices simultaneously, and download up to five titles for offline streaming. Plus, Hooq’s fast-growing library of content changes up all the time; you’ll never tire and run out of movies and shows to satisfy the entertainment-junkie in you. Now, you’ve got all the right reasons to be HOOQ’ed!