Time Warner Cable's new iPad app (originally detailed here) requires users to jump through several hoops of varying difficulty just to log in for the first time. In this case, at least, that persistence can pay off, as the end result is a streaming-video product that may be a new killer app for the iPad and eventually other tablets.
The difficult setup process stems from this: We're entering an era of stratification, or even fragmentation, of multimedia IPTV services and apps. It may have started with Web sites (such as BBC.co.uk) restricting what online video streams viewers could see depending on what country their IP addresses came from; now it's moved on to a series of tablet apps that play high-end content, but only if you're connecting through the right ISP.
Like ESPN on the Xbox 360 or the brand-new WatchESPN app for iOS, or the similar Optimum cable TV app, the TWCable TV app lets you tune in to a premium selection of cable TV content, as long as you're connecting through an approved ISP and, in the case of Time Warner, through an approved cable modem (the one connected with your user account).
As a Time Warner customer for at least a decade (although I was unsuccessfully hoping for some new options, such as Fios, when I moved recently), I didn't expect to have too much trouble getting the app to work. Unfortunately, signing in requires more than connecting through the Internet access point of an eligible subscriber (although, if you think about it, that hardware lockout is really all that's needed). I was asked to log in to the app with my Time Warner Cable username and password.
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If you're a TWCNYC (as my local Time Warner Cable subsidiary is called) customer and you pay your bill online, you might think you already have a username and password. You would, in the Kafkaesque world of cable companies, be incorrect. You actually have a separate username and password for a payment system called PayXpress that stands apart from any other user account.
And, as a TWCNYC Internet access subscriber, you also have (but have probably never used) your included e-mail account, which is usually firstname.lastname@example.org (for back when the service was called Road Runner). It's not a big deal that you've never heard of, or used, that account, because that's not the one you need, either. … Read more