Where do you turn when you want to watch a film? You might flick on the TV, pop on a DVD, or make use of a Netflix subscription, you might even head off to the cinema.
But what about those times when you’re looking for something a little different, but don’t want to spend a fortune? This is where SnagFilms could help, bringing a collection of independent films from around the world to your Windows 8 desktop.
When you first launch the app, you may feel a little underwhelmed. By default, the Featured section is displayed and you’d expect to have the cream of the filmic crop to be pointed out to you. The first time I used the app only two films were highlighted, and this hardly inspires confidence.
But thankfully, the selection of films that’s on offer does not end there. Before you get started, it’s a good idea to use your Facebook account to sign into the app. It’s worth taking care during the sign in process as it’s all too easy to click the Allow button when the Permissions screen appears – be aware that this will allow the app to automatically publish to your wall, but it’s not compulsory.
By linking SnagFilm to your Facebook account, even if you decide to skip the auto-sharing option, you would imagine that you would be given the option of sharing details of films you discover on a manual basis, but this appears not to be the case.
To find more films to browse through you can either scroll to the right, or click the zoom out – button at the lower right of the screen to see an overview of the available categories.
You’ll find that there is a degree of duplication between the categories, but there are certainly more films on offer than first impressions might suggest.
SnagFilm In Action
As you browse through the catalogue, you can click any title to view details such as the synopsis, cast and crew information, and more. Here, things are neatly set out – just as things are throughout the rest of the app – and it’s easy to find out everything you might want to know about a film to help you to decide if it is the one for you.
Sadly, there is no option to view film trailers or previews. This is something of a shame as when you hit the play button on the film itself you first have to sit through an advertisement.
When you’re settling down to watch a film in its entirety, it’s something fairly insignificant, but it is somewhat annoying if you just want to skip through a video to get an idea of what to expect from it.
When you’ve selected which title you’d like to watch, and you’ve endured the commercial, you can sit back and watch in full screen glory. Video quality is generally very high, but this does vary from one film to another.
There are very simple playback controls that pop into view when your move the mouse. Play and pause can be activated with the on-screen button, but you can also use the spacebar if you find this easier. In terms of navigation, things are more limited.
The progress bar is fairly unresponsive meaning that it is not possible to jump to a particular point in a film, and you’re left having to work with the fast forward and rewind button to skip back and forth 30 seconds at a time. When you hit play, the controls take a second or two too long to disappear and this can be irksome.
There are not many other options to concern yourself with. You can right click whilst a video is playing and then pin the current film to your Start screen – although this is not something you’re likely to do with many title.
You can also add film to My Films, a new category that will be create the first time you select this option. This works as a bookmarking system and can be used to quickly access the films you’re watching from within the app itself.
Providing you’re not expecting to see any blockbuster films – although you never know how some releases may progress in the future – then you’re not going to be disappointed. Sure, there’s some garbage on here, but the same can said of Netflix and Blockbuster.
SnagFilm is undoubtedly going to suffer some criticism simply because of the fact that virtually all of the titles on offer are completely unknown – but that’s entirely the point.
At the moment, the range of films on offer is rather limited, but as the app gains a larger following, this is sure to increase. It is early days for SnagFilm, but things are looking good and this is definitely an app to keep an eye on.