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Eye on Demand | September 26, 2017

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All 4 (4oD) Review

All 4 (4oD) Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
6
User Interface
7
Content on Offer
8
Device Availability
7.5
iOS
7
7.1

Impressive

Although Channel 4 is historically considered the third terrestrial television network in the UK after the BBC and ITV, it would come in many people’s minds a close second after the national public broadcaster. Channel 4, due to its public service remit, constantly delivers a broad range of cultural, artistic and entertaining programmes that often defy its commercial financing.

Alongside its broadcasting channels, Channel 4 offers one of the most comprehensive on-demand services anywhere in the world that not only sports a 30 day catch-up grace period on their latest episodes, as well as offline downloads, but also one of the largest back catalogues of any FTA (free to air) service.

Channel 4 is one of the UK’s bastions of local productions and are responsible for some of the best content to originate in Britain, which is quite an achievement when you consider the looming shadow of the BBC overhead, not to mention competing commercial operations like ITV. Unlike the BBC though, this is financed through commercial methods, which is one reason why All 4 has so many commercials – more than any other UK catch-up service. There are a few people that feel All 4 stream too many ads, but from channel 4’s perspective, they argue it is required to finance such a wide range of quality content. In any event, I don’t personally find All 4 plays too many commercials – I have seen far worse on live German television where it seems the commercial break is not only long enough to make a cup of tea, but with plenty of time to spare to actually make dinner as well.

Video quality varies greatly depending on platform, but at its best, it hovers around the SD mark, which to be honest is not terribly bad in the catch-up world. However, this quality is not seen across all platforms, so there is definitely work to be done by All 4 to improve in this area.

4od iPhone small

Platform support has never been All 4’s strongest asset, and there are still gaping holes where the broadcaster should have been present a long time ago. We’re still lacking Apple TV, Playstation 4 and Android TV apps, and whilst All 4 has reached the latest model Amazon Fire TV, they have not yet launched on the older generation models yet.

 

  • Of all the FTA catch-up services in the UK, and lets be honest they are a pretty impressive bunch, All 4 stands out for the sheer size of its library. Not only does All 4 operate as a catch-up service offering the majority of its currently aired programmes shortly after broadcast, but it also retains an enormous library of shows available as on-demand box-sets – complete seasons, entirely for free. In fact, in most other countries, many titles at All 4 are usually only found behind a subscription pay-wall.

    At the time of publication, All 4 also included an excellent category called World Drama and Walter Presents, where one Walter Iuzzolino, Chief Creative Officer of GSN curates a selection of his favourite dramas from around the world – and what a great collection they are as well.

    Have a browse through their current library below, and don’t forget, you can easily create a watchlist by signing up to Tank Top TV, so you can keep track of shows you find interesting!

  • All 4 via Browser

    All 4 Website

    Sign in to All 4 on your laptop or computer and you have access to a collection of TV shows not too shy from a thousand. Sign in you must though, as only television episodes from the last 30 days are available without the free account. Once you have logged in however, you will also be able to select favourite shows and features such as resume playback and playlists, where you can add collections selected by All 4 to group similar shows.

    Video quality depends on when it was added to the catalogue, with the oldest shows being somewhat unfriendly to the eye and the more recent ones close enough to standard definition to enjoy even on the largest of computer monitors. Still, at their best I tested an average of 1460kbps* for newer content. This is essentially a standard definition feed. It is a little bit annoying that it is considerably lower than what they offer on some of their other platforms. Granted, that was designed to showcase the channel’s content on large TVs, but many PC/Mac users have equally large monitors or connect them via HDMI to the living room television.

    All4 Web Bitrate 1460kbps

    All 4 also offer live feeds for five of their channels, with surprisingly good video quality even at full screen. At 1640kbps* video quality seems slightly lower than catch-up content, despite measuring slightly higher, but this is often the case for live feeds.

    All4 Web live Bitrate 1640kbps

    It’s no secret that watching TV via a computer browser is my least favourite way of zoning out on a movie or TV show. If there is absolutely no other way to watch All 4 than via a browser, fair enough, otherwise I highly recommend one of the other set-top-boxes or mobile apps in this review.

    (Accessing All 4 from outside of the UK may require using a Smart DNS service or VPN)

    Platform Pros:

    • Highest range of content available, including back-catalogue.
    • SD quality video streams on newer material.
    • Live television streams.
    • Watch Next in full-screen view.
    • Favourites and History view.
    • Timeline in show history.
    • Resume option.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not the most sofa-friendly user environment.
    • Only SD streams, and not as good as some other platforms.
    • Navigation between episodes can be confusing.
    • No episode management.
    • No cross-platform options, despite a log-in account.

     

    CC BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON SD BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON Resume BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • All 4 via iOS (iPhone or iPad)

    Best 2All 4 is also available as a native app for the iPhone and iPad, a necessity since due to Flash requirements, All 4 will not play in the mobile Safari web browser. Although the iPhone app is a thoroughly pleasant experience, as much as any television viewing can be on such a small device, it is the iPad’s implementation which really stands out from the crowd.

    Channel 4 has pulled out all the stops in design here, achieving the almost impossible, a combination of stunningly beautiful design and function in a single package. It is almost a relief to rid oneself from the usual dark and cluttered on-demand apps and web pages preferred by so many other services. All 4 on iPad is clean and bright, but it still lacks an easy way to find new material, and has no proper episode management – this makes it rather difficult to keep track of which series or episodes are currently being watched.

    However, all that aside, the biggest trick up its sleeve would be offline downloads! There are only a small handful of FTA services in the world that offer an iOS download service and along with the BBC, All 4 provide this amazing feature. Granted, due to licensing issues it is only available on the more recent catch-up content, but this library should grow in time. However, provided there is a download option, you should be able to save programmes from the last 30 days onto your iOS device to watch anytime, on or offline for the following 7 days – wherever you are in the world. Great for traveling, on a plane, train, tube or anywhere where a UK 3G/4G signal is not available.

    When All 4 initially offered this feature, the download quality seemed significantly lower than normal streaming, but that seems to be rectified now, and a 47minute programme will require approx 530MB of space on your mobile device. A nice after thought from All 4 here is that the app will automatically realize when you have no Internet connection or in airplane mode and point you in the direction of their downloads folder.

    As for regular playback, All 4’s new material was tested averaging 1785kbps*, which is absolutely fine for the smaller iPhone screen and adequate for the iPad and AirPlay. There are a few noticeable artifacts every now and again, but otherwise it is acceptable.

    All4 iPad Bitrate live 1785kbps

     

    All 4 also offers a live stream on their iOS apps as well, with an average bitrate of 1980kbps*. Video quality is acceptable, and this provides a good way to watch live feeds when required.

    All4 iPad Bitrate 1980kbps

    AirPlay ButtonAs for AirPlay, a dedicated AirPlay button is available on the playback screen when an ATV is detected in your home network, and sending content across to the big screen couldn’t be simpler than tapping this. However, there is no multitasking support, so you can’t switch off the iOS device or use it for other purposes during playback. I also have experienced regular problems with playback via AirPlay, with commercial breaks often repeating in an endless loop and a very annoying visual glitch which briefly flips the television back to the Apple TV Screen between each ad.

    Chromecast is another supported feature on the iSO app, allowing the content to be redirected to a big-screen TV, much like via AirPlay but supporting full multitasking since the Chromecast stick takes over the handling of the stream.

    (Accessing All 4 from outside of the UK may require using a Smart DNS service)

    Platform Pros:

    • Offline downloads for selected catch-up shows.
    • Native AirPlay support.
    • Chromecast support.
    • Countdown until program starts during commercials.
    • Video quality is acceptable for the smaller mobile screens.
    • Resume feature.
    • 3G and 4G supported.
    • Live TV as well as catch-up

    Platform Cons:

    • AirPlay does not allow multitasking.
    • No cross-platform support despite a log-in.
    • No access to Favourites, History or Playlists.
    • No closed captions (subtitles).
    • Regular AirPlay looping issues.
    • Flips back to ATV screen between ads.
    • No episode management.

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTONAirPlay BUTTONChromecast BUTTONLive TV BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • All 4 via Amazon Fire TV

    Note: At the time of publication, All 4 was only available on the 2nd generation Fire TVs, with Channel 4 stating that it will appear on older models “soon”. Although this hasn’t been confirmed by Channel 4, we have some evidence that points towards the broadcaster waiting for older generation Fire TVs to be updated to the latest Fire OS 5 before they will roll out on them.

    Despite being almost identical to All 4’s Roku app, somehow I prefer All 4 on the Fire TV. Perhaps this is because I can easily configure Smart DNS on the Fire TV, mix apps from different regions and that the Fire TV has the widest range of UK FTA broadcasters – it certainly can’t be the app itself as they appear pretty much identical.

    That said, like on the Roku, Channel 4 have pushed the older rebranded 4oD app onto the Fire TV meaning there are still no live streams as promised aeons ago.

    What we do get is a good range of All 4’s on-demand content, whether that be the latest episodes on a 30 day playback window or older complete box-sets of entire seasons and series.

    Playback quality is the SD standard you would expect for All 4, by which we tested an average of 1650kbps. While this is nothing to write home about, it is still acceptable and once it ramps up to the highest quality level, it’s quite watchable.

    All4 AFTV 1650kbps

    FFW and REW is a basic affair and doesn’t include any visual guides such as thumbnails. You can only jump backwards or forwards in 10second increments, but it is still possible to speed through the timeline and playback generally begins quite rapidly.

    Whilst there is thankfully a Resume function to allow an easy return to a half watched episodes, there is absolutely no episode management or cross-platform support. This means you’ll have to remember where you are in a series from memory or pencil and paper – hardly ideal in 2016 and not what we expect from such a huge broadcaster.

    (Accessing All 4 from outside of the UK may require using a Smart DNS service or VPN)

    Platform Pros:

    • Easy to use UI that works well.
    • Quick FFW and REW.
    • Resume feature.

    Platform Cons:

    • No live television streams.
    • No HD streams.
    • No favourites or watchlist.
    • No cross-platform support.
    • No episode management.

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • All 4 via Roku UK and Now TV Boxes

    Despite Channel 4’s promise of an update many months ago, All 4’s Roku app is still simply a rebranded 4oD app, and lacks the additional All 4 features such as live streams.

    All 4 on this tiny and affordable device is pretty much inspiration for the Amazon Fire TV’s user interface, which is not a bad thing. As soon as the channel launches, viewers are confronted by their familiar recommended highlights, but it is also possible to browse using a few other methods:

    • Catch-Up allows the viewer to select a show based on the date it aired. By default this begins from yesterday, but as well as the current day’s content, it is also possible to head backwards by almost 30 days. Programmes can be filtered also by channel to help narrow things down.
    • Categories offers the usual genre selections such as Comedy, Drama, Entertainment, Factual, Lifestyle and Sport.
    • Box Sets is basically where you can find entire seasons grouped into a single category, regardless of genre. Personally I find it easier to simply browse via Categories or A-Z.
    • A-Z is one of the easiest ways to find content if you know the exact name.
    • The Search function allows the viewer to find content if they don’t know the full title.

    Video quality is good with our own tests averaging approx 1760kbps* which basically means standard definition. Playback, whilst nowhere near as good as the BBC iPlayer, is still not terribly bad and pleasing enough to the eye to not cause too many complaints.

    All4 Roku Bitrate 1760kbps

    FFW and REW operates just as in the Fire TV app, with 50 second intervals unaided by thumbnails or visual references. Whilst this could be better, I still found it fast and easy to move around a video’s timeline.

    Finally, the lack of episode management and cross-platform support is effectively unforgivable. As good as All 4 is (and it really is very good), the lack of episode management is a bit like building an art gallery without any lighting. Try keeping track of more than a couple of series and you’ll see how ridiculously difficult it needlessly is.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fluid User Interface.
    • Good video quality.
    • Fantastic value when looking at the Now TV box.
    • Resume supported.

    Platform Cons:

    • No favourites or watchlist.
    • Video quality not as high as via the Samsung Smart Hub.
    • No live television streams.
    • No closed captions (subtitles).
    • No cross-platform support.
    • No episode management.

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    (Accessing All 4 on the Now TV or UK Roku box outside of the UK, may require a Smart DNS service configured in your home router)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • All 4 via Xbox One

    All 4 were one of two FTA television catch-up apps found in the UK region on the Xbox One launch day along with Demand 5, which to be honest, is a wonderful turnaround from the days when All 4 (or 4oD as it was called then) was pretty much the last UK TV service to appear anywhere.

    Despite the attractive layout that comes with the standard sideways-scrolling which is exclusive to the Xbox One interface, I found the UI to be confusing and difficult to navigate – so much so that I always choose another device when I want to watch All 4 content. It is especially irritating in the way it handles older episodes, and when combined with no episode management, it’s a recipe for UI disaster.

    Basically the five browsing options include All 4 Recommends, Catch-Up, Categories, Collections and A-Z Search, which incidentally, can be quickly scrolled using the top/rear trigger buttons.

    Otherwise the D-selector or left stick scrolls through everything during standard browsing, with the letter buttons used for selections, back-tracking or jumping to specific areas.

    Controller

    Along with the latest episode highlighted, selecting a show will also bring up opportunities to choose further episodes, but unlike All 4’s other platforms, here it works in a rather confusing matter. The current episode is listed by date and description, but not by season or episode number. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t do dates on television. I remember episodes by their number, not when they aired – which to be honest is sort of pointless in on-demand anyway.

    More episodes are found directly to the right, but with the same issue. There simply is not enough information present to ensure what I am looking at is indeed the episode I am after. If I want this information, I have to select the “…” option to bring up further episodes, and finally it becomes available.

    Video quality seemed fine for the most part and on par with other platforms tested at around 1720kbps*, but I did notice some older material that dated back to television’s 4:3 period appeared on the screen with the expected black bars, but also seemed warped in some way. Thankfully this doesn’t affect any 16:9 programmes, which is the bulk of All 4’s catelogue.

    On a more positive side, this app is on the Xbox One, which means there is no less than four different ways to control your browsing and viewing pleasure.

    Voice: I have to admit that despite the tackiness of the idea, one of the coolest way to control All 4 is by voice, and this can be started directly from the Xbox One’s Home screen. In fact, if you pin your favourite shows to the Xbox Home screen, you can begin playback of an episode with only a couple of basic command, starting with for example, “Xbox go to Grand Designs”. It is possible to pause, continue, stop, and browse television shows purely by voice, and it even works with fast forward and rewinding, but good luck for keyword searches. Voice control though can be finicky. When it works, it does so with grace and style and really makes it seem like the future is here to stay. But it is almost guaranteed to fail as soon as you try to demonstrate it to someone else, especially those critical of tech.

    Xbox Controller: In most cases, the Xbox One controller will be the obvious choice. The only real downsides here are the awkward shape requiring a two-handed operation, and the problem it will go into hibernation after a while – still, if you urgently need to pause, you can always yell it out. Otherwise the controller is a pleasant way to navigate and control All 4, and at least for navigating, one of the best.

    Smart Glass: I had been rather excited to see how the Xbox One would improve on their Smart Glass after all the hype Microsoft dished out. The reality is quite disappointing. There are no true second-screen activities here, with the only use being a thoughtlessly designed remote. In fact, Smart Glass is so poorly implemented, the one place where it would work better than anywhere else – the search function – doesn’t even bring up a proper keyboard.

    Programmable remote: As a last resort, you can always turn to a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony, and return back to the retro pleasures of horizontal one-hand sofa laziness. Once set up, it will work just as a good remote should, but be prepared for a lot of hair-loss during configurations, especially if you are competing with voice control to also switch on your Xbox and TV.

    All 4 on the Xbox One is overall an irritating app, and I really hope that when the full, latest version of All 4 (complete with live streams) is brought to the Xbox One, they use the standard UI instead of the Xbox-specific one.

    Platform Pros:

    • Good video quality.
    • Ability to pin shows to the Xbox One home screen.
    • Fast and responsive.

    Platform Cons:

    • Confusing way to handle episodes.
    • No closed captions (subtitles).
    • No Cross-platform support.
    • No live streams.
    • Old show in 4:3 aspect can look a bit warped.

    (Accessing All 4 Outside of the UK may require a good Smart DNS service)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTON Resume BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • All 4 via Android

    The following app has been tested on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 running KitKat 4.4. Due to the enormous fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, features, availability and UI may vary dramatically between devices.

    As far as Android apps go, All 4’s incarnation is quite simply one of the best Android apps available.

    Here is a way to watch some fantastic television, both from the latest episodes of Channel 4, as well as entire box-sets from their back catalogue, entirely for free. Keep in mind, many of these box-sets, such as The Inbetweeners, Utopia and Black Books are often found behind other services pay-walls, making this free app even more worth your while.

    The version tested here was a tablet one, and thankfully All 4 has made good use of the larger screen real-estate, but in all honesty, it still falls way short of All 4’s iOS app which also includes live streams – something painfully missing from the Android version.

    While the user interface differs quite dramatically from the updated iOS version, it is still easy enough to navigate around and find content, so long as you don’t watch too many shows at the same time since there is no form of episode management.

    The big killer feature falls down to the app’s magnificent offline downloads. This is nothing to scoff at either. Granted, All 4 supports 3G/4G streaming, but in reality that is rather a moot point due to most people’s mobile bandwidth. Whether unwelcomed data caps or unreliable signals, having the opportunity to download shows to the device is not only great while getting around town, but traveling around the world as well.

    Video quality is a bit of a interesting discussion. My own tests averaged a higher bitrate than I witnessed via the iPad, at approx. 1710kbps*. However, visually I have to say that the iPad’s stream looked sharper and clearer in contrast to what the bitrates suggested. Still, video for the most part was certainly watchable, and there is Chromecast support, meaning you can flip the stream over to a big-screen TV without too many hassles.

    4oD Android Bitrate 1710kbps

    Platform Pros:

    • Offline downloads for selected catch-up shows.
    • Countdown until program starts during commercials.
    • Video quality is acceptable for the smaller mobile screens.
    • Resume feature.
    • 3G and 4G supported
    • Chromecast support.

    Platform Cons:

    • No live television streams.
    • No cross-platform support despite a log-in.
    • No access to Favourites, History or Playlists.
    • No closed captions (subtitles).

    (Accessing All 4 Outside of the UK may require a good Smart DNS service)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Download BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTONChromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • All 4 via Chromecast

    For the most part, Chromecast utilizes the user interface from the platform controlling it, in which case this is currently either an iOS or Android app. The only difference now is that a small Chromecast button also appears if a device is found within the network.

    Which means at least for this review, refer to the Android or iOS tab for an overview regarding the general user interface.

    That aside, there are two methods to implement chromecasting, the first is a global setting, activated by pressing the Chromecast button usually found within the app at the top of the iPad, iPhone or Android screen, with the second option selecting directly from the playback window.

    Chromecast

    There is not a lot of difference between either method, with the only main point being that if you select the global button, a basic flash-screen indicating All 4 is ready to chromecast appears on the TV screen, and any time you begin a programme, it will automatically play on the television by default.

    Video quality averaged 1790kbps* during our tests, which basically translates to the same standard definition stream we’ve been measuring on other devices. Video quality can be a tad pixelated, but is ok for the most part.

    All4 Chromecast Bitrate 1790kbps

    So what happens to the mobile device after the live stream begins? Well, for a start you are left with a rather boring darkened screen offering little more than a scrubbing slider (to select a spot in the timeline). There is so much opportunity for second-screen functions here, but Channel 4 have yet to implement any.

    Being a Chromecast stream, you can also move away from the playback screen by pressing the back button, and either browse All 4 for alternative shows, use the mobile device for something else, switch off, or even remove entirely from the network. You don’t actually need the iOS or Android device at all anymore, well, except to stop the stream itself. Not so important during catch-up as that will stop at the end anyway, but live streams may be different.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic and easy way to stream All 4 content to a TV from Android or Apple mobile devices.
    • Full multitasking on the mobile device used for controlling.
    • Good video quality.
    • Easy to use.
    • Includes live streams (from iOS).
    • Includes all of the great features of All 4’s mobile platforms.
    • Affordable way to get All 4 onto your main TV.

    Platform Cons:

    • No way to easily stop the show without finding your way back to the exact spot in the iPlayer.
    • All 4 could add direct buttons to other live channels from the live playback screen.
    • Not so easy to use with Smart DNS via a Chromecast stick, but easy via Android TV.

    (Accessing All 4 via Chromecast from outside the UK may require a Smart DNS service configured in your router, along with blocking Google’s DNS lookups)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • How to Watch All 4 from Abroad

    Watching All 4 on your home television outside of the UK is not only possible, but incredibly easy to do. The trick is to grab yourself a good Smart DNS service. While some people tout VPNs, that method is a little out of date these days and nowhere near as good as Smart DNS.

    Smart DNS is faster than a VPN, easier to set up than a VPN, cheaper than a VPN, and unlike a VPN, it can be configured on most smart TVs and set-top-boxes. So how easy is it?… well that depends on which device you are using. The easiest of all would be the Amazon Fire TV (2nd Gen Model), although the Xbox One is pretty painless as well.

    Although we love the Roku, Now TV and Chromecast devices, we don’t recommend them for accessing content abroad unless your router can manually configure DNS addresses and static routes, and many can’t (especially ones supplied by ISPs). If you prefer these devices though, contact us for more details.

    So otherwise grab yourself an Amazon Fire TV and watch All 4 today! You’ll need to add the All 4 app to your device, and if you already have an Amazon account in another country, it requires this somewhat fiddly, but not terribly difficult method.


     

    Now, you just need to unblock All 4. Normally All 4 notices if your IP address is outside of the UK and blocks access to the streams. The easiest way to unblock this is via a Smart DNS service.

    There are a lot of Smart DNS services out there right now, but our current favourite for the All 4 is Getflix, not only because they work great for All 4, but they also have fantastic support for the Fire TV platforms, meaning plenty of other apps like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Demand 5, TVPlayer, UKTV Play and more also work outside of the UK.

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

    Getflix offer a two week free trial with no credit card required for the trial period! This means you can test it out risk free, to see if it works in your home network. If you are happy with the service, they’ll charge only US$3.95 per month and cheaper if you go for longer plans – and that’s less expensive than a cup of coffee these days! Not bad really when you consider full access to All 4’s live and on-demand content, as well as an enormous range of other services as well.

    So why not give it a go and see how easy it is to work for you. You can set up All 4 on a huge range of devices, including mobile phones and tablets (complete with offline downloads), as well as via a browser.

     

  • All 4 have a potential winner on their hands here. Of all the FTA British on-demand services, All 4 offers the largest back catalogue with good quality video and at times an interface that is hard to beat.

    Even the iPhone, somewhat understated in this review, flaunts an unrivaled user experience in such a small package. With a user interface so well designed, navigating and browsing either iOS app is almost more enjoyable than watching the shows on offer. Despite this, the lack of proper episode management is verging on unforgivable and is one of the major reasons holding back a higher score. That said, the fact that All 4 are only one of a handful of global FTA services that offer free offline downloads via iOS is a massive plus in their favour!

    Recent improvements to All 4’s hardware support have been welcomed and it is no longer so terribly difficult to watch Channel 4’s catch-up content on an actual television.

    If I have a couple of user interface gripes with All 4, I would first suggest the notable lack of episode management and cross-platform support, which is really odd since Channel 4 forces people to create accounts anyway. After becoming used to this on Netflix or Amazon Prime, it is really hard to come back down to All 4 and use a pen and paper to keep track of where I am in a series or show.

    Secondly, although I am generally impressed with All 4’s home screen, I find its Highlights section a bit lacking. It just seems a little difficult to find brand new content. Highlights can include new shows, but more often than not, older ones as well, which leads me to miss many great new opportunities.

    All that said, All 4 is one of the strongest free on-demand services available – anywhere in the world. If only it could implement proper episode management, along with higher video quality, All 4 could possibly be one of the hardest services to beat.

    Pros:

    • Excellent back catalogue, especially for a free to air service.
    • Offline downloads on selected content for iOS and Android.
    • Very good web layout and user interface.
    • Clean, bright and uncluttered.
    • Very good quality video streams via some platforms.
    • Resume feature for continuing shows already started.
    • Live streams on selected platforms.

    Cons:

    • Poor implementation of cross-platform support, watchlists and favourites.
    • Issues with their ad-server which can buffer or freeze.
    • Poor implementation of ads via AirPlay.
    • No proper episode management.
    • Closed captions (subtitles) is not globally available.
    • Poor highlights of new content and shows.
    • Back-catalogue on non-web based services are limited in comparison.

     

     

    CC BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Download BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTONAirPlay BUTTONChromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Log:

    05.02.2013: Review published. Score: 5.4 – Above Average.

    22.03.2013: 4oD Samsung Smart TV app became available. New TV app reviewed. Score updated: 5.8 – Above Average.

    11.04.2013: Due to review policy change, Airplay criteria changed to Airplay & iOS, awarding 4oD 2 points here: Score updated: 6.2 – Above Average.

    25.07.2013: Massive iOS update to include offline downloads: Score updated to 7 – Impressive.

    20.08.2013: Updated to include tested bitrate stream for Samsung Smart TV.

    22.08.2013: Further updates regarding video quality across all platforms.

    27.11.2013: New Roku and Now TV review added. Score updated to 7.2.

    13.12.2013: Added Xbox One Review.

    31.01.2014: Overall update, with new details and information based on gradual evolution.

    03.07.2014: Major overhaul and added Android review.

    18.08.2014: Added Tank Top TV database.

    26.11.2014: AirPlay Support Added. Score updated to 7.4.

    17.07.2015: Updated web & iOS for All 4, score dropped to 7 due to poor episode management.

    12.01.2016: Major update across the board, including adding AFTV review. Score increased to 7.1

     

    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

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Comments

  1. Rob

    Can you simply not hook it up to the TV via an hdmi cable? That’s how I do it.

    Rob

    • Rob

      instead of using airplay.

    • Yes, that is certainly a way, although many services that block AirPlay also block the HDMI out as well. I haven’t tested 4oD with the HDMI-out cable, but it didn’t work with the Composite-out cable. Interesting that it does work with HDMI. Personally though, I always recommend AirPlay. It is simply a far more elegant solution, and one that is much more comfortable when seated on the sofa. The cost of an Apple TV is great value for money when you take into account all the other things it can do, but the price of an Apple HDMI cable is expensive when it really is just a cable.

      • Thanks for the article Jo. For those who live outside UK and want to access 4OD, you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.

  2. Tim Bartlett

    so much post modern/structural advice, on platforms and devices, I was actually looking for reviews of the actual content – what’s worth watching of the 4oD dramas themselves rather than how/where I can access it – any idea where I can find this?
    Tim

    • You’ve got me thinking on this one. I have been avoiding content reviews as my own personal tastes may be far removed from everyone elses. Also, the difficulty of reviewing so much content from right around the world is currently above our capabilities. But your requests are something which we would like to offer somehow in the future, even if it means partnering with other sites.

  3. Ross

    Having a problem with 4OD. Have both Now TV and Samsung smart TV and both apps load but when I want to watch a show it comes up as “This program is not available in your current location”. I have the TV time set to London, but the Now TV box only allows USA time zones. All other UK apps work great, and 4OD works on the laptop. In NZ using Smart DNS

    • Hi Ross, I’ll into this, and see if I can replicate it where I am…

    • I use a US Roku that has been factory reset to UK. 4oD platform works really well on there. In NZ via UnblockUS

  4. Daz Chambers

    Hi Ross,

    I had the same problem, ITV and BBC worked fine it was just certain programes on 4OD, mainly ones on E4 that I got the same message. I am not sure how you have it configured but I use a Smart DNS via the Samsung TV. Have configured the country to UK, and the way around it is to set the time zone to UK, I also had to fiddle with the country as when I set it up it would automatically pickup Spain.

    I selected Other, and then I was able to manually override the time zone to GMT +1.

    Reset everything and hey presto its now working fine….. Country watching the 100 as we speak, and went through hours of fiddling with the settings trying to work it out.

    Hope it helps

  5. Hideo

    Hello ,

    i love this app , the problem when i use it with airplay everythings works great but you need to let the app on screen so cant do nothing else with the ipad , is there any option to make it work on background

    Thanks

    • Hi there, unfortunately no. Multitasking support is a feature that needs to be added by the developer, and in this case Channel 4 have not activated it.

  6. Hideo

    Hi , i have a problem with all 4 app on ios 9 , it was working perfectly but after the last update when i launch the app it doent stop loading , any idea

    • I haven’t seen this problem myself, but have you tried uninstalling and reinstalling it? Also, are you using a VPN or Smart DNS service? Is that working fine for other apps?

  7. Hideo

    I use a smart dns , no probleme with iplayer even the all 4 app was working before the last update , know it launch normaly then it begins loading and nothing happen

  8. Hideo

    Hi joe , thanks for the reply , the problem was on tje jailbreak side , as we know all 4 isnt supported on jailbreak devices and all i needed to do is to update the patch , for those interrested its called fourje http://cydia.saurik.com/package/yt.hakob.fourje/

    • Thanks for posting the info Hideo

  9. Hideo

    I’ve never managed to watch downloaded shows , when i try to watch a show after i download the app crash , so i was never been able to watch any downloaded show ( with all 4 versions )

    • Hi Hideo, perhaps try reinstalling the app? I use this whenever I travel and it is the killer feature. If a reinstall doesn’t fix this, I’d recommend contacting All 4 support.

  10. Hideo

    Nothing works …. Maybe it has something to do with jailbreak . When i try to watch the video after i downloaded it the app freeze
    Thanks anyway

    • Ah, jailbreak… I think that’s the problem. All 4 (and 4oD) has since it’s inception been unfriendly towards jailbroken devices.

  11. Adrian

    Which planet is this reviewer living on? The android app is unreliable, constantly freezing during adverts thus making it impossible to progress the viewing of the actual programme. The content may well be good, but having to download a programme 3 or 4 times to make it to the end is not acceptable. I shall be writing to each company who’s adverts freeze, to tell them I associate their product with the unhappy experience I get. Maybe if many other people do the same, then pressure from the sources of funds for C4 will get them to write a decent app. I have no problems with BBC iPlayer on android and it is a joy to use.

    • Hi Adrian,
      Thanks for your comment.
      If you start to also experience problems with adverts freezing on the iPlayer, write in as well. We’d love to hear about it 🙂

  12. Polls

    I must live on a co letely different planet to this reviewer!
    Tried the app on 3 different android tablets.
    On the 2 running jelly bean, I’m informed that my tablet is rooted – it’s not. Then I’m informed that a vital bit of firmware is missing.
    On my Galaxy Tab A (lollipop) it won’t even download.

    So channel 4 have collected my data, but all I collect is frustration.