Online video service Pluto.tv has just released a free app for the Amazon Fire TV. The app features over 100 curated channels of continuos web videos presented in a TV guide-like interface reminiscent of traditional cable TV.
In an era of voice search and on-demand everything, Pluto.tv provides a refreshing alternative to the often monotonous chore of figuring out exactly what to watch. Launching the app puts you on the TV guide screen with the channel list in the bottom third and the last viewed channel immediately streaming above.
Controls are dead simple. In full screen mode, you can press up or down to flip through channels and press the play button to pause and restart the video. Pressing the center select button on the Fire TV remote brings up an overlay giving you more information about what you’re currently watching. Pressing the menu button toggles between full screen mode and the TV guide screen where all you can do is scroll through the channel list and select a channel. That’s it. You can’t scroll right or left in the guide or select to load a future video that isn’t currently playing. You can’t even rewind or fast forward. And that’s a good thing. Adding more control would defeat the purpose and simplicity that differentiates Pluto.tv from all the other web video apps.
Channels are grouped together in one of 10 categories, like Music, News, and Sports. Some channels are broad, like Comedy Webseries, while others are more specific, like Weird Al Yankovic which plays nothing but Weird Al music videos. The content is all ad-free, apart from the occasional 5 second clip reminding you that you’re watching Pluto.tv.
Initially, I didn’t think much of Pluto.tv. Then, once realizing an hour had past and I’d been flipping through channels being thoroughly entertained, I saw the appeal of such a service. There’s still a place for the type of traditional passive viewing that most of us grew up watching. I say install Pluto.tv, and the next time you find yourself spending 30 minutes flipping through lists of shows and movies trying to figure out what to watch, load up Pluto.tv and give it a try.