HBO Max Review 2020: Everything you need to know about HBO’s newest service

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What is HBO Max?

HBO Max is a new entry into the busy online video streaming market, providing on-demand access to premium HBO programming, original content, Hollywood hits, and classic movies.

The service launched in May 2020 as a new streaming offering from WarnerMedia Entertainment. It offers an expansive on-demand library from across the WarnerMedia brands, such as CNN, Crunchyroll, DC, Looney Tunes, New Line Cinema, and Warner Bros., as well as the entire back catalog of original HBO content.

HBO Max is the third streaming service launched by HBO. So for anyone looking to compare HBO Max vs. HBO Go or HBO Max vs. HBO Now, the latest service offers more content and comes in at the same price point of $14.99/mo. HBO Go, which comes free with an HBO subscription through a cable or TV provider, and HBO Now, a standalone online streaming service, only offer the channel’s original content. Whereas HBO Max also offers additional movies and TV shows. Existing HBO Go and HBO Now subscribers also get access to HBO Max for free.

This HBO Max review will advise on the content available through the new service and some of the key features that subscribers can expect.

HBO Max plans and pricing

 HBO Max
Monthly price$14.99
Number of TV shows and films345 TV shows and 1,647 films
Offline downloadsYes
Original contentYes
Streaming quality1080p HD
Live streamingNo
Ad-supported contentNo

Between the number of movies and TV shows, offline download capabilities, and streaming quality, HBO Max users have a lot to be satisfied with when choosing this streaming platform. Additionally, the price falls in the middle of competitors, making it an affordable option. Hulu starts as low as $5.99 per month, Sling TV starts as low as $30 per month, and Philo will cost customers $20 per month. 

HBO Max Interface

HBO Max has a simple design that allows users to view and search for content based on type and genre. The name of the show or movie can also be entered into the search field if a user is looking for something in specific. Account management can be done from the app, including updating personal information, setting parental controls, turning notifications on or off. 

The full list of devices that support HBO Max is:

  • Amazon Fire tablets (4th gen and later)
  • Amazon Fire TV (with Fire OS 5.3.6 or later)
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube
  • Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs (Insignia HD, Insignia 4K UHD, Toshiba HD, Toshiba 4K UHD)
  • Android phones and tablets (with Android OS 5+)
  • Android TV (OS 5+)
  • Apple TV (4th gen and later)
  • Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (with iOS 12.2+)
  • Chromebooks
  • Google Chromecast
  • PlayStation 4
  • Samsung TV (2016+)
  • Xbox One
  • Google Chromebooks, Mac, and Windows computer web browsers

Although there are many ways to watch content on HBO Max, it is not compatible with all devices. At this time, HBO Max is not compatible with Roku devices or PlayStation 5. If users who have a Playstation 5 or Roku device wish to watch a show or movie on HBO Max, they will have to consider an alternative, including mirroring their phone, tablet, or computer screen or connecting their computer to their TV using an HDMI connector. 

HBO Max supported devices

HBO Max streaming is available on any mobile or streaming device that supports its apps as well as on desktop browsers for laptop and PC users. This includes popular phones and tablets, game consoles, smart TVs, and streaming set-top boxes and sticks.

What to watch on HBO Max

Popular TV shows to watch on HBO Max

HBO Max streaming is the best place to catch all of HBO’s original award-winning programming in one place. This includes the channel’s hit shows such as fantasy epic Game of Thrones, classic gangster series The Sopranos, Aaron Sorkin’s political thriller West Wing, and gritty Baltimore-based police drama The Wire. Other hit shows from the HBO vaults include comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm, Western drama set in the 1870s in Deadwood, and teen drama Gossip Girl, which stars Blake Lively.

Recent additions to this content roster include Big Little Lies, which stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in a drama about life in idyllic small-town America being shattered by a murder, and Chernobyl, which re-enacts the story of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine. Other newer HBO dramas worth a watch are a parody of startup culture in Silicon Valley, vigilante action based on the Watchmen comic series, and a theme park inhabited by droids in Westworld.

man in cowboy hat and woman in old west period clothing

HBO Max launched with several original new series, such as kids craft show Craftopia, dance and fashion game show Legendary, and an anthology of love stories in Love Life. The service is also the exclusive home to a new collection of Looney Tunes cartoons featuring family-favorite characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Tweety Bird, and a The Muppets-based talk show The Not Too Late Show with Elmo. It also has new original content in production, such as Adventure Time: Distant Lands, season 2 of Doom Patrol, Frayed, Perry Mason, and The Dog House.

This stellar choice of HBO originals is joined by additional shows from AT&T and WarnerMedia libraries. This includes popular comedy series like South Park, Rick and Morty, The Big Bang Theory, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. HBO Max subscribers can also tune into classic sitcom Friends and British crime show Luther. Those looking for light entertainment can enjoy Adam Ruins Everything, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette.

Movies to watch on HBO Max

HBO Max also offers a large library of on-demand movies thanks to its content partnerships with WarnerMedia-owned sources New Line Cinema and Warner Bros., as well as external content houses like Studio Ghibli and The Criterion Channel.

HBO Max has a large movie library capable of fuelling multiple binge-watching sessions. This includes classic movie franchises such as all eight films from the Harry Potter series, as well as the three Lord of the Rings movies and the three The Hobbit prelude films.

Classic Movies

The service is also home to several cult classic films, such as war epic Apocalypse Now, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in the movie based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club, Leonardo di Caprio in the epic Gangs of New York, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin Williams starring in the tale of a genius janitor in Good Will Hunting. Popular movies available on the service also include comedy Bridesmaids, rags to riches classic Slumdog Millionaire, and Jack Nicholson in the timeless psychological horror The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel.

Superhero Movies

There are plenty of films for superhero movie fans to enjoy, including underwater action in Aquaman, Joaquin Phoenix playing a Batman nemesis in Joker, DC masked ensemble film Justice League, Christian Bale starring as the Gotham City vigilante in The Dark Knight Rises, and Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.

Science Fiction Movies

Science fiction lovers have a wide range of movies to select from, with the pick of the bunch being 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and its follow-up Aliens, Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis in the end of the world thriller Armageddon, and Nick Frost and Simon Pegg traveling across the United States with an alien being in Paul. Horror fans will enjoy the classic Final Destination, IT: Chapter II, The Conjuring 2, and Nicole Kidman starring in The Others.

Family Movies

HBO Max also has plenty of entertainment for all the family with films such as Mrs. Doubtfire, The Goonies, The Lego Batman Movie, and The Neverending Story.

More recently released films on HBO Max include Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the musical drama A Star Is Born, Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and a group of young boys on a quest to find their lost toy in Good Boys. Further recent releases include Keanu Reeves at his frenetic best in John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Nicholas Hoult starring in Tolkien, and the Danny Boyle directed Yesterday.

Downloading content on HBO

HBO Max allows users to download content to watch offline. First, users should make sure they are connected to WiFi. Users can then simply select an episode or movie, tap “Download,” and wait for the content to download. Content will be accessible through the Downloads list once it has downloaded. 

HBO Max features

DVR Storage

On-demand streaming service HBO Max does not include Cloud DVR within its monthly subscription. Instead, users can download up to 30 episodes or movies onto their mobile device to watch offline, depending on the amount of storage they have available on their phone or tablet. They have 30 days to start watching an episode or movie and 48 hours to watch it once playback has begun. The same movie or show can also be downloaded on up to 5 devices.

Simultaneous Streaming

HBO Max subscribers can watch the service on as many screens as they have, as the service comes with unlimited simultaneous streams. They can also create up to 5 separate profiles within the same account.

Closed Caption Customization

The service also provides closed captioning during playback. Users can turn subtitles on and off then edit the font color, size, and style, and select the background color and opacity to enhance the text visibility. However, it does not provide audio descriptions, which the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+ all offer with their original content.

Parental Controls

HBO Max provides plenty of parental controls to prevent kids from watching inappropriate content. Parents can create a Kids profile using a secret PIN and their child’s birth month and year, which the service uses to impose content restrictions. Parents can then edit the profile by manually specifying which movies and TV shows they want to be available based on age ratings. Children cannot switch profiles without entering the PIN used to create the profile.

The final cut

HBO Max offers a comprehensive service of binge-worthy TV shows and a wide range of popular movies. This includes the entire back catalog of HBO’s original content, which will make the service a popular choice for people who enjoy the channel’s range of comedy and series. But it supplements that with popular comedy shows, cult classic films, and Hollywood hits.

The service costs $14.99/mo., which is substantially more than other similar on-demand streaming providers like Disney+ ($6.99/mo.) and Hulu ($5.99/mo.), and even Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Starz (all $8.99/mo.)

New subscribers can sign up for a seven-day free trial to test out the HBO Max streaming service without paying a cent, although they will have to provide payment details.

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