Thursday, 19 November 2009

Five things I like about the new Wii iPlayer

First thing yesterday morning, before I'd even had breakfast, I downloaded the new iPlayer from the Wii shop, eager to try it out. I haven't given it a lot of testing yet, but so far there are many things I like about it:

  1. It now appears in the top-level Wii menu, which makes it obvious how to access it. Previously it was four clicks away.
  2. The interface is similar in style and function to the one I'm familiar with on my PC, but adapted to the context of use.
  3. It's fine if I start it up knowing specifically which programme I want to watch and also has the beginnings of some recommendation elements in the "Most Popular" and "More Like This" functions, which is good if I'm just looking for something to watch.
  4. The frame-rate is better than the old version, which was uncomfortable to watch for more than a few minutes. The resolution isn't quite up to standard definition, but that's less important.
  5. Navigation is by pointing the Wiimote, which rumbles as the pointer moves over clickable things. It's a subtle but important bit of tactile feedback that I suspect helps to subconsciously tune your movements to steer the pointer efficiently.

A few things I would like to see in a future version (tut! Never satisfied eh...?):

  • I'd like to see still-frames as I drag the play-position slider. Buffering for video playback takes several seconds each time the slider is moved. If I want to skip to the part of "Later..." where Norah Jones sang for example, it's a tediously slow process.
  • The ability to watch live channels. I know there are technical reasons why that would be a bad idea, but let me talk about wishes for a moment, and forget technical feasibility. I'd like live channels to be included so that everything is in one place, and I only have to learn one style of interface. I'd like to see the broadcast schedule displayed in the same UI, and for the programmes in it to contain links to previous and related episodes.
  • A recommended viewing schedule. Programmes aren't available forever in iPlayer, so to help me organise my TV-viewing time I'd like to indicate which programmes and series I'm interested in, and have the system recommend to me what to watch next and by when, so that I don't run out of time to watch anything.
  • Finally, I'd like more to help me find new things to watch - for example, user-provided ratings, and editorial content about programmes and series.

Dr Rob.

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