Streaming App Review: Portico

Update January 17, 2016: Portico channel seems to have been removed from Roku.


 

Cord-cutters find ways to watch content – whether it’s on a computer, smart phone, tablet, or TV (preferably free). It’s nice when you don’t have to watch on a smaller screen and can kick back and watch something on a regular TV.

One way to watch content on your TV if it has the HDMI ports is using a small set top box or stick that streams video from the Internet like a, Roku device, Fire TV, Apple TV,  and a number of other, lesser known set top boxes and sticks.  Many newer smart TV’s have a growing list of apps, including the one I’m going to discuss here. It’s good to do a system update on your devices and smart TV’s to see the latest apps. I’m a newb, remember – so as an amateur cord-cutter, I didn’t even know what a Roku was six months ago.

I discovered the free Portico app about a month ago and it has become one of my favorite apps.  Portico is available to watch online at PorticoTV.com and you can probably get it on just about any tablet or smart phone.  I watch it on my Roku 3 and on my Fire TV Stick, and it’s also available on Apple TV through iTunes and in the Google Play Store.  So, you don’t have to be a cord-cutter to appreciate the content on Portico.

This app has long-standing, recognizable magazines that provide videos which stream 20-30 minutes or more.  Each magazine seems to have about 6 streams available at any one time.  I’ve taken some snapshots with my iPhone to share so you get an idea.

Here you see the Portico app through my Roku 3 highlighted.

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I’d like to point out that you will see, in the row just below my Portico app in the picture above, there is an app in Roku for Saveur – a cooking magazine.  I really like the content in the Saveur app, but a big problem with it, is that you are stuck watching a commercial before every clip, even if they are only 45 seconds long.  I stopped watching the app because of that, wishing they would time commercials after so many minutes of viewing, rather than on a per clip basis.  But, Saveur is also one of the magazines in the Portico app.  Many of the same things are shown, but with very few commercials.

After you enter, the available magazines appears at the bottom. Only two rows appear at a time, but there are currently three.

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Here is what is in the last row.  I’m hoping to see more magazines added.

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Let’s look at Fields & Streams

2015-06-18 19.20.00Inside, I’ve highlighted the last video…

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Then, I pushed the play button on my Roku remote.  Joe is in Alaska fishing for Salmon.  there is some beautiful scenery from the few minutes I watched.

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Using Southern Living for an example, you can see the video play-bar. With my Roku remote I can do all the usual functions of play, pause, fast-foward, etc.  You also see this particular video is just over 16 minutes.  Sometimes, on the Roku, if I rewind, it seems to want to buffer. When that happens, I exit the app, then re-enter and Portico remembers where I left off.  I have the option of resuming or starting over.  But, this happens rarely.

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I haven’t watched this episode yet, but I will be because I love country fried apples.

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Here are some images from a few of the other magazines.   This first one is one of the Tech magazines. I like watching wing-suit videos on YouTube, so this caught my eye.  It’s the adventure of it, and the beautiful scenery often in these Go Pro videos so I’m looking forward to watching this.

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Newsy in 30 uploads a 20-30 minute newscast each weekday and one for the weekend. I have no idea which way it leans, if at all, since I’ve not watched it yet. I’m pretty sure there is an app for this, as there was for Saveur, but I think the Portico interface is very pleasing, and here again, there may be fewer commercials. 

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How about Better Homes & Gardens?  Quite a variety here. I enjoyed the Father’s Day segment.

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There are so many more pics I could have shown, but you get the idea.  Try it out on your streaming device, download the app, or just visit online.  I think it’s a look at one way we will be viewing more content in the future.

Pros:

Portico has a really appealing, easy-to-use interface and some excellent, high quality content.  The commercials are sparse, from what I have seen thus far.  Each magazine offers about 120 minutes of viewing at any one time.

Cons

There are only two regrets I have about Portico: First, almost a month has gone by and I’ve not seen much refreshed in the few magazines I’ve been in. It makes me wonder if the same content will be there in six months from now.  Better Homes & Gardens did add Fourth of July since I last seen it.  And, the News channel i featured does change daily.  So, I don’t know if this is across the board or not.  My second regret is that there aren’t more magazines, including some for kids, family, and well known money magazines, among others.  I can only hope it grows.

Update: One more con – I wish there was a way to see all of the magazines, as opposed to just two rows at a time.

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