Review: MLB At Bat 2009
Okay, I admit it, I am a die hard baseball fan. One of the first apps I bought last year was MLB At Bat, and when I heard it was coming out again, after a brief period of annoyance, I decided to purchase it again.
On a side note, I expect to see many more subscription based or "partial" purchase based apps with the new pricing methods in the app store. I don't think it bodes well.
But anyway, I decided to get the app when I saw that this year it included the MLB Audio - radio broadcasts of the games. As a bonus, you get to choose the stream to listen to!
So how does it stack up? I must say, very well.
When you start the app, you are presented with a screen showing the days games. The current score and inning are listed, and if you click on a game, you get a short highlight summary at the bottom of the screen (how many outs, who is pitching and batting, on base, etc). You can scroll through the various games. When a game is highlighted, you can click on "audio" and choose from either of the teams radio stream to listen to the game. Unfortunately, you can't have it in the background (curse you iPhone) so you need to stay in the application in order to listen to the stream. If you click the blue arrow, you are taken to what I call the "game" menu.
The game menu is broken down into a variety of screens. The first one, gameday, shows you the current batter, pitch by pitch (with location) action of what is going on. You can also see the fielding situation (including dimensions for each stadium), the box score, the game summary, and of course video highlights (just like last year) by selecting the various tabs at the bottom. The video highlights are supposed to be better quality this year, but I always look at them when I am connected via wifi, so I have no problem with the quality. I wish they had more highlights to choose from (it seems that they are moslty focused on big hits). The video is not HD quality or like watching a movie, but it certainly is okay to watch for a ten-second highlight.
Back on the main screen, there is an additional button for "extras". With Extras, you can look at additional MLB videos (like "A look at the ballparks of the last decade" and fantasy updates"). You can also look at the up to date standings, legal information, or be taken to the MLB.com website in safari. I wish they have other information like leaderboards, player stats, matchup information. It is all available at MLB.com, but I would think it would be easy to have it in the app itself (especially since if you leave the app, the audio stream is lost).
Out of curiosity, I tried watching the game-day play by play, watching a game on TV, and listening on the radio, just to see how it synced up. The radio had the longest lab, the TV was the fastest, but evne then it was only about one pitch behind.
Pros: Audio! Gameday effects are nice, lots of options for "in game" status
Cons: Lacking some basic statistical information, some video highlights seem to be sparse (for some teams)
All in all, for baseball fans on the road, this is almost a must-have app. The price ($9.99) is not cheap, but it is very reasonable compared to what they charge for Gameday audio online. I wish they have video highlights for every half inning or so, rather than just having (at times) one or two per game. I also wish they have more reference and statistical information. But this is a great app for following a team when you are on the road - just make sure you have your car charger! Most of the stuff I found lacking were things that don't really detract from the app, but rather things that would put the app over the top. Four and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.