Some thoughts on the new video services

I’ve been playing a bit with Joost and Zudeo and am am quite impressed with the overall quality as well as speed in which things are happening. I should mention that I use a (almost) 30 / 5 Mbps down cable connection which I tend to also use with either a GigE wired connection at my desk or a 802.11N wireless connection, which by US standards is about as good as it gets. 😉 I am not sure if the experience I’ve been having would be as good on other network connections, though I am sure that entry level broadband would make it tougher to speed through selections…


Zudeo, which is built on Bit Torrent, enables shared downloads of content – you get to keep what you download. The bit torrent system tends to reward you through Karma. The more you upload, the more speed you can achieve in download. I found the content to be pretty interesting though it’s pretty heavy on Movie Trailers and shorts – not real TV-like stuff or premium tier offerings – at least not yet. There’s no DRM here so I guess that’s to be expected.

Regardless, you can get true HD content downloaded VERY quickly and it seriously looks awesome. Not too unlike your initial experience with HDTV though, once you get past the WOW that picture looks awesome effect, you start wondering what you want to spend time actually watching beyond some extreme sports and landscapes. If you do get into Zudeo, make sure you’ve got some spare HD space as it’s pretty easy to download a lot very quickly…

The interface can be confusing if you venture into the advanced settings as you’ll find yourself deep in Azureus which is the Bit Torrent client that’s really running things. If you’ve never used Bit Torrent and particularly Azurues, there can be way too many things to consider. Granted, you probably won’t have to mess with much beyond your default download location, but you may need to adjust your firewall or router to enable better connections outside of your home network’s NAT configuration.

Here’s a sample of what to expect:


For the more mass-minded consumer, Joost will probably be more appealing. So far, the Joost team has delivered a seriously elegant system focused on watching. Joost is run by the team who brought us Kazaa and they’ve retained their intellectual property to deliver robust P2P applications and it totally works and works well really well.

Joost’s interface flows. It’s hard to really compare it to anything as it’s pretty unique – at least to me. I find the space is optimized for video with other elements floating on the perimeter of your screen inviting you to either explore or simply ignore.

Finding something interesting to watch is easy enough and from what I understand the content flow has only just started. I’ve been enjoying the Fifth Gear car program as well as some National Geographic pieces and the occasional World’s Strongest Man. While there’s no HD content here, I think it’s technically feasible to expect it in the future – perhaps following the 1.0 release.

While Zudeo works with as a single play system – no playlists – Joost will play an entire channel once you select where in the queue you’d like to start watching. When you quit and restart, it begins with your last viewed program and as a show is ending you get a nice pop-up that states what’s next. There are some ads which appear in between shows though they are (so far) only on for a few moments which is far from in the way or offensive.

Here’s a sample of what to expect:

Apple iTunes / Apple TV

As most people know it’s easy to one-click your way to some shows and movies from iTunes and I expect that when Apple TV arrives this week, it will make the experience of watching considerably better than the current system of rigging your machine to a TV. The Apple TV will be there happily awaiting a sync from your main store-connected system much like your iPod does today. My only issues (and it’s not even here) are the reliance on iTunes and the iPhoto. I get that it makes live simple to use a standard base configuration, but I’d really like to use content that is not managed in iTunes – archived DVDs for one – and I don’t use iPhoto anymore now that Aperture is in the picture so I am not sure how I will be able to enjoy HD quality pictures on my TV. Front Row does not recognize my Aperture library at all… Hopefully there will be a way to extend the capabilities through a plugin or a hack to better enable access to content I already have – not just what I buy from Apple. I’m looking forward to checking it out when it arrives and I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

The Peer to Peer future?

After spending the time I have with Zudeo and Joost though I have to wonder where the P2P / Torrent part of Apple’s delivery strategy might be. By sharing the power to deliver massive blocks of content it’s clearly possible to deliver higher quality than we are used to seeing come through the iTunes store. I can’t think of too many people who want to watch low resolution video on their HD screens… come to think of it I didn’t know too many people who wanted low resolution audio either, and Apple has sold over 2 Billion songs.

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