How it works
Once you log into Aereo, you get a list of all available broadcast stations in your market. I was able to get about 30 stations, including all the major national networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, and CW—as well as more niche-oriented fare, such as Bloomberg business news, a few nostalgia channels (MeTV and Cozi) that show classic TV reruns, two shopping channels, and a few kids' stations, including PBS Kids. There were also several Spanish-language channels, including Telemundo, and a few Asian-language stations.
The Aereo interface may look a bit different depending on the browser and device you're using, but it works similarly across all of them. When you first log in, you'll land on the guide and the featured screen. You simply scroll through the listing and click on one to watch it or record it. The guide provides up to two weeks worth of future programming for you to record.
To optimize performance, you can vary the video quality of the shows that are streaming. Aereo actually makes copies of the show you're watching, each in a different bit rate. (Unless you choose to save them, recordings are automatically deleted when you're done watching a show to free up your available recording space.) The lowest setting is best for mobile devices that connect via a cellular service, while the medium rate is optimized for most Wi-Fi connections.
The highest video quality is reserved for those with faster broadband connections. Since my broadband speed is typically in the 30-Mbps range, I was able to choose the highest-quality option, which produced a nice sharp picture. You're able to manually select the video quality you'll receive, or you can opt for the Auto setting which selects the best bit rate depending on available bandwidth.
Three main tabs appear at the top left of the home page: Featured, which shows highlighted shows; Guide, which provides a list of the shows that are currently on, plus a grid with upcoming programs on all the available channels; and Recordings, where you can view or delete any of your recordings, as well set the priority levels of these shows. (When you click on a show, you have the option of recording just a single episode, all episodes, or just the new ones.)
You can manage most of Aereo's operations via the Settings icon in the top-right corner of the screen. This is where you can check your connection speed, view account details, access Facebook or Twitter, see billing info, and change your password. It's also where you can customize the guide with the channels you want to see. (Using the Roku I found this feature counterintuitive, as clicking on the "Show Channel +" tag actually removes the channel from the lineup, while clicking "Hide Channel -" adds it.) There are also icons for search, checking your antenna (and DVR) status, and a news feed that provides info on upcoming shows.