Internet Television Test, Week 3: Rerun Season

(For those just joining us, here’s the story so far.)

Ah, Mid-July.

The time of year when I catch up on shows that I missed and the TV networks bombard me with advertisements for the new shows debuting next season. I think. Has it started yet? I don’t know. I don’t own a TV.

My list of links to the shows I’m watching is about half done. There is little motivation until new shows come out. Instead I found myself finishing Burn Notice Season 1 by getting the two-part finale free off of iTunes.

We also finished Disc 2 of House M.D. Season 1. This is a really good show. If you’re like me and missed the boat the first go round, pick it up.

We watched In Plain Sight on Hulu rather than USA Network this week. Our first impression is: The controls are much better. Better for going INTO full screen mode, better once you’re there.

On USA Network’s site, to go to full screen you have to click a small rectangle-within-a-rectangle no bigger than my Mac’s pointer. At first I didn’t even know it was clickable. On Hulu it’s a large button. It’s so large of a button that it fits the words “Full Screen” and an easy-to-see icon. The ICON is four times the size of USA’s whole button. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.

Once in full screen, on USA Network’s site uses the same controller as when it’s in a tiny window. It doesn’t get any bigger. Pause is a tiny target sandwiched between “rewind” and “exit full screen”, barely a fraction of an inch apart.

On Hulu’s site, “pause” and “exit full screen” are on opposite corners. In fact, they ARE the opposite corners. The whole corner square inch is one big button on each side. To rewind/forward, just click the timeline. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.

TheDailyShow.com’s player is similar to Hulu’s, but not quite the same. The buttons are still in opposite corners, but they don’t take up the whole corner. Someone on Comedy Central’s website team needs to learn about Fitts’s Law. (Remember: Design is more than “how it looks”)

After Hulu and TheDailyshow.com, the USA Network player is bad enough to make me NOT browse USA Network’s site for new shows when I’m looking to discover new content. Instead, I watched the Pilot Episode of Remington Steele and added The Riches to my list, both found on Hulu.

Speaking of The Riches, I watched the pilot episode of yesterday. It was 180 degrees from what I was expecting. When I read Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, I was expecting a sitcom. When I saw it was an hour long, I still imagined something closer to The O.C. than The Sopranos. Instead, I got the best Pilot I’ve seen all month. I cannot wait to finish Season 1.

This week brought another episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and another visit to ABC Family’s web site to stream the episode. This time everything appeared to be there, but I only clicked on Episode 3 for fear of jinxing it.

Same as last week, you have to click the screen after each commercial break, but you can click anywhere. Still annoying.

On the download front, both my wife and I are still enjoying The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I downloaded this fully expecting it to blow as badly as Clerks, My Big Fat Greek Life, and many other Movie-to-TV translations. Instead, I find myself curious to see where they’re taking this. It may have to be added to the list.

I have low expectations for The Two Coreys, Season 1. After Scott Baio is 45… and Single (and its sequel) my appetite for peeping into the dirty laundry of the stars of my childhood entertainment is is fully whet and the torrent is 99% finished.

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2 comments so far

  1. Bob on

    The biggest problem I have are finding HD torrents in that stupid container, Matroska. It requires ungodly amounts of CPU to play it and the developers don’t seem to care and tell you off if you dare to question their ‘perfect’ container. The answer to MKV is usually “re-encode it.”
    What folks need to do is ditch Matroska entirely. Wipe it off the internet, and stick to vanilla h.264 and other published standards that actually work. I don’t have room for 10 boxes attached to my TV and network just to deal with these fringe formats that exist solely because they’re Open Source goodyness.

  2. Neurotic Nomad on

    I too had trouble finding non-MKV HD files at first, and ended up re-encoding many things just to be able to watch them.

    Not exactly “impulse” viewing.

    The complicated thing about MKV is that the container doesn’t have “default” audio/video codecs.

    Many MKV files use h.264 for their video portion, but just as many use Divx or VC-1 (aka “windows media”).

    Then, you never know what audio codec they’ll use: MP3, AAC, AC3, DTS, TrueHD, …

    MP4/MOV files can also mix-and-match audio and video codecs, but the “default” is usually AAC for audio (or in the case of iTunes rentals AC3) and h.264 for video.

    …but as soon as I discovered TVrss.net, it stopped being a problem.


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