Archive for the ‘Net TV’ Category

Internet TV: 10 UK on-demand and live video offerings compared

Last time we surveyed the UK’s live and on-demand Internet TV landscape (back in July 07), it was a bare-bones affair. The BBC’s iPlayer was Windows-only and hadn’t yet launched out of private beta, while rival broadcaster offerings were lacking content and, like the iPlayer itself, crippled by DRM and the need to install additional and sometimes conflicting software.

How things have changed.

Today, TV watching Brits are spoilt with choice when it comes to live and on-demand online from the 6 main UK broadcasters, along with a number of aggregators, including the newly launched SeeSaw, the closest yet to the US Hulu.

Read on for our full guide:

1. BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayerBBC iPlayer has the most helpfully laid out video on demand site in the UK. However, the newer version of the site (currently on show at adds to this with an impressive new design. As ever, there is access to a TV schedule so you can find what was on when, for each channel.

The front page of the site has a small section that displayes featured programmes in each genre. However, clicking the “Show All” button takes you to a full listing for that genre. Down the side category pages are a list of all categories, which when clicked expand to show a list of sub-categories, and how many programmes are in each. Each of these pages have options to list programmes by how recently they were broadcast, or as a full A-Z list.

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TVCatchup streams to mobile as broadcasters aim to spoil the party

TVCatchup running on NokiaAs promised, we’re keeping you up to date with the latest happenings at TVCatchup.

Last week TVCatchup opened a private beta for streaming live TV to Blackberry, Android and Symbian phones. (Update: Palm webOS too.) However, they announced on their official forums today that the beta was going public for anyone to test the service.

To access the mobile streaming version, point your phone’s browser to:

According to the TVCatchup forums, Vodafone is not supporting their streams, and judging from Twitter, there seems to be mixed results on other mobile networks. Clearly, streaming video data will clog up mobile networks, so we recommend users to stick to WiFi, on which the service works well.

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With iPad out of the way, AppleTV to get some love?

Remember Steve Jobs’ hobby?

Yes, I’m talking about the AppleTV, Cupertino’s long neglected set-top box. Well, apparently, it’s been getting some love after all, reports Engadget.

A completely revamped version is in the works that ditches the current AppleTV OS in favour of something more akin to the iPhone/iPad with, presumably, a similar third-party developer model so that apps can be supported. If so, this is something we’ve been asking for since the original AppleTV launched.

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TVCatchup ups its game for the World Cup

TVCatchup, the UK TV streaming service, announced on Twitter today that they are introducing low and high quality streams along side their standard quality stream. Their tweets suggest that this is the first in a series of updates to coincide with this year’s World Cup tournament.

TVCatchup viewers can access the new streams by heading to the channels page, and then choose from the three links on the top-right corner of the channel grid. Other streaming services we’ve looked at have stream quality controls within the video player itself, allowing for in-situ bitrate adjustment. Hopefully this is something TVCatchup can add later.

TVCatchup engineers are still fine tuning the new streams as this post is being written. Although we’ve tested the streams and everything seems to be running well.

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About bloody time, Google TV is finally here [video]

At Google’s developer conference I/O, the search giant finally unveiled its much anticipated Google TV, an Internet-connected set-top box or TV set powered by Android and the Chrome browser, with an app marketplace open to third-party developers.

It’s designed to bring Internet content to the living room (“TV meets web. Web meets TV” is the slogan) that can be, optionally, overlayed over existing broadcast content channels.

“We’re working together with Sony and Logitech to put Google TV inside of televisions, Blu-ray players and companion boxes. These devices will go on sale this fall”, says Google.

I haven’t really had time to fully digest the details, but we’ve been tracking Google’s TV ambitions for a very, very long time (hint: it’s all about search and advertising). But for now, I’ll leave you with the intro video from the search giant itself, which is appropriately hosted on YouTube.

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Zattoo turns off BBC streams, could TVCatchup be forced to do the same?

Following a request from the public broadcaster, Internet TV app Zattoo has stopped carrying the BBC’s content.

Although only available to viewers in the UK, Zattoo was able to live stream all of the BBC channels because, it argued, of what is effectively a legal loophole.

From our previous coverage:

Because each channel carries a public service remit, under section 73 of the UK Copyright Act, cable operators can re-transmit broadcasts live and uninterrupted without first seeking permission. Zattoo is effectively piggybacking the existing cable television provision.

Interestingly, along with pressure from the Beeb, Zattoo tells paidContent that it also paves the way for the service to launch a browser-based version alongside its existing desktop client. So in that sense, it may be partly a commercial decision, as presumably Zattoo doesn’t feel its legal defense holds enough water when competing with the BBC’s own browser-based iPlayer.

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Virgin Media launches movie streaming service – rentals-only

Virgin Media has launched its own browser-based movie streaming service, available to anybody in the UK not just the cable provider’s own subscribers.

It’s a pretty bog standard VOD affair: movies are available for rental-only, with prices for new releases set at £3.99 for 48 hours access once you press play.

Picture quality-wise, we’ve yet to test the service but we do know that the video streaming is powered by Microsoft’s Silverlight technology and that two different streams are being offered. ‘Normal’ quality is unspecified, while ‘High Quality’ is pegged at 1.8 Mbit/s.

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Review: TVCatchup – Streaming live TV to your browser

tvcatchup frontpage

TVCatchup is a UK-only VoD site with a difference. When the site launched in late 2007, TVCatchup offered live streams of UK Freeview TV channels, along with the ability to record programmes. Unfortunately, copyright concerns saw TVCatchup withdraw their site, until relaunching, sans PVR functionality, in late 2008 (Source).

In its current form, TVCatchup is very simple, offering only live streams of almost all UK Freeview (free to-air) channels. The website gives a list of all available channels which can be clicked on to view. Better still, there is a TV/PVR like programme guide, showing a horizontal timeline of what’s on currently, and allows you to go forward (and back) in time to see what’s coming up. It also allows users to drag and drop TV channels into any order they like. However, there’s no EPG data available. Along with the channel list, there is a tab giving access to UK Freeview radio stations, this is in a testing phase, and during this review the audio player loaded but didn’t stream any audio. We’re sure this will be fixed soon though.

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The Gadget Show Live: Forget iPad, supersize your iPhone says Elonex

“What is an iPad? An iPad is basically a big iPhone”, argued Nick Smith, Elonex CEO at last week’s The Gadget Show Live.

“Err, it’s a bit more than that”, I replied, before politely indulging in a product pitch for the company’s iDock XL, a portable 10inch screen that houses an iPhone (or iPod touch) and displays any video content coming from the device. It’s available for pre-order and costs £149.

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Review: MSN Video Player mixes it up with classic TV, news & gossip

MSN Video Player Front PageMSN Video Player is Microsoft’s offering into the video on demand (VoD) market, which launched last month in the UK. It’s reported to have launched with around 1000 hours of content, licensed from various sources. However, Microsoft hasn’t cut the type of deals with UK broadcasters required to enable MSN Video Player to be a way to catch up on recent TV.

The bulk of content on MSN Video player is made of back catalogue TV shows, although there is other material. The ‘Clips’ section, has sub-categories of: News, Viral, Celebrity, Sport, Gaming and “MSN Originals”. The sports content is further broken up into individual sports, but don’t get excited, as it’s just a long string of interviews with players and coaches. Viral and Celebrity videos are self-explanatory, but don’t expect to find any deep or insightful content. The news videos are quite useful, and are taken directly from ITN and MSN’s own news service. The “TV clips” and “MSN Originals” categories seem to overlap somewhat with the Celebrity videos, and are all quite random in topic and duration

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