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Beta tester review of The Venice Project (with screenshots!) (now named Joost)
I had the chance to participate in the beta of “The Venice Project“, the next project of the Kazaa and Skype founders. The website describes the software as a new venture that combines the best elements of the TV experience with the most powerful Internet technologies.
To me, this sounds like another Peer-To-Peer application or a video download service. But it definitely is not. At this point, there is no access to Live-TV, it is more like a Video-On-Demand (VoD) service.
Once you have installed and registered the software you see a big channel list with content from various partners of The Venice Project (TVP), such as “MTV Staying Alive”, “The Diddy Channel”, “Live @ Much”, World Poker Tour events, “Nettwerk”, the Lassie series, Warner Bros. Records, Green Day and Red Hot Chilli Peppers videos and concerts, a Paris Hilton channel (with behind the scenes videos) and a few more, mostly independent channels like BoomChicago, Lazy TV. A lot of the content is music based (clips, full concerts or making of’s). But we even spotted a few documentaries such as a special about the Egyptian pyramids and one about a Porsche 911.
The client application
The software is a just under 10 megabytes and Windows only for now. The beta is restricted to one user and you have to login with your email and password. After each launch you have to agree to a Non-Disclosure-Agreement.
Once you agree, you see the interface/navigation:
On the first glance you recognize a few buttons. One big lacking element of the interface is the missing Hot-Tips. If you hover a button you don’t get a description of it. The first time it is a trial-and-error process. The main menu is a simple list and is easier to understand. You select a point with your mouse or your keyboard.
The quality is pretty good, not HDTV good but okay for a video service. Of course the quality changes from movie to movie and you often have compression effects. All videos are encoded with a 4:3 resolution which causes very ugly black bars on displays with a resolution of 16:9 or 16:10. The encoding bitrate seems to be at around 1000kbit/s.
The Venice Project has a little more to offer than just TV. A pretty cool feature I like is the plugin to chat with other people watching the same show as you. With this can see what other users are watching the same and directly interact with them. You can also add your Jabber or GMail account and chat with your buddies via TVP. A RSS-Reader and a rating option for each show/episode is there as well. We have found out were we can see ratings, but I am sure there will be a solution in the final application. If you added your Jabber or Gmail account, your buddies can see what you are watching on “The Venice Project”.
This is what surprised me the most. Like in real TV you have short commercial breaks or loading screens and during that time you see a short ad. They are no longer than 3-5 seconds.
Corsin Camichel is a Swiss Internet geek with interests in sharing and learning, software, programming, BarCamps and gadgets. He writes “something” at “Geekness – with fresh and clean air“.