BBC iPlayer in It's Bloody Awful Shocker
I got my invite through last week, so I shoved it on my XP box. It's painful to use. Poorly thought out menus are the first thing that greet you, showing you nine things at a time in a tiny cramped frame. Here I am using 1280x1024 and the Beeb are designing for 800x600. Then, when you find a programme you want to download, you have to go and download their client first, which is an app that contains an IE browser in a frame. A browser that crashes with script errors that you can't get out of, meaning you have to track down the process that spawned it in the Task Manager. Is it under BBC iPlayer? No. Under Internet Explorer, the title of the dialog box? Pfft, of course not. It's under the first place anyone would look, KService.exe.
The K in KService comes from Kontiki, an abhorrent peer-to-peer 'solution provider' that will happily piss your bandwidth up the wall with gay abandon, and remains running (if you're not savvy enough to kill it off) whether or not the iPlayer is running. If you're on a limited monthly bandwidth package, get used to paying for the extra gigabytes as you host chunks of EastEnders for the poor sods who want to watch it. The other ingenious thing that Kontiki does is drive your CPU usage up to 100% for several seconds every couple of minutes, stopping anything else that you're trying to run from responding. Forget about having it running in the background and trying to do anything even moderately useful.
The quality of the encoding is pretty poor, considering they have mastertapes and what-not at their disposal, and it's not down to the bitrate they're using which, while varying massively (between 1400 and 2200bps), is higher than 4oD's default, 1011bps. And the size is bizarre - 672x384. Where'd they come up with that from? How is it that 4oD has a higher resolution at a lower bitrate but looks better than iPlayer's offerings?
On the upside, FairUse4WM can strip the DRM off each file in a matter of seconds, so I can watch In The Night Garden with my son with VLC on a Linux box. Nice to see that the money spent with Microsoft has been worthwhile.
I doubt I'll keep using it. Everybody's favourite UK torrent site has better quality caps and encodes that play anywhere, and can be downloaded using software that doesn't hammer your processor and you can control the bandwidth of. What could've been a really neat service has missed not so much by a country mile, more of a country light-year.