Got Joost?

1 03 2007

YouTube… ah that little website that has caught everyones attention and caused them to be late for work. Well if you think thats a time waster, you haven’t seen anything yet.

I recently began beta testing a program called Joost (formally The Venace Project) and I’ve got to say, it has my attention. It was developed by and Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (creators of Kazaa and Skype) along with about 150 software developers starting in 2006. In a sentence, its a P2P TV application that is supposed to bring you visual media at near television resolution.
Installation

It was a pretty straight forward installation. Upon loading the application it never hung or crashed and simply started me on my cheese puffs and couch potato way.

GUI

Upon starting it launches in full screen mode and its here where you first realize that this is something different. The general idea as after you fire it up you start watching right away like a normal television. No searching for content or several transition screens. The icons are big and may lend itself perfectly to a media center remote control in the future. In fact the interface looks just like a media center application. It’s a beautiful interface and just transparent enough that it doesn’t seem to get in your way while navigating around the screen.

Video quality and content

MTV Networks will provide premier content from several of its brands for launch. MTV will offer popular shows, both past and present, including Laguna Beach, Beavis & Butthead, Real World, Punk’d and My Super Sweet Sixteen, while COMEDY CENTRAL will feature episodes from Stella, CCP’s and Freak Show. Nickelodeon, CMT: Country Music Television, MTV2, Logo, Spike TV, mtvU, and Gametrailers.com will also provide content. VH1’s offerings will include episodes of Flavor of Love, Surreal Life, and I Love New York. BET’s Networks’ offerings will include some of its biggest shows, including Beef, DMX: Soul of a Man, Comic View and recent smash hit American Gangster. Also, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage and Paramount Classics will be providing full-length feature films from its catalog of classics and recent releases. Granted none of that programing is availiable yet but it will be interesting to see what actually sticks. In the meantime Joost is saddled with late night type programing and music videos.

As far as video quality, what it can do and what it does are two different things. It is entirely based on your connection and hardware. On the low end, full screen is just slightly better than a YouTube video. Conversely, if you have a tricked out pc and fast connection, you probably won’t be able to tell much of a diffence between this and your television set.

Plugins

Joost’s plugins are simply widgets you can load in your Joost screen, and currently these include clock, feed reader, instant messaging (Jabber and Google talk are currently supported), rating plugin which enables you to rate the current clip with grades from 1 to 5, notice board, and channel chat. Developers are promising many more to come.

Conclusion

In it’s current beta stage its not perfect. Far from it in fact. It takes up a lot of system resources and it almost unusable at times on a low end machine. The content is on par with what you would see at 4am on cable, without the prime time reruns. Video quality is better than what you’ll see at most of the video streaming sites but not enough to ditch your TV.

It does show promise. If content providers jump on board and they iron out some kinks, it may just become the new YouTube. I’m willing to give it a pass solely on potential but it needs to move fast if it intends to grab todays users short attention span.

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9 responses

3 03 2007
Martin Barnier

Keep in mind the video quality isn’t just dependent on your connection, it’s also dependent on the original quality of the source. For example, check out something The People’s Champion and compare it to, for example, Snakes. Snakes has pretty nice quality.

I run a so-called low-end computer (a laptop running a celeron 1.4ghz, 64mb onboard video, 512mb ram) and the quality is above that of Youtube. It doesn’t use an incredible amount of resources (I can run my IM, Firefox, utorrent, and all my other processes at the same time). In fact, it runs less than Firefox (although I do have a number of extensions installed).

As for resolution being below TV, Joost’s default windowed size suggests a standard resolution that’s actually a little higher than SDTV.

3 03 2007
Dude Guru

Martin, thank you for your comment. You raise very good points. I neglected to mention about the video source. I may have wrongly assumed that the content from all sources would be at least shot for 480i and would not differ much when viewed on a analog screen. I also wouldn’t want to base resolution on a windowed size when its being touted as a TV alternative of sorts.

I hope you will come back from time to time and participate some more. Thanks again.

4 03 2007
Andy

Do you have any ideas of the sort of bandwidth that you need to get a decent picture? What is the suggested minimum?

I really think that Joost and the several other varieties of P2P tv that are emerging could be great, providing some big content providers jump on board sooner rather than later… I think that it’s a great (and legit for a change) use of the technology too.

I think it’s time to throw it open now though. The invite system has surely been going on for long enough, its driving me mad! – you dont have any tokens do you?

4 03 2007
Jason Williams

Andy, welcome to Infoblog 3.0 As Martin pointed out, its not just based on your connection speed but lets just say dial up would be out of the question. Anything else and you would get a satisfactory experience. I couldn’t find a suggested minimum for you Andy. Probably because they don’t want to risk alienating potential content providers.

The idea is great, its the execution thats a little shaky. Its not the first program to promise to deliver tv to your computer screen but it has managed to capture attention because of a viral marketing of sorts, first under the “The Venice Project” umbrella and then the beta token system. The program will live or die based on the content it provides and the creators understand that better than anyone. Lets just hope they don’t lose focus.

Sorry, but I don’t currently have any Joost invites to give right now (I’ve given out 4 already) but stay tuned to this blog and I’ll let you know when and if I do.

Thanks for the visit. Take a look around the place and let me know what you think.

27 03 2007
Paul Boissiere

Nice Job…..can u send me a token so I can give it a try also….
Thanks ….

28 03 2007
Chakravarthy

Sounds too good 🙂 can you send me invitation ..I will also go for a try

Regards
Chakravarthy

29 03 2007
jud

hey any invites floating around?
jud78b[at]yahoo[dot]com

29 03 2007
sidd

ya even i wanna try so i wud luv an invitation……spearhead121@yahoo.com

30 03 2007
NinjaEpisode

This looks like a great product. I’m bummed that I missed the beta! I’d love to take a closer look.

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