I’ve been a member Joost beta program for a couple of days now and I have had the chance to browse through the early content and watch some of the offered shows. I thought it only fair that I share some of my initial impressions.
*** Edit – I thought I’d reorganize this a little so the people just looking for invites could get to that quicker. ***
I almost forgot. If you need an invite, please feel free to leave a comment. Make sure to enter your email address, it will not show up in the comments and I wil not give it to anyone other than Joost when I send your invite to you.
*** /Edit – On to the review ***
The sign up and installation was a snap. The client is a fairly small download in install, it’s nice when that is the case. The invite itself had a serialized link that let me get to the download page. The sign up itself was in the software, not on the web page so I could have downloaded it and waited for a while had I been so inclined.
Next was the initial experience. Loading it up I now had to create my account. It only required basic information, again easy and simple. At this point my thoughts on the interface were that it was very “Flash” like in its operation. So far it was clean and simple, good job!
Once I was logged in I was able to look through the offered channels, available programs, recommendations and more. I must say that the interface continued to impress me. It is quite simple and intuitive. Objects fade in or out rapidly, but with enough delay to make it look smooth. The same goes for objects that slide in or out from the side. Nice!
There are some customization features that allow you to keep widgets active while you’re viewing a program if you like. The clock of course is my favorite one, however the inclusion of embedded Google Talk is nice.
The early programming is nice. There is a decent variety from documentaries (The National Geographic Channel) to music videos (Warner Bros. channel), comedy (Comedy Central), sports and more. I hope that more become available as this gets closer to a production service.
At this point I had to start remembering that this is still in beta. Some of the programs I tried to access simply did not seem to work. I would get the message that it was “Coming up next”, however it would just sit there with no indication of what was going on.
Other programs did work and they were nice. For the most part the video was smooth, the controls were once again nice and easy to use. In my opinion the quality was better that other streaming video content I’ve interacted with.
It also seems as the content is in constant change. That is nice and a huge plus for a service such as this!
As I mentioned, this is a beta phase and as such one should expect small anomalies. So far that’s all I’ve had, is small ones. First, it did not remember my personal information the first 3 times I went in. It was a minor annoyance since all I had to do was type my name and email address, but still it was an annoyance. Now it seems to have that information tucked away just fine.
Next, as I mentioned before, is the phenomena of some of the shows just sitting there is a bit annoying. It would be nice to have a little more information about what’s going on. It’s crashed on me twice so far. that’s not too bad for beta. Once was during one of those moments of “Coming Up Next” episodes.
It seems that Joost is trying to become a serious TV content provider / alternative to satellite and cable. I am not certain that the general population is ready for that, I think there will be a subset that will embrace it. If Joost is able to keep the content fresh and expand the offering they should succeed in that niche. If they really want to go after the average television market, they will need to get their hands on “Prime Time” content.
It is a beta product and there are minor issues as expected. I think that they are easily worked around. The interface is inviting, people will like it. They do include commercial content, which I assume is how they are paying for it. The ads are not bad however. No worse than what is currently on broadcast television. For the ability to watch what you want when you want it, that’s not bad.
How does this play into the DVR market? My current TV watching habits include recording some shows each week, then sitting down and watching them on a couple of nights with my wife, skipping through any advertisements to maximize the viewing experience. It is nice and it is almost an on-demand type of lifestyle. The one thing I cannot do is record a show that ‘s already started to get the beginning that I may have missed, or record more than 2 things at once. Granted, the last scenario rarely occurs, but it does happen on occasion. Add to that the fact that DVR’s are about as complex as the old VCR was. It’s not difficult to operate, and the ability to schedule a recording is much easier than the old VCR days, however there is a large population that simply does not want to mess with it. The ease of the Joost interface and the on-demand and search-ability may make it a nice alternative.
Overall, I am excited about Joost and I hope they live up to their goals. It could change the way I watch television again, the same way the DVR did when it was introduced. Bravo!