Lightbox on a laptop

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, the little people in our household get a bit restless. I took the opportunity to sign up to Lightbox – Spark’s new TV streaming service which launched earlier this week. For any kind of online entertainment my bottom line is that it has to be quick and easy to sign-up, simple to use, free of tech issues, and above all have some content that will appeal to the whole family.

Sign-up was super easy – an email address, a credit card and away we went. One of the features of Lightbox is that you can run it on up to 5 devices (iPad or computer) under your one account. I got Ms 7 going on the iPad, set up a profile for her which restricted her from viewing any content other than ‘G’ rated and let her have a decent play. She quickly got the hang of scrolling round, and had selected a few shows she was interested in – Penguins of Madagascar and an art and craft show. There was a bit of fiddling around with Silverlight to watch programs on my Mac laptop, but a simple download got that sorted. A quick look at the Lightbox Facebook Page shows a few teething issues, but the team seem to be responding promptly to customers and keeping everyone updated despite the night-time and weekend hours which is a good sign.

Lightbox has no ads – that’s right, no pre-rolls, no interspersed advertisements in between episodes, no sneaky pop-ups to interrupt your viewing experience. This makes watching an episode quite snackable – great for kids when you want to fill in 20 minutes while you get dinner sorted. There is quite a large Pre-School category filled with programmes such as Wiggles, Charlie and Lola, Blues Clues, Pingu and a whole heap of other shows that will appeal to parents of toddlers and pre-school aged children. I’ve started watching Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, and I’m eyeing up the Mad Men series after that. Exclusive shows on Lightbox include Vikings and Outlander but there are 5,000 hours of TV to watch if you are so inclined (!!).

You can watch Lightbox shows on two devices at the same time – great for keeping the kids occupied on G-rated shows while I plug my laptop into the TV for grown-up HD viewing on the big screen. The portability of it means that presumably you can take your iPad or laptop away on NZ holiday or over to the grandparents house, and provided you have sufficient internet access you can keep watching shows under your account which is very handy.

Lightbox streams the shows using your broadband and the quality will depend on your connection (it will automatically adjust for you). Ours streamed HD no problem, and in case you are wondering about how much data this will use, the Help section says “If you were running at full quality for an hour a day, you’d be using around 70 GB per month.”

Spark is offering a 30-day free trial for launch – definitely worth it if you are sick of those ‘reality’ renovation, cooking and singing shows invading your living room. If the content takes your fancy, this is very low risk – you are not tied to any fixed term contracts so you can quit if you decide it is not for you.

Sound good? You can sign up for your 30-day free Lightbox trial here.

This post was made possible thanks to Lightbox – opinions are all mine.