Customer Reviews: The Great Courses
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on November 6, 2013
UPDATE: 2/9/2016
This update is overdue. I certainly meant my dissatisfaction (below) when I wrote it and in fact I got the Great Courses to refund me my streaming courses and send them to me in DVD form. (which I was really unhappy about because I have to store them now.) But since that time, they have clearly put some large expense in improving the app and upgraded it. And the update is a big improvement. You can stream really well to your device and even download (which I really really enjoy) the individual courses to my device to watch later offline. And then you can delete them at that time. So, I have returned to buying the courses (and I buy a lot) as digital streaming courses which saves me money and I don't have to store the courses physically anymore. You can even download the course manual to your device. I don't see anyway to delete that from my device after I'm done with the course though. So, my discontent has really LARGELY dissolved and I have returned to being a happy customer of this company and I would recommend this app and this company to anyone at this time.

I have been a long time customer of the great courses and have bought many of their courses--in dvd format--which I thought was great--but now I have a storage problem in my house. So, when they first advertised the streaming of the courses, I was thrilled and I bought those. And I was especially thrilled that I could use my new kindle hd to watch them--no more getting out my bulky laptop. Then a few weeks ago I can't log into the great courses website anymore from my kindle hd--and that is where the real frustration starts for me. I'm told to use this app (which was only recently compatible with the hd) instead. (They told me this at the time that it wasn't compatible). Now, the app is compatible, but it doesn't work. A few minutes into a course, it flies to the end of the lecture and you're done. If you continue on to the website from the app, the same thing happens. Now, I don't know if this is a Amazon problem or a Great Courses problem, but I want the problem fixed. If this is the method they intend me to access content I bought from them, it should work. I can tell you that Amazon tries to help you, I know because I called them when I couldn't access the website anymore and they spent over an hour grant to help me and then put in a request to upscale the app, so that I could get it. So, I think it's a great courses problem. The only recourse I now have is to access their AUSTRAILA website so that I can log in from my kindle fire hd and then stream. I then emailed them yesterday saying that the app jumped you to the end of the lecture, and they emailed back saying the lecture performed fine for them online--so it's your problem is the take away from that exchange I guess. I love this company's lectures and I've paid them plenty of money--but technology should work. And they need to make this to work. After I discovered the app was now available for me, I stupidly bought yet another online course with them, and then discovered to my dismay that the app does not work. My bad. I hope they can get a hold of themselves because my purchases are likely to cease with them in the future.
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on July 12, 2013
I hope this review becomes obsolete. I own many of the TC courses, and own 3 tablets, 2 of which are Kindles, 1 Nexus 10.

The app worked well at first, I was delighted. But it kept crashing, and did not leave off where I last was. I hope there is a fix to make it stable as I prefer to watch the courses on a tablet than a PC. When it worked, it was exactly what I was hoping for. It never crashes when on a laptop in Windows. It also does not crash on the IPAD, which I have tested.
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on January 4, 2015
Great instructions! I am thinking about buying other cooking series from this program. The downside is i am getting inundated with sales stuff. Both on my email account and in the mail. Way too much. It is a great program, don't turn people away from it by driving them craxzy with junk mail and spam. Word of mouth should be enough to keep your sales up.
I ordered the DVD with book. I would not order this any other way, but that is just me. I am not great on using downloads. I like having a physical product in my hands. Though I did get free streaming with my DVD's so that was a bonus.
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on October 14, 2013
This link was supposed to enable me to stream courses I had bought onto my Kindle Fire Hi-Definition. I had previously been able to stream courses to my Kindle easily and effortlessly. After a recent Kindle Silk "Upgrade", I was no longer able to do this. I called both Amazon and The Great Course tech support several times and was told this free app would solve my problem. It didn't.

It's now been five weeks, and I still cannot watch these courses on my Kindle Fire as I could before. I keep being told that they are all "working on it." All I can say is ARGH!!!
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on December 21, 2013
The developers of this app have a ton of work to do. I suggest that they delete the this and start over because all the current version does is annoy their customers. Amazon, are you listening? For a company that prides itself on customer service, you have made a mistake with this partnership.

The interface displays incorrectly on my phone (titles and buttons cut off), the lecture stops as soon as my screen goes to sleep, and the lecture starts at the beginning every time regardless of where you left off (or were cut off!).

Don't bother downloading this unless you are a glutton for punishment.
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on December 2, 2013
I've been a fan of The Great Courses for several years now, so I was excited when I found out that a streaming app was available for my Kindle Fire HD. However, I'm going to have to wait for an update to this app before I stop buying the DVDs and replace them with video streaming. I just finished watching two video lectures for a course I recently purchased, and I'm not very happy with the experience. I haven't listened to an audio stream yet--if I do, I'll update the review, but I rarely stream audio.

Connects seamlessly with your account. It took just a few seconds to log in and see both audio and video available for streaming.

Nice display for the courses--pictures with the covers, and they're easy to read.

At this point in time there is only minimal organization available for your file. You can sort by purchase date or alphabetically. You can filter audio/video or see both. But there is no way to categorize the courses yet.

You can download and read the course guide in the app.

The controls need more work. You can pause/play, expand to full screen, and it has a slide control and a replay 10 sec button, so most of the controls you need are there, but they're awkward to use. They work, but sometimes it takes several tries and some patience to get them to respond.

The video quality was just okay. It isn't a sharp picture and it stuttered a bit. Granted the stuttering may have been my internet connection, but I streamed something from Netflix shortly before and it seemed fine, and I didn't have any problems after, so I suspect the problem is not with my internet.

Here's what irritated me the most: both lectures that I listened to cut off before the end. They were very close to the end--within 30 seconds, but they did not end naturally. I just let the first lecture pass, but I decided to try to hear the very end of the second lecture and I could not. I tried three times total and it cut off in different places. The finicky controls do not make it easy to repeat the last few minutes of a lecture, so I finally gave up. Still, I only missed a few of the closing words.

OVERALL: If you like to watch/listen to The Great Courses (something I *highly* recommend) then you will probably want this app to avoid having to stream from your computer (depending on how comfortable that setup is or is not). I expect the app will be updated and improved (The Great Courses is very good about that--they're constantly improving) and will make this review out of date. But as of now, it's not quite time to give up the DVDs in favor of streaming.
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on March 23, 2016
I am a big fan of The Great Courses in general, and my satisfaction with their products has only increased since I began using their app. I understand that there have been a fair number of complaints about earlier versions, so I guess I'm a latecomer to this party. In any case, it seems to work pretty well right now.

Personally, I like having hard copies, so most of the courses I own are either on CD or DVD. Nowadays, though, they offer free digital streaming no matter what format you purchase. So when I bought my new Fire 7 tablet, I immediately began downloading all the courses I had not yet listened to. The convenience is incredible. I don't even have to wait for my courses to ship anymore--I can listen to them today! I don't even need an internet connection after I download them. Considering that I didn't even ask for the ability to download my courses when I bought them, this is a great bonus.

I have a few suggestions for future versions. I find the playback controls somewhat insensitive. Not infrequently, I need to tap the play/pause button or the 10-second rewind multiple times before I get a response. (I don't seem to have this problem with most of my Fire apps.) Also, the app seems to forget which lectures I've already listened to and (sometimes) where I left off within a particular lecture. And I would like it if the course guidebooks could be downloaded to my SD card, as is possible with the app itself and the lectures. Since I suspect that's not possible, I would settle for the ability to delete course guides that have already been downloaded.

Teaching Company, keep up the good work!
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on August 17, 2015
Check the dates.

This app has a ton of five star and one star reviews. If you look through the reviews you can see a pattern with when people were rating it.

In 2013 and through the first half of 2014, this app sucked. Somewhere in the August/September timeframe, the ratings go up to four of five stars and continue that way through 2015.

My personal experience is in line with what most reviewers have said. It was nearly unusable in early 2014. I forgot about the app until my wife tried it a month ago. It's a night and day difference. It's now August 2015 and it works quite well for those of us with accounts with the Teaching Company's Great Courses series. All the lectures and videos I've purchased from the Teaching Company are easily available for watching and downloading.

Users need to understand that the app is free, but that doesn't mean the lectures are. This is just a way to access the courses you buy from the Teaching Company.
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on May 12, 2014
I have a Kindle Fire 1st generation and cannot stream audio or visual courses with the app. I was able to do it on my Kindle without the app just using the web but not consistently. The great courses are great but the app is not.
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on June 2, 2014
I should have listened to the other negative reviews. I could not even play one second of the video. I reported the issue to The Teaching Company, but got a "form letter" reply about what steps to try if streaming content doesn't work. It seems like they should be responding to these complaints with a message like, "We're aware of the issues with the Kindle Fire app, and we plan to release a new version on....."
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