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How to watch TV and movies on your Apple iPad

Whether you own the original Apple iPad or the new thinner iPad 2, one of its best less-talked about uses is to watch films and television on.

Everybody knows how great Apple’s tablet device is
for music, apps and surfing the internet but tuning in to movies and TV shows on the move brings a whole extra world of entertainment.

Now you must remember that if you are watching television on your iPad, you need a TV Licence to do so. As long as you have one for your household telly, then you’re fine. But you can’t get away with only owning an iPad and no TV at home. All digital TV watching whether through this gadget or on your PC or laptop needs an official TV Licence.

But it’s well worth it as there are plenty of websites and
apps out there to help you make the most of the iPad’s video
capabilities. Below are some of my favourites
to get you started.


The first port of call has to be the BBC iPlayer – just like you would with your computer.

It is available both through the Safari
browser or now as an official BBC iPlayer app – just type ‘iPlayer’ in the App Store – and you can catch up on seven days’ worth of shows from
all the BBC’s channels, in stunning HD quality. You can also watch the various channels live and it is so simple to use.

In fact, a child could use it, so it’s handy for keeping the kids quiet in front of CBeebies.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy with the other key
terrestrial stations but luckily Channel 4 has just released an app for its 4oD catch-up service, free for a limited time.

There is also a website called to fill the void. Just go to
on your tablet and hit ‘sign up’. It’s completely free to anyone in the UK as
long as your ISP is compatible, which almost all are.

You can then choose from 50
channels – made up of pretty much the same selection you get on Freeview –
which stream live. The only drawback I’ve found as an iPlayer fanatic is that
the picture quality and buffering times don’t live up to the BBC

For those who like their premium
sporting content on TV, it’s all about Sky for the iPad.

The satellite provider’s Sky
Mobile TV app
allows you to watch Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4, Sky Sports News and
Sky News on any Apple device.

There is a monthly cost however –
ranging from £5 for a current Sky Sports subscriber to £35 for a non-customer.

The new Sky News for iPad app however is free and brings you a live stream from the channel as well as archived video reports.


The most obvious, and easiest,
way to watch a movie on your iPad is to simply press the ‘iTunes’ button on
your desktop or on the iPad itself and then either search for the flick of your choice or hit the
‘Films’ tab for a selection.

Films are available to buy or
rent, with rentals staying on the iPad for 30 days with a 48 hour period to
complete viewing once you’ve started watching.

As you’d expect the quality is
excellent, and the download process simplicity itself, however the pricing
certainly takes those two facts into account. It can cost up to £13.99 to buy an
HD movie and anywhere from £2.49-4.49 to rent one.

A cheaper option is to simply
stream the films you already own on your PC or Mac direct to the iPad via Wi-Fi
by downloading an app called ‘Air Video’ and the corresponding software for
your desktop from

A simple sync and you can now
watch all the videos from your computer on your iPad – no matter what format
they are stored in – thus saving the time, effort and, most importantly, the hard
drive space that it would take to transfer them over.

Right now there’s no other full movie download or streaming service such as the ones available in America, but it can’t be long before the likes of LoveFilm change that.

What are your favourite apps to watch TV and movies on your iPad? Let us know with a comment…

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