Joost’s beta – first impressions

I have received a beta account for Joost at long last. Joost is the new initiative from Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis of Skype fame.

I can’t describe the service any better that than the way they do so here it is:

“Joost™ is a new way of watching TV on the internet, which uses new and established technologies to provide the best of both the internet and TV worlds. We’re in the process of making it as TV-like as we can, with programmes, channels and adverts. You can also see some things that we think will enhance the TV experience: searching for programmes and channels, for example, as well as social features like chat. There are many more new features to come!”

Here are a few screens from the service itself as running on my XP machine.

Click on the picture for full size images.

This is the Preferences menu and seems to be mainly concerned with time related issues with the user interface. What is of most interest to me – the connections options – I could not find at all! It may have been just me!

Clicking on the My Channels icon on the left-hand side of the screen brings up my favourite channels menu which you can scroll up and down with your mouse. I noticed some issues with stuttering of the sound when I moved my mouse around. This is a new machine so I’m not sure what causes this. Feels like a typical Windows problem with streaming services.

I think this could be caused by the focus being on another application when you are running Joost as a background window.

When you want to add a channel, you just click the option and up pops the selection menu that overlays the video. As this is created using the downloaded Joost client, all these option selections present themselves promptly with zero hesitation. Being not network based is a surprise but is the right way to go I think.

It’s possible to bring up a featured channel catalog to see what’s new. Interestingly, much of the content I’ve brought up so far is from the USA and certainly the spelling is US – as can be seen by the spelling of the word ‘catalogue’. It’s still a beta I guess, but I would need more relevant content to attract me to use the service extensively.

This is the Indy channel which is shown in Window mode. A click on a button takes it to full screen. Again, I haven’t examined all the content, but the quality of the video on a full size screen is inadequate – it certainly seems to be less than 2mbit/s and not particularly good to look at close up as you can see in the picture.

In fact, it seems fairly typical of most streamed video that you come across on the net.

My first impressions so far are:

  • the look and feel of the channel selection menus are really great and a pleasure to use.
  • I was disappointed as I expected to be able to get a better quality video stream from Joost than other streaming services but this doesn’t seem to be the case. I don’t know whether all the channels are encoded at the same data rate and use the same compression algorithm, but if so, it will limit the time I spend with the service.
  • Joost did lose its connection with the server several times while I was fiddling around – I don’t know where the beta server is located. As I mentioned in my recent post – MPLS and the limitations of the Internet, if I sat down to watch a film and this happened I would not find it acceptable.
  • In the preferences menu, I could not find anything to do with setting up the Internet connection at all. As a consumer service this may be OK, but I find it disconcerting not to be able to manage the basics of the connection speed myself. Maybe I want to restrict the bandwidth Joost uses if I had a limited bandwidth connection. The corollary of this is that Joost always takes as much bandwidth from your connect as it needs. If so that’s a worry and a worry to businesses as well.

I’ll try and do some more tests done over the next few days to get a better feel. By the way, as I type this post up, if I type fast enough, the Joost application stalls until I stop.

Addendum #1:

Using Windows Task Manager, Joost seems to be delivering its service to me at 1mbit/s which is about what I would have guessed from the quality. As I have 8mbit/s it would have been nice to take delivery at a higher rate so that it would be possible to look at National Geographic at full screen.

Oh well, back to the TV!

Addendum #2: A recent Silicon.com post articulated the challenge that could face the Internet with the advent of IPTV quite well:

Ferguson also suggested new, bandwidth-intensive services such as IPTV have the potential to cause even slower broadband speeds. “A provider only needs around 1.5 per cent of users to make use of, say, the BT Vision product at the same time to use up all the capacity,” he said.

He added: “The UK does not yet have the infrastructure to support millions watching EastEnders via broadband at the same time,” because of the high cost of retaining spare network capacity for times when online traffic is high.

So true…

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5 Responses to Joost’s beta – first impressions

  1. awray says:

    Great read! I can’t wait for Joost, as it will be no doubt revolutionary. Do you have an invite you could perhaps spare :)

    Ta ta!

  2. Boxy says:

    Hi,

    This joost sounds very interesting. Do you have any invites? If so could i please have one.

    Cheers

  3. Chrisg says:

    Sorry guys, no spare passwords!

  4. [...] television channel recently launched by Skype founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis – Joost’s beta – first impressions and it’s interesting to note that as a peer-to-peer system it does require significant chunks [...]

  5. [...] we were talking about ubiquitous coverage, many thought they could jump in a cab and watch Joost streaming video as they weaved their way around the city“. Oh, it didn’t work then I [...]

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