View Full Version : BBC iPlayer First Impressions

July 28th, 2007, 11:25 AM
I heard on the radio the other day that the iPlayer would be released on friday and, as I still have an XP partition that rarely sees the light of day, I decided to check it out.

My main observation so far is that they really make you jump through hoops for the service. I had to request a public beta pass which arrived about 10 hours later. I booted XP and went to the Beeb page where I put in my password and was immediately told that I couldn't use Firefox. I went back with IE and browsed the programmes available but when I tried to download Hyperdrive I got a confusing message saying that I didn't have the correct software. However it listed Windows, IE, and Media Player all with green ticks next to them. Luckily I remembered that it needs Media Player 10 and I discovered I'm still using 9 (We are spoilt by Apts update manager you know). That needed downloading, installing, and all the configuring firewall etc that is required. I went back to the Beeb page and tried again. This time it told me I needed the iPlayer library app which I had to download, install, configure, etc. After this it started downloading. I have downloaded 2 episodes of Hyperdrive which took about 45 min. The iPlayer irritatingly also downloaded a whole load of short WMVs each containing those stupid little idents with people dancing or flying kites with BBC channel logos. You know the ones.

The quality of the video isn't all that good. It is quite grainy which doesn't seem necessary when 30min DIVXs of 180meg can be a whole lot better. I haven't tried accessing these WMVs from Ubuntu yet but that is next on my list of stuff to do.

I have to say that I find Bittorrent to be a whole lot simpler to use with the added advantage that the files can then be re-encoded for PDA viewing or whatever else you want to do with it. This whole DRM business seems a bit pointless in this case because all these videos have been transmitted already so if I wanted to I could have got a much better digital copy through my tv card which wouldn't have had any DRM restrictions on it. The fact that I can watch/record a perfect digital video when it is broadcast but then have to jump through hoops in order to watch a badly compressed download copy seems annoying and stupid. I will probably stick to Torrents for the time being because: the quality is generally better, I can use Ubuntu for it, I can watch the files on my PDA if I want to, I don't need to remember passwords and stuff to do it.

I apologise if this seems to be irrelevant for Ubuntu users but I thought it would be appropriate to post because of all the community anger about the BBCs choice to release it for windows first. I am still annoyed by that but having used the iPlayer I no longer feel that we are missing anything particularly special.

July 28th, 2007, 12:53 PM
I signed up for my pass yesterday, still no reply. Seeing your review and the reviews of some of my friends makes think why did the BBC even bother? They have been harrassed from the start for making it Windows (XP) only, full of DRM, crap quality, confusing set up/dependency finding (WMP 9/10 thing). They really shouldnt have bothered and just made a simple DemocracyTV like Torrent based system with proper quality media, in Ogg Video Format.

July 28th, 2007, 02:48 PM
I installed XP in VMware to see this and 4oD. Anyone who's been to TPB won't be using them in a hurry. I also have MythTV, which negates the need for these also, as I never miss anything I want to see. Also, the Beeb has put out very little in new original stuff lately, and I read the other day the plan on showing more repeats; most likely not the stuff we want to see anyway.

By far the best weekly show I see is Diggnation anyway...