BBC iPlayer “Beta”

I’ve recently been mucking around with this;

The first thing which struck me was the sign up process for the Beta, which was a little shoddy;

You had to sign up, which obviously is fine, but when I signed up, they didn’t send me a confirmation email. I waited 24 hours and tried again, but to no avail. A week later I got the confirmations – they’d known there would be a delay (they were specifically choking the registrations), but not a single word about it was on the site (that I could find at the time).

Anyway, having got the Beta login, I logged in to find I could download the .exe – good. But to actually download any of the programmes, I needed another login. So I signed up for the secondary username, and all seemed well – haven’t these people heard of SSO?

Downloads were very fast indeed; downloading the latest prom was 500ks on a bog standard Home connection. I guess the difference is the BBC has a dedicated seeding farm of some description which is just pumping out MBs – makes a difference.

The quality is good – not amazing, and could be better, but “good”. Certainly watching it on a 20″ Apple cinema display is perfectly satisfying.

Now we get into the actual player itself – this seems needlessly dumbed down to cater for the masses. The basic functions work fine, full screen support is there etc. But it’s inextricably linked to Windows Media Player (the latest version which I had to upgrade to before I could finish the install) which is no doubt due to the heavy DRM which they have imposed. The DRM aspect I do sort of understand – but, there’s nothing hypothetically using any other sort of Hard disk related recorder to store broadcasts directly from Freeview etc. Either way it seems a bit pointless – it’s not going to be long before someone figures of a way to rip the data directly. (iTunes anyone?)

Lastly, the configuration options – I can not believe they don’t give you the option to throttle the upload/download bandwidth; it’s very irresponsible indeed. Whilst I believe that Tiscali etc are going overboard (See here and here) it will hit some people, the average joe public whom the player is aimed at in particular.

Hopefully these issues will be resolved without the need for traffic shaping.