bit-tech.net

First Impressions: The iPlayer Beta

Posted on 7th Jun 2010 at 10:14 by Paul Goodhead with 51 comments

Paul Goodhead
I’m a massive fan of the BBC iPlayer. I’d actually go as far as saying I consider it one of the most important technical innovations of the last five years. So there.

Seriously though, I find the flexibility of the iPlayer liberating, I no longer have to be in a certain place at a certain time to catch my favourite shows and it also allows me to experiment with programs I may not have otherwise tried. I wouldn’t be such an ardent fan of The Thick of It if I hadn’t have chanced upon it when looking for something short to watch with dinner many moons ago.

The fact that the service is ad free is also a boon. OK, so watching one or two unskippable ads at the start of a 4OD program isn’t exactly all that bad, but the lack of ads does make iPlayer feel more immediately fun and responsive.

As a result of all this I greeted the news of the new iPlayer open beta with more than just a degree of trepidation. I know it’s an age-old cliché but if it aint broke; don’t add social networking features to it - right?

To find out if my worst fears were to materialize I’ve been spending the last few nights playing with the shiny, swooshy beta interface and I can happily say that the sky is not falling, though it may be sagging a little under the weight of unnecessary features.

First Impressions: The iPlayer Beta My Impressions of the iPlayer beta"If you don't go get me some cheese, I'll rip your head off, and give you a spinedectomy"

One new feature which definitely isn’t superfluous though is the Favourites section, which lets you mark specific series as your favourites and then updates you when new episodes are available. This is a killer feature for me, as I tend to have so many series on the go that I struggle to keep up with what I have and haven’t watched. A single section that tells me what is new and what is about to expire is an absolute godsend.

On the other hand I could happily leave the social features that seem to have weedled their way in to every facet of modern life. I’m not sure I need my Facebook page clogged up with people desperate to tell the world they are watching last week’s episode of Total Wipeout. Thanks, but no thanks.

At least the social features can be bypassed by opting not to sign up for what they are calling the BBC iD - a unique login for the iPlayer and other BBC sites. I can see why the BBC has pursued such a scheme as there are obvious benefits, such as allowing favourites and recently watched lists to follow users across multiple platforms (home PC to Smartphone to work PC). I am however sceptical about how many people will want to create a login for something that has until now not required one.

Still, my overall impression has been positive and some of my early pessimism has been assuaged. Conclusion - At least they’ve not borked it.

By the way, now seems like a good time to introduce myself - I’m Paul Goodhead, the new staff writer for Custom PC and bit-tech. I’ve been a PC enthusiast for a number of years now and, as I’m sure you can imagine, am pretty excited about writing for the site and mag. I plan to be contributing to both for many years to come and can be found on the forums under the name 'Material'.

51 Comments

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NuTech 7th June 2010, 11:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
I’d actually go as far as saying I consider it one of the most important technical innovations of the last five years. So there.
You're not wrong there. Just the 5 years of legal work alone paved the way for all these great VOD services we have today.


Also, allow me to lower the tone and be the first one on these forums to say the joke you've probably been hearing your entire life:

Paul, do you give Good Head?

Welcome ;)
crazyceo 7th June 2010, 11:32 Quote
Welcome onboard dude!

I to am a huge fan of the iPlayer and whilst I was a little unsure about the need for changes, these changes haven't killed off the idea of using the iPlayer.

I know people who are permenantly on social networking sites and will be thrilled at this addition to the iPlayer. Me, I'd rather watch in peace and relaxed without the disruptions.
Hugo 7th June 2010, 11:34 Quote
Is it just me or does Paul's photo make him look like the offspring of Alex and Joe?

Oh, and welcome to bit-tech and Custom PC I guess. Ask Joe to show you that inside his slipper is the perfect indentation of his foot - it's thrilling!
Cyberpower-UK 7th June 2010, 11:34 Quote
iPlayer is one of the PCs killer Apps, sure it's convenient on a PS3 or STB but there's no HD content on PS3 and Virgin's iPlayer is clunky very clunky to use compared to either.

I'm sure there's a decent argument for using your Licence number for use of their HD content.

ITVPlayer, 4oD and Demand5 are still playing catch-up.
LeMaltor 7th June 2010, 11:40 Quote
I tried the beta, but I couldn't find the most popular section on the front page so I didn't know wtf to watch, so Im back on the old site now :s
CardJoe 7th June 2010, 11:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo
Is it just me or does Paul's photo make him look like the offspring of Alex and Joe?

IT...LIVES!
kenco_uk 7th June 2010, 11:45 Quote
Don't be conned into having 'a ride' on Harry's beanbag.
Combatus 7th June 2010, 11:56 Quote
I love iPlayer. Just wish they'd talk to Adobe and get Flash 10.1 hardware acceleration working with it again. I'm having to use a monster CPU in my media server to watch anything in HD since Ion doesn't take the load any more.
jrs77 7th June 2010, 12:13 Quote
If the content on BBC would be available to view from my country, then I might find it a good thing too....
CardJoe 7th June 2010, 12:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs77
If the content on BBC would be available to view from my country, then I might find it a good thing too....

At least you don't have to cover costs as part of your TV Licence fee though....
Material 7th June 2010, 12:44 Quote
Thanks NuTech, and yeah, I've heard one or two jokes like that before :'(
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo
Is it just me or does Paul's photo make him look like the offspring of Alex and Joe?!

This has been mentioned in the office. Alex is building a race of super soldier journalists, all fashioned in his image...or something like that.
jrs77 7th June 2010, 12:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
At least you don't have to cover costs as part of your TV Licence fee though....

That's the funny thing about it... I can watch it on Sat perfectly fine without paying the fees, just like the rest of the european television, still I'm getting blocked in the net.
Additionally, if I use a british proxy, then I can watch the BBC-stuff :facepalm:

Limitations to countries is the worst thing people came up with imho....
CardJoe 7th June 2010, 13:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
This has been mentioned in the office. Alex is building a race of super soldier journalists, all fashioned in his image...or something like that.



Think how tall that staff would be!
Xir 7th June 2010, 13:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
At least you don't have to cover costs as part of your TV Licence fee though....

Meh, we have to pay our own licence fee (not too shabby) and DON'T get a killer feature like an IPlayer...

From Finland you need quite a big dish for sattelitebased-BBC, no? More than 60cm?
Claave 7th June 2010, 13:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
This has been mentioned in the office. Alex is building a race of super soldier journalists, all fashioned in his image...or something like that.



Think how tall that staff would be!

Last time I ask Alex for some tea then, he'll be spiking it with growth hormones... :S
lacuna 7th June 2010, 13:33 Quote
Urgh, there is no call for it to be attached to social networking but at least you don't have to be I suppose. Can anybody give some justification as to why it is interesting to know what your friends are watching on iplayer?
Hugo 7th June 2010, 13:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacuna
Can anybody give some justification as to why it is interesting to know what your friends are watching on iplayer?
So you know what they really like watching, not what they think they're supposed to say they like watching.
NuTech 7th June 2010, 13:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacuna
Urgh, there is no call for it to be attached to social networking but at least you don't have to be I suppose. Can anybody give some justification as to why it is interesting to know what your friends are watching on iplayer?
It's actually becoming quite a popular idea.

Boxee is doing it as well. It will show you what your friends have been watching and if there is a (legal) download/stream available, it will take you right to it.

For a HTPC, I think it's a really cool idea.
Lamebot 7th June 2010, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo
Is it just me or does Paul's photo make him look like the offspring of Alex and Joe?!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
This has been mentioned in the office. Alex is building a race of super soldier journalists, all fashioned in his image...or something like that.

=Win.
SteveU 7th June 2010, 14:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberpower-UK
iPlayer is one of the PCs killer Apps, sure it's convenient on a PS3 or STB but there's no HD content on PS3 and Virgin's iPlayer is clunky very clunky to use compared to either.

I'm sure there's a decent argument for using your Licence number for use of their HD content.

ITVPlayer, 4oD and Demand5 are still playing catch-up.

Tell me about it, I love Virgin's VoD feature but the iPlayer section is pants. I find using the search facilty to be a far easier way of finding BBC content on there.

Can't wait for them to integrate TiVo into the Virgin boxes, should make the experience a whole lot better!
Material 7th June 2010, 14:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamebot
=Win.

Oh no you didn't....
LAGMonkey 7th June 2010, 14:56 Quote
One acronym for the BBC that has caused no end of annoyance.

XBMC

but there are ways to make it work so i can live with it for the time being. As for the social side of things, i dont see the need so i never played with Boxee.
(i do know that Boxee's implimentation of iPlayer isnt as smooth).
WildThing 7th June 2010, 15:56 Quote
Congrats on getting the job Paul, and welcome to Bit-Tech! Can we expect you on the next Podcast?
pimonserry 7th June 2010, 16:03 Quote
Thanks for the heads up, I've just started using the favourites feature - feels very polished, and so SO useful.

Oh, and welcome to Bit-Tech. We won't hassle you too much.
javaman 7th June 2010, 16:16 Quote
my only two complaints with iplayer is that alot of things i want to see such as family guy and the night sky doesn't go up. Also unless you watch it the very small pop out window it looks $h!t. TV catch up does a fantastic job streaming, so I don't understand why BBC can't at least match that quality. If it gets the all clear to record freeview (legal grey area) I can't see me using iplayer regardless of what features they add.
Material 7th June 2010, 16:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildThing
Congrats on getting the job Paul, and welcome to Bit-Tech! Can we expect you on the next Podcast?

Yes hopefully, as long as I'm in the office when we decide to record it.

I'm not doing any singing tho....
CardJoe 7th June 2010, 16:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
Yes hopefully, as long as I'm in the office when we decide to record it.

I'm not doing any singing tho....

We'll see.
Material 7th June 2010, 17:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
We'll see.

Barbershop quartet this time maybe?
Hugo 7th June 2010, 17:17 Quote
A Capella perhaps?
Psytek 7th June 2010, 17:34 Quote
the iPlayer is great.

The content... not so much.
Nature 7th June 2010, 19:17 Quote
Paul goodhead, I must say you're a handsome man.
flibblesan 7th June 2010, 19:26 Quote
Best name ever
Material 7th June 2010, 20:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nature
Paul goodhead, I must say you're a handsome man.

+1 rep
Quote:
Originally Posted by flibblesan
Best name ever

Consider that my mother is called Mrs Goodhead.
Madness_3d 7th June 2010, 20:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Combatus
I love iPlayer. Just wish they'd talk to Adobe and get Flash 10.1 hardware acceleration working with it again. I'm having to use a monster CPU in my media server to watch anything in HD since Ion doesn't take the load any more.

Same, My HP Mini can't barely with even the SD stuff under win 7 any more :'(

And welcome new guy ;) One Question, What happens if you have a massive disagreement about something fundamental like Bit-Tech's View of SLI? Does a Nuclear War ensue?
webchimp 8th June 2010, 00:53 Quote
I tried the beta, and very quickly went back to the old version. It seems to take a lot longer to find what I want, I generally start with categories and then select whether I want to view either television or radio.

Also, what happened to the "Last Played" feature? I often listen to long radio broadcasts and will dip in and out throghout the day, so it was great to carry on listening where you left off having shutdown or closed the browser. While the resume feature still works, I first have to find the program rather than having a direct link from the home page.

I very much hope they don't ditch the old version yet.
pimonserry 8th June 2010, 01:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by webchimp
I tried the beta, and very quickly went back to the old version. It seems to take a lot longer to find what I want, I generally start with categories and then select whether I want to view either television or radio.

Also, what happened to the "Last Played" feature? I often listen to long radio broadcasts and will dip in and out throghout the day, so it was great to carry on listening where you left off having shutdown or closed the browser. While the resume feature still works, I first have to find the program rather than having a direct link from the home page.

I very much hope they don't ditch the old version yet.

They haven't ditched the old one yet, just go to bbc.co.uk/iplayer rather than beta.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Also, there's a feedback button, so you could tell them that you want the Last Played feature and they might show you where it's hidden, or take your opinion into account before they un-beta it.
Xir 8th June 2010, 10:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
Consider that my mother is called Mrs Goodhead.
Ouch :D
Material 8th June 2010, 11:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madness_3d
welcome new guy ;) One Question, What happens if you have a massive disagreement about something fundamental like Bit-Tech's View of SLI? Does a Nuclear War ensue?

I shouldn't think so, at the end of the day bit-tech's stance on subjects such as SLI, RAID & Crossfire are based in fact and empirical testing, so they are pretty difficult to argue against (though I'm sure that doesn't stop people trying).

I'm almost sure I'm allowed my own opinion in more subjective areas such as games and the like. As long as I don't start slagging off Monkey Island and Deus Ex that is...
CardJoe 8th June 2010, 12:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material

I'm almost sure I'm allowed my own opinion in more subjective areas such as games and the like. As long as I don't start slagging off Monkey Island and Deus Ex that is...

Tread carefully, Padawan... ;)

No, we're all allowed our own opinions, obviously. It's merely that, in reviews, we rely on certainties as far as possible.

To be honest, I didn't even know we 'had a stance on SLI' (or even what the others think of it), which probably tells you as much as you need to know about how advanced my PC is and how rigidly our views are made to follow a company line. We prefer to be fair and right and varied, rather than consistent across the board.
lacuna 8th June 2010, 12:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material


Consider that my mother is called Mrs Goodhead.

Does alerting us to this fact constitute self harming?
Hugo 8th June 2010, 13:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Tread carefully, Padawan...
Just remember that System Shock 2 is inferior to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and you'll be okay.
eddtox 8th June 2010, 16:07 Quote
Congratulations on the new job. Completely agree with you about iPlayer being awesome, especially now that it's got favourites. I also think the BBC produce a lot of excellent programmes (and I wish Murdoch would STFU).
Material 8th June 2010, 16:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacuna
Does alerting us to this fact constitute self harming?

I think its more like me trying to get it all out of the way early
CardJoe 8th June 2010, 17:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo
Just remember that System Shock 2 is inferior to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and you'll be okay.

DON'T LISTEN TO THE DARK SIDE!
alick 13th June 2010, 13:05 Quote
it dusent buffer the video so if u live far from an exchange or ur internet it limited u wont be abul to wotch HD stuff SD mostly works , plus they stopped it working for xbmc ( even thow we pay for it we should be abil to wotch it how we like )

iv been using tvtorrents for 5+ year and haven't found eney thing more reliabul or beter quality , and its had favourites for time ,never delets old stuff , dusent care wer u live
NuTech 13th June 2010, 14:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alick
it dusent buffer the video so if u live far from an exchange or ur internet it limited u wont be abul to wotch HD stuff SD mostly works , plus they stopped it working for xbmc ( even thow we pay for it we should be abil to wotch it how we like )

iv been using tvtorrents for 5+ year and haven't found eney thing more reliabul or beter quality , and its had favourites for time ,never delets old stuff , dusent care wer u live
Wow, at first I thought that post was written by someone either really foreign or really stupid.

Then I remembered that iPlayer isn't available to foreigners.

So.....
Teelzebub 13th June 2010, 14:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alick
it dusent buffer the video so if u live far from an exchange or ur internet it limited u wont be abul to wotch HD stuff SD mostly works , plus they stopped it working for xbmc ( even thow we pay for it we should be abil to wotch it how we like )

iv been using tvtorrents for 5+ year and haven't found eney thing more reliabul or beter quality , and its had favourites for time ,never delets old stuff , dusent care wer u live

Is this a new language

There's never a grammar nazi when you need one :(
eddtox 13th June 2010, 18:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alick
It doesn't buffer the video so if you live far from an exchange, or your internet it limited, you won't be able to watch HD stuff. SD mostly works , plus they stopped it working for xbmc ( even though we pay for it. We should be able to watch it how we like )

I've been using illegal torrent site for 5+ year and haven't found anything more reliable or better quality, and its had favourites for ?? time ,never deletes old stuff , doesn't care where you live

There, I fixed it for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bumsrush
Is this a new language

There's never a grammar nazi when you need one :(

I don't usually do this, but since you asked nicely... :D
Material 13th June 2010, 20:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NuTech
Wow, at first I thought that post was written by someone either really foreign or really stupid.

Then I remembered that iPlayer isn't available to foreigners.

So.....

+1 rep good sir, that's a fine bit of wit. These young language abusers need to be kept in line.
alick 14th June 2010, 01:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material


+1 rep good sir, that's a fine bit of wit. These young language abusers need to be kept in line.

y

is the point of these fourms not to sher thorts related to the artecal
or is it to make shore every ones spelling/ grammer is up to sratch

if u can understand wot sum ones triying to say wot more do u need from a fourm post
eddtox 14th June 2010, 11:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alick
Why?

Is the point of these forums not to share thoughts related to the article?
Or is it to make sure everyone's spelling/ grammar is up to scratch?

If you can understand what someone is trying to say, what more do you need from a forum post?

Your very own friendly neighbourhood translator strikes again!

On a serious note, though, it is actually difficult to read and understand what it is you are trying to say. That is why the forum rules ask everyone to make an effort with their grammar and spelling.

If I remember correctly, the rules even suggest using the in-line spell-checker in Firefox. I'm sure someone on these forums would happily help you get that feature up and running, if you are having trouble with it.
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