The best TV on the Web
- — 05 August, 2008 13:10
Joost was one of the earliest aggregators, and today the site boasts roughly 28,000 TV shows and more than 480 channels. Mind you, many of those shows and channels aren't top-of-the-charts programming, and not all are long-form content (meaning, the equivalent of a 30-minute or 1-hour TV episode).
Now in beta 1.7, Joost remains in transition. The company had to shut down its discussion forums (which were linked to content) because it is developing a Web-browser based version of the software. Before watching any content, you have to install the Joost player — which can be annoying given its need for outgoing ports (it conflicted with my installation of BitDefender, for example).
Because Joost runs in the background and uses peer-to-peer networking to facilitate downloads, you can exhaust your available bandwidth quickly. Joost says that its application will gauge your available bandwidth and dial-down usage accordingly, but its site also still cautions against bandwidth overuse.
Channels are sorted by show or network or production company (for example. Beverly Hills, 90210 or Comedy Central or Warner Brothers). The channels mix up full episodes and short clips — annoying if you're looking for one over the other.
The site's presentation of video choices is highly graphical and visual, thanks to thumbnails and large fonts that stand out from the page. But the interface needs help: It's not always clear which episode you're clicking or what else is available for a given show.
Browsing by channel quickly gets wearisome, as you have to page through 40-something pages of thumbnails, with no clear indication of whether full episodes or clips lie beneath the thumbnail for a given content channel. Original Star Trek episodes (again, supplied by CBS), for example, simply state "Star Trek: The Original Series - Errand of M" (the "ercy" gets cut off from the screen).
MySpace TV feels more like McTV, rife with snippets and short doses of content rather than full episodes of TV shows. Hulu supplies the full episodes, with language skewed to the teen set ("booyah" and "no way" substitute something else for the 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' icons provided for rating videos). MySpace deserves notice for publishing some original-content Webisodes, but beyond that it has nothing you can't get elsewhere.