Review: MLB At Bat 2011, by MLB.COM
MLB At Bat 2011 (iPad), By MLB.COM
• Live game audio and video (if you pay)
• Nice at-bat mode for watching game action
• News feed to keep track of favorite teams
• “At Bat” mode could be made even more impressive
• No “league leaders” and limited team/league statistical information
• Can’t buy “team” packages for video viewing
I last review the MLB At Bat app for the iPhone, but I hadn’t purchased the iPad app last year. This year I decided to change that and take a look at the iPad app instead of the iPhone app. Yes, unfortunately the apps are separate, so you can’t buy a universal binary. To make matters worse, there are advertisements in the app as well. Hey, MLB, how about selling an ad free version is you are paying $15!!
The iPad app is much more impressive than the iPhone app was last year. I can’t compare it to the iPad app last year (since I didn’t buy it) but I will tell you about the features the impressed me. First, however, I did buy the MLB.TV subscription so I am able to watch live games. There currently is a free one month trial of MBL.TV for the first month, so you can try the app out first before buying the subscription. The live video is a very good quality, assuming you have a good wifi connection (I haven’t tried it with the 3G connection). Assuming there are no blackout restriction, you can watch any game on the schedule, with either the home or the visitor video feed. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a way to buy an “in app subscription” to MLB.TV – you need to do that through the MLB website. If you have an MLB.TV account subscription, you also have access to the archived games – you can watch any previous game (although when I have done so, its checks the blackout restrictions, but still let me play the video)
For people without the MLB.TV subscription, there are still lots of features available for you. First, some details which are similar to the iPhone app. Just like the iPhone app, you can listen to both home and away radio broadcasts. The radio broadcasts are great, and I have found myself listening to those in the background when I am working (even though I could have the live video feed). Just like the iPhone app, you can have access to updated baseball news, standings, player data, and video highlights of games. One really nice feature I am happy to see is a “game summary”. You can see the highlights of a game, condensed into a game summary. This option is available when you see older games (along with the archived video footage). Please note, the full archived games are only available if you have a MLB.TV account subscription.
For people who somewhat want to feel they are following a live game, but don’t have a video feed, you have the “Game Day” screen. This screen can give you up the minute, pitch by pitch results of each at bat. Unfortunately, they don’t let you stream the gameday audio at the same time, which would be really interesting. They probably prevent in case they audio doesn’t “sync” with the Game Day screen information.
In the Game Day screen view, you arep resented with the view as if you are the catcher. You can watch pitch by pitch what is happening, with instant information if the pitch was a ball, a strike, a foul, or put in play. You can also have additional screens of information appear – the “matchup screen” telling you about the pitcher and the batter, the box score screen, the plays screen (telling you about all the major plays up to that point), the lineups, or you can click on video highlights. This Game Day screen is pretty nice, although it would be nice to have various sound effects (which you get if you are watching online via a computer). I would also like to be able to see alternating views (such as when a ball is hit, acting like a camera and “following” the ball). This would make it seem much more like you are watching a live game.
But even with those wish list items, the Game Day view is pretty awesome. My personal favorite add on is a feature where you can get detailed pitch information – the speed, , type of pitch, break, etc. With all that information, however, I still wish there was more. It would be great to be able to see things like how many pitches of a specific type a pitcher has thrown, or the average velocity of each kind of pitch. You know, the kind of information that a baseball nerd would want.
With all the great features, I still wish there was more. I wish there were more detailed stats available, including things like league leaders and team stats. Right now, the only team information you can get is the standing. I wish you could do a split screen view to either follow a couple of games or have multiple live information shown (this is available on the computer version online for MLB.TV). Basically, I wish that all the features available with online viewing of a game via MLB.TV (on a computer) were available on this app as well.
I also wish you could buy a “Team package” to get access to a specific teams video feed, rather than having to buy ALL the video feed as a package. I wish it was a universal app, so I didn’t have to spend $30 to have it on both my iPhone and Ipad (how about selling both individually, and making a universal app for $20 or something!). But even with these complaints, MLB At Bat 2011 is still a great app.
All in all, this app is a MUST for any baseball fan. While having the MLB.TV subscription enhances the app, it is not by any means required to make this app worthwhile. Loads of features are available, making it fun to watch or listen to any live game. While the price is a little steep ($14.99) and it is NOT a universal binary, for someone like myself who wants to follow a couple of teams throughout the season, this app is almost a must buy. 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.