Max Streaming Service Review: A Wealth of Content, Everywhere at Once

8.0

Max

Like


  • Large library that covers any period and viewers of all ages

  • Putting, eye-catching interface

  • Bigger collection of 4K titles

  • Watch HBO exhibits as they air

  • Children’ content material lineup and parental management options

Don’t love


  • Glitchy person expertise

  • Lacking episodes from in style TV exhibits

  • Excessive value, even with adverts

Max is right here. The refashioned streaming service replaces HBO Max and boasts greater than 35,000 hours of content material with a library twice as massive as its predecessor. Mixing Discovery Plus titles with the previous HBO Max, the revamped service showcases the depth of the Warner Bros. catalog as befits an organization that is been within the leisure enterprise for 100 years. 

HBO has lengthy been thought of status tv with exhibits like The Sopranos, Recreation of Thrones and Succession. Warner Bros. Discovery selected to drop HBO from Max’s new identify in favor of magnifying all of its manufacturers and broadening its enchantment to a bigger viewers — together with children. (It already has a high spot on our checklist of the greatest streaming companies for teenagers.) 

Merging all this content material underneath one roof offers the platform a leg up on its greatest rivals: Netflix and Disney Plus. That stated, Max is on the pricier facet with a beginning charge of $10 monthly to look at with adverts, going as much as $20 in order for you 4K and extra streams. 

Should you already get entry to Max at no cost, akin to with an HBO cable subscription, you need to positively maintain it. On the time of this writing, Max nonetheless has to work out some bugs with how the app features to make streaming extra seamless. However the breadth of the platform’s catalog and video high quality makes it price having, particularly for those who’re comfy paying more cash for a streaming service. You’ll be able to at all times break up the fee with somebody exterior your family and share your streams. And for those who’re somebody who solely desires to stream Discovery Plus, it is nonetheless accessible as a separate app.

Learn extra: Greatest Streaming System for 2023

Streaming companies in contrast

Max Disney Plus Netflix Prime Video Hulu
Month-to-month value Begins at $10 Begins at $8 Begins at $7 $9 (or included with $140/12 months Prime membership) Begins at $8
Advertisements Sure Sure Sure No Sure
Prime titles Succession, Home of the Dragon, Titans The Simpsons, The Mandalorian, Bluey Stranger Issues, Queen Charlotte, Squid Recreation, Dahmer Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, Rings of Energy Handmaid’s Story, The Bachelor, Bob’s Burgers
Cell downloads accessible Sure Sure Sure Sure Sure
4K HDR accessible Sure Sure Sure (on Premium plan) Sure Sure
Variety of streams 2 (4 for Final) 4 1 (2 for Normal, 4 on Premium) 2 2

How a lot is Max?

Costs for Max subscriptions are the identical because the previous HBO Max: With adverts, it is $10 monthly ($100 yearly) and ad-free is $16 a month ($150 yearly). However the brand new Final ad-free plan is $20 month-to-month and would be the solely subscription to supply 4K content material and Dolby Atmos on choose films and exhibits. For now, options like 4K entry and Dolby Imaginative and prescient can be accessible through the first six months of Max’s launch for legacy prospects with the $16 ad-free plan.

Max subscription plans

Advert-Lite Advert-Free Final (ad-free)
Month-to-month value $10 $16 $20
Variety of screens you’ll be able to watch on the identical time 2 2 4
Variety of offline downloads 0 30 100
HD accessible Sure Sure Sure
4K Extremely HD accessible No No Sure

Although a lot of the main streaming platforms have raised costs, Max stays among the many most costly companies. Its pricing is similar to Netflix for the ad-free expertise, however no less than you’ll be able to nonetheless share your password with out paying further. We frolicked testing all three subscription tiers and famous any variations between Max and the earlier model of the app. Every plan affords one thing completely different.

Max’s secure of TV exhibits and films is its energy

Max has a hefty catalog that carries a variety of movies and TV collection throughout a number of genres, and there’s something for each age group in your family. The wedding between the HBO Max library and Discovery Plus serves up a collection of meals, drama, comedy, animation, crime, superheroes, nature docs and way of life. Along with HBO titles and Max originals, you may discover DC, Studio Ghibli, CNN, Sesame Avenue, Looney Toons, Meals Community, Magnolia Community, TLC, TCM, The CW and extra — together with the large vault of Warner Bros. movie and TV exhibits that spans a century. Just some issues from Discovery Plus are on the platform although — particularly the preferred content material.

Warner Bros. Discovery says it’ll roll out “40 new titles and seasons each month” on the service. At launch, the service debuted new Max originals like Gremlins: Secrets and techniques of the Mogwai and SmartLess: On The Highway, together with HBO originals akin to Actuality (starring Sydney Sweeney). The catalog will proceed to increase within the coming months, together with platform exclusives.

gremlins-secrets-of-the-mogwai

Gizmo has an unique collection on Max that is excellent for the entire household.

Max

The Justice League lives right here with different DC properties, and Discovery’s stash of documentaries and actuality TV exhibits is a click on away. HBO favorites like Succession, The White Lotus, The Final of Us and Home of the Dragon can be found to stream as they air dwell on the cable community, with new episodes arriving every week. And you may nonetheless stream TCM classics akin to Soiled Harry and Nationwide Lampoon’s Trip on the platform.

Max’s choices for teenagers are a spotlight of the service, with a lot to stream from Elmo, Cartoon Community, Scooby Doo, Lego, DC, all variations of Teen Titans and a number of originals. That features preschool content material like Blippi, household films and teen-friendly TV exhibits, animation and movie franchises.

Whereas exploring the content material, I observed lacking episodes for some exhibits like Common Present, which is a staple in my family. Steven Universe is seemingly intact, however different collection like Superb World of Gumball, Impractical Jokers and We Naked Bears will not be. It is unclear whether or not it is a short-term bug, a licensing matter or if Max is within the technique of eradicating extra content material. 

Learn extra: Max: The 34 Absolute Greatest TV Exhibits to Watch

Large bonus: Extra 4K titles

On HBO Max, there have been lower than 40 films and TV exhibits accessible to stream in 4K HDR. When you have the Final plan and a tool that helps 4K, you can stream greater than 1,000 titles, together with Avatar: The Means of Water, Home of the Dragon, Dune, The Wizard of Oz, Goodfellas, And Simply Like That…, Euphoria and all of the Harry Potter movies. Should you sort “4K” within the search bar, 27 exhibits and films pop up, however you need to search for the format within the title’s description. 

Warner Bros. Discovery stated the 4K lineup would possibly change, however you’ll find a listing of what was accessible at launch by visiting this web page. Remember the corporate will proceed to take away titles from the Max service as a part of its cost-cutting technique. 

Learn extra: HBO Max Is Now Max: New Films and TV Exhibits You Can Watch Proper Now

Lo'ak pets the whale-like Payakan while sitting on his fin in Avatar: The Way of Water

Watch Avatar: The Means of Water in 4K on Max.

twentieth Century Studios

Early glitches

Earlier than I dive into the expertise of utilizing Max, you need to know my early testing was stuffed with glitches. Max arrived on Could 23, days earlier than Memorial Day weekend — prime time for streaming. I spent greater than every week getting acquainted with Max, studying its strengths and flaws whereas evaluating it to its earlier incarnation and its rivals.

There have been some hiccups. Simply switching from the previous purple HBO Max app on my Roku stick and Amazon Hearth TV system to the brand new blue Max app was stuffed with frustration. And even after my week-long jaunt into Max, its efficiency was nonetheless lower than clean. A number of the glitches have been minor e.g. a present host’s image did not match the identify within the description. Others, such because the TV app freezing and ultimately kicking me out or some notably wonky navigation, have been extra of a problem. For instance, I discovered myself in a seemingly limitless scroll of titles attempting to succeed in the display screen’s backside, when abruptly the selector field acquired reduce off, the app froze and my TV display screen was a blue abyss. 

However no less than my profiles, watch checklist and Proceed Watching rows all migrated with no hitch. I did not lose any playback progress for films and exhibits that I ended, both. And regardless of the bugs, the video high quality on Max is top-notch. The telephone app expertise was significantly higher, too. Max is actively figuring out any kinks on all platforms based mostly on buyer suggestions, so the general expertise ought to get smoother. We’ll replace this evaluate with any progress in a month or two.

max app on TV screen showing movie and TV show tiles

I stored dropping my place when scrolling up and down rows of content material.

Max/Screenshot by CNET

Consumer interface and navigation expertise

For essentially the most half, Max seems and operates equally to HBO Max and different streamers like Hulu and Netflix. As promised, the rebranded service comes with some enhancements and large modifications to the person expertise. The purple is gone (I miss it, and you might too), however even with the colour palette switching to blue — like Paramount Plus, Disney Plus and Sling TV — the TV app remains to be crisp. The telephone model appears darker however remains to be simple to observe. Among the many added enhancements are an expanded set of profile avatars with greater than 350 choices, a default child’s profile for brand new accounts and optimized personalization.

Screenshot of Max phone app interface displaying the title card for Gremlins: Secret of the Mogwai.

Navigation icons on Max’s telephone app are on the backside of a present’s title web page.  

Max/Screenshot by CNET

Adjustments to the house display screen, navigation and content material group are noticeable. The highest rail has 5 tabs: Dwelling, TV collection, Films, HBO and “New & Notable.” The outstanding placement of the HBO tab is useful as a direct path to discovering all releases — new or previous — from the community and a plus for many who solely care a bit in regards to the Discovery Plus library. 

On TVs, a brand new facet panel has solely three icons: Dwelling, Search and My Stuff. The latter shortly took me to my Proceed Watching part and watch checklist. On the telephone app, this panel is situated on the backside and has a obtain icon in case your plan consists of them. 

The highest row on Max is Proceed Watching (you probably have one), adopted by private suggestions curated by the app after which My Record (for those who added titles). The house display screen will develop into extra personalised over time because the app learns your habits. The truth is, all menu sections past the house web page, akin to Sequence and Films, will develop into extra personalised the extra you employ them.

tv screen showing max streaming brand hubs for hbo, tlc

The previous hub format on HBO Max (left) versus the brand new format on Max.

Max/Screenshot by CNET

Scrolling down the house display screen reveals Warner Bros. Discovery’s content material model hubs — all 18 of them — together with HBO, TLC, HGTV, DC, Max Originals, Children & Household or Ghibli. One apparent distinction is the row of style tiles is now situated all the way in which on the backside of the house display screen. It is inconvenient as you have to scroll previous all the opposite rows, together with Max’s curated collections, to get to them. You need to use the app’s search to seek out them, however merely placing them larger up on the house web page makes extra sense to me. 

So far as playback, I solely skilled just a few issues with Max. For instance, whereas streaming one TV present episode, the video stored enjoying once I tried to rewind a scene, ignoring my command. 

Suggestions want time to get to know you

As a result of Max is an improve — or enhanced replace — of HBO Max, the streaming service begins from scratch relating to suggestions. Your historical past from HBO Max won’t import to the brand new model, and with all of the merged content material from Discovery Plus, there’s extra to sift by to look at — or skip. The algorithm wants time to study who you might be, and what you want, and can ultimately meet up with your preferences, rotating in recent additions. 

tv screen showing Max streaming app show recommendations

Model new rows of suggestions in Max.

Max/Screenshot by CNET

The model hubs will enable you to with the transition from HBO Max to Max, making it simpler for patrons to seek out content material and fine-tune the advice machine. Throughout testing, I observed not all hubs are solely devoted to their manufacturers, so that you’re prone to discover some cross-hub strategies. It goes deeper than that with associated collections and hyperlinks to different films or TV collection that includes a selected actor. For example, you’ll be able to choose a Harry Potter solid member or different Warner-owned franchises and be whisked away to the land of Superman, Center-Earth, The Matrix, James Bond and extra collections.

Utilizing parental controls

I gave the default child’s profile a spin to get a really feel for the expertise. It is preconfigured with entry to PG- and TV-PG-rated films and exhibits. Mother and father can regulate the content material scores, and also you’re prompted to take action the primary time you click on on the profile. You’ll be able to solely change the settings from an online browser, although. 

Scores vary from little children — which begins at TV-Y — as much as teenagers, with essentially the most mature choices being TV-14 and PG-13. So long as you retain the profile set to Children Mode, your baby will solely see age-appropriate content material in line with the scores that you simply select. Should you toggle the kid-proof exit button, a four-digit PIN is required as a way to exit the profile. The house screens look completely different relying on the age and content material scores, so you might need to create separate profiles you probably have older children and little ones within the household. 

After I set my child’s profile for teenagers, a few of the titles that confirmed up on the house display screen included Talladega Nights, Buddies, The Large Bang Principle, 50 First Dates, Teen Titans Go! and the Harry Potter assortment. Remember that there is all kinds of content material underneath the teen-rating umbrella for those who’re a guardian who desires to watch what your baby is watching.

Learn extra: 10 Issues You Can Do to Save Cash on Streaming

Streaming Max with adverts vs. ad-free

On the ad-based plan, the advert load is nearly the identical as earlier than, with 3 to 4 minutes of commercials enjoying per hour of content material. After I watched one 90-minute episode of 90 Day Fiancé, I encountered 5 business breaks of varied lengths that lasted a complete of three minutes, 15 seconds. Against this, once I streamed Shazam 2 (which runs for two hours, 10 minutes), the whole advert time was just below 2 minutes, together with a 25-second preroll.

Whereas utilizing the child’s profile, I watched one 24-minute episode of Full Home with no adverts, and it was the identical for a brief episode of Teen Titans Go. There have been no commercials throughout movies both on this profile. Competitor Disney Plus does embrace adverts whereas streaming in a child’s profile, although Max and Netflix keep away from it. Nonetheless, for those who can afford the additional $6 a month, go ad-free. 

Downloads are solely accessible on ad-free subscriptions, and speeds are pretty fast. It solely took me about 35 seconds to obtain one episode of Barry on my telephone, and a bit over 3 minutes for The Batman — a film that runs three hours. You will have the choice to pick out video high quality for downloads, selecting from “good” for quicker speeds, “higher” for higher-quality video that makes use of extra knowledge or “greatest,” which downloads at a slower charge. It is one of many areas that the Warner Bros. Discovery group labored to enhance.

After I examined the app with the premium Final subscription, I observed the expertise was the identical because the $16 ad-free model. There is a quick promo reel that includes Max films and exhibits that runs earlier than some content material, however not all. It performed earlier than Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, however not once I streamed an episode of Titans. So, for $4 extra, we get two extra simultaneous streams, all of the 4K content material and 100 downloads versus 30.

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