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Joost 1.0, say hello to the world

The Joost Internet TV service is now available as Joost Beta 1.0, open to anyone who wants to test the service.  

After Viacom announced it would begin working with Joost last February, people not familiar with ITV began to realize that the technology could be worth paying attention to over the next couple of years.

Created by the founders of Skype, Joost currently offers over 15,000 shows for free viewing via peer-to-peer technology.  The player looks best in full screen mode, maximizing dark space to highlight color.  Video quality is very striking to those used to the grainy blocks seen on user generated sites like YouTube.  Although there are other internet TV sites, such as Revision3, that boast similar quality, the volume of content and ease of navigation are unparalleled in my experience.

That is as long as the program is running smoothly, which it does much more consistently then in the past.  During the invite-only beta stages, stability and content access were frequently shaky.  Switching between programs, or surfing for new shows while the old one continues in the background always seemed to invite long snags in playback and navigation.  This was particularly frustrating as being able to navigate while viewing a program in the background is one of Joost’s best features that gives it a “just like cable” feel.
 
These problems have been greatly alleviated with Beta 1.0, though I do still experience the occasional hitch in a video.  It will freeze for a split second and then start up again without any of the crashing I experienced in earlier stages.  

The biggest difference users will likely experience is the overhauled user interface that offers better menu windows and larger icons and fonts.  "Invite Friends," "Blog This" and "User Profile" buttons have been added to the latest addition of the program.  

Joost has really cleaned up its Explore feature as well.  You can search for programs either by category, channel, or text search.  This last function is an important feature that still needs some work.  Some of my favorite shows, such as “Ghost in the Shell” (GIS), are not located in any pre-packaged channel and must be found and added to a custom channel via text search.  The problem is a slight misspelling or error in the title will often yield an empty search result.  For example, a search for “Eureka 7” instead of “Eureka Seven” will yield no results.  

Aside from hiccups in playback and stingy searching, the main flaw with Joost is still lack of content.  Even with 15,000 shows available, the service does not seem to follow any one series in its entirety or even through a single season.  For example, only three of the dozens of GIS episodes are available on Joost.

Neither is there live or recent content - in other words no current news.  An exploration of CNN’s Joost channel reveals only special investigations.  If Joost wants to become the final destination for program viewing they need to vertically expand program content as well as provide live programming.

With the Major League Baseball post season officially underway, Joost has taken a step in the right direction and now offers the MLB.com Daily Rewind, which is a half-hour show of highlights from all of the games.  It is likely more of the mainstream sports will also provide highlights for users to view.   

Joost promises to keep innovation and content partnerships coming in the future, which is exactly what the company needs to do to keep snapping up new ITV users.

And one more thing, the Muse video “Knights of Cydonia” may just be the raddest thing I have ever seen.  

If you haven't already tried it out, we strongly recommend giving Joost 1.0 a quick test run.  The program works with Microsoft XP and Apple OSX, but a Linux edition is currently in development.




"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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