Joost Beta Preview: The Best TV Online?

Although I normally stay clear of crowded tech topics, I’ve decided to do a short review of Joost because they made me feel special by giving me access to the private Beta version.

This is also the next step in the convergence of television and internet media. The success of Joost could have a big effect on how we watch TV in the future.

So what is Joost? This is the description from their site:

Joost is a new way of watching TV on the internet. With Joost, you get all the things you love about TV, including a high-quality full-screen picture, hundreds of full-length shows and easy channel-flipping.

Sounds great doesn’t it? But how well can they deliver?

Picture

Definitely not bad, but I wouldn’t call it a high-quality full-screen picture. It looks great at small sizes, but in full-screen mode the quality is pretty low. I’d put it on par with the quality you get when watching shows on NBC or ABC websites.

Update: On second glance the picture looks a lot better than I thought. Definitely better than nearly all internet video.

Channels

Here is a list of the channels currently available:

  • Comedy Central
  • MTV
  • GameStar TV
  • IndieFlix Premier Hits
  • Fight Network
  • The Soccer Channel
  • PokerHeaven TV
  • Bite TV
  • Off the Fence Docs
  • Saturday Morning TV
  • Live @ Much
  • Guiness World Records TV
  • LX.TV
  • Lime
  • TERRA: The Nature of Our World
  • Braindead
  • JumpTV Arabia
  • Fifth Gear Shortcuts
  • Havoc Action Sports TV
  • What’s Popular
  • Warner Bros. Records
  • IndyCar Series
  • Lazy TV
  • National Geographic
  • Joost Suggests

That’s a pretty long list, but besides Comedy Central, MTV, and National Geographic, there aren’t any big names. Still, I think they’ve done a good job assembling entertaining programming (fights, music, action sports) that will appeal to a young base of users.

At the moment the number of available shows is still very low. Most of the ones they have listed aren’t working yet, but I expect this to change once they launch the public version.

The Interface

Here is a shot of the full screen interface.

This is a shot of the channel menu interface.

This is a shot of just the main control panel.

My initial impression of the interface is good. It’s intuitive, I didn’t really have any problem navigating between channels and shows. It is a bit slow though when switching between programs, but still much quicker than moving between videos on YouTube. Hopefully this improves in the final version.

Ads

I haven’t watched enough to be sure, but it looks like Joost places short ads within the content and possibly at the end. This is very similar to what they do on the network sites.

It definitely creates a TV like experience. The one hang up is the amount of content and the quality of the picture. I can’t wait for the day when computer and television are integrated into one monster machine.

So far I like it, and could see myself watching shows on Joost IF it has the programming I want. Who knows if it will take off, with competition from Apple TV and the already popular video sites. Regardless, TV is coming online, and line between online and traditional media is getting even blurrier.