Are you drinking the Joost?

Disclaimer: Images are screenshots of works copyrighted by Nettwerk and Joost. Display is in fair-use, but if copyright owners wishes them pulled, please contact me.
joost0.jpg Joost. What a hooey. Or so I thought.
Originally, this was called The Venice Project, and I had received a beta invite along with a couple friends. Originally, I was testing on a Windows 2000 1.8Ghz with 1.5G of ram. No go there, it would just hang and then after about ten minutes, just die. Not really sure what is being used in Windows XP that is so specialized when you can pretty much do everything else in Windows 2000, but that turned me off to the whole aspect of the application.
A brand new workstation allowed me to revisit Joost again to see if anything had changed. This time around, it was a Macbook Pro, with 3G ram. And it just happens that they had just released a Mac-Intel version of Joost back in the middle of February.
What else can I say but “Wow.”

joost1.jpg Initial Reaction: Ack. It took over my screen. Then you realize that this is a television replacement, so you double click the screen. It automatically shrinks down to a manageable window. Don’t freak out now, but if you move your mouse to the top, you can get a menu also. Then you get the: “Hmm.. it’s actually designed not half bad.” It’s in the typical Web 2.0 style, but it’s very clean. Very suitable for television replacement.
Annoyances: You have to close this application. I mean REALLY close it. If you don’t, you’ll be sucking down bandwidth and resources while you blindly didn’t realize why your machine was slowing down a bit. You also have to sign a NDA when you beta. They seem to promote advertising the product itself due to promotion of blogging and press.
joost2.jpg Resources: This sucker is resource intensive. I don’t know about you, but when I was trying to test the beta on a Windows 2000 machine (yes, I know it says Windows XP is the minimum requirements, but why?) I couldn’t even load it. I’ve had friends that have had issues with it early on in the game with Windows XP also.
Bandwidth: This is from the help section of the FAQ:

Joostâ„¢ is a streaming video application, and so uses a relatively high amount of bandwidth per hour. In one hour of viewing, approximately 320Mb data will be downloaded and 105Mb uploaded, which means that it will exhaust a 1Gb cap in 10 hours. Also, the application continues to run in the background after you close the main window. For this reason, if you pay for your bandwidth usage per megabyte or have your usage capped by your ISP, you should be careful to always exit Joostâ„¢ client completely when you are finished watching it.

joost3.jpgThat means that if you’re doing other things or have VoIP, watch out. You’re really going to be sucking down some bandwidth. That’s good and bad. Good in the fact that you’re not downloading things, but bad since it’s bandwidth always used. It would really be nice if there was a way to set up the buffer zone so if you have some major bandwidth, then you won’t have any issues with skipping of the video content.
Display: At 1680×1050 resolution, it was a little bit grainy but not unacceptable when it came to quality. It actually looked really good depending on the content which lead me to believe that it’s an issue with what resolution the content was uploaded at instead of the provision itself. But the content will reflect what people think about it, so that needs to be checked. This would probably be better if you’re at most screen resolutions these days at 1024 or 1280.
joost4.jpg Advertisements: Currently there are these one second or two second commercials at the end of each segment. Considering music videos and such are only three to four minutes long, this is a lot better than the fifteen minutes to three minutes ratio on current cable. Remember though that cable used to say that they were better than over-the-air because they were not going to show commercials? Look what happened. Perhaps Joost will go in the way of TiVo or something similar for advertisement, but we’ll have to see.
Final thoughts: The version tested was Mac 0.81. While they claim that there’s no skipping due to their technology and it’s better than the usual downloading technologies, I really don’t see how that’s possible. You’ll skip no matter what if you don’t have the bandwidth or the buffer. It shouldn’t be much different since the video stream still has to arrive on your end so thus it’s equivalent to a “download” isn’t it? But bandwidth issues aside, this has a lot of hope to combat regular television ideals. Hopefully you’re not on some bandwidth provider that has “unsaid caps” on their unlimited downloading since this will basically cause you a lot of pain in the long run. Not sure about Windows yet since, well… after seeing the Mac-Intel version, who would want to test the XP one? From the Mac client perspective, I personally am thoroughly impressed although the client itself can be optimized further. The design looks good and there is definitely a lot of hope for the future of Joost.