I’ve been invited onto the BBC iPlayer beta test, so here’s a quick review piece on the latest Internet media player to hit the market. Click on thumbnails for larger image.
- First impressions – front end has a snazzy Web 2.0 interface. Lots of shaded icons, big text and images, Ajax timer symbols et al.
- Internet Explorer sucks. OK, I know I should leave it alone because it’s over done to death, but having no Linux, Mac, Vista or Firefox version is pathetic. Windows Media player is likewise very average. And UK only? Hmmm….
- Image quality. The quality is OK, but compared to Joost there’s no contest in terms of full screen quality.
- Speed. Download speed is sluggish compared to alternative offerings. This highlights the hassle of having to download heavily DRM protected content vs fast streaming. It can take up to 30 seconds to locate the file you want and then anything up to an hour or more to actually download it. This is not an instant gratification service peeps.
- Content. Well it’s the BBC isn’t it? Although that saying, the stuff that’s currently available is hardly top drawer. More like B grade stuff mostly which is probably something to do with license issues. OK, and so it’s also a beta test.
- Usability. The separation of the library function from the content catalogue sucks. You need to access the iPlayer site to view what’s available rather than just viewing it from your library directly. This is clearly an issue with using the Windows Media system, and it is nasty.
- Overall experience. Very average.
Sorry but this is not a great product. It’s restricted, slow, cumbersome and based on some very nasty technology. In fact if it wasn’t the BBC, it wouldn’t get the time of day anywhere else. It shares the same technology as the Sky Anytime player which is also a staggeringly unimpressive service and to be honest if this is the best that conventional television can do to compete with the new Internet television services, then they’re doomed, because good content will very soon start to migrate to the fast growing global services. And that’ll be game over for this type of stilted parochial technology.