Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Online Video or Vodcasts in Windows Media Center

Online Video or Vodcasts in Windows Media Center

In my series about online Media I’ve already talked about (audio) podcasting and truth be told, I was disappointed Microsoft doesn’t offer better support for this wonderful form of online media. Luckily there seems to be better support for Video podcasts and online video.
I’ve recently been trying TVTonic and the plug-in certainly has potential. TVtonic allows you to download online video content in WMC through RSS. Even though their site could use an update or two (see below) I was impressed.

There’s also a video directory (or guide) which categorizes popular video (or vodcast) feeds and allows for direct integration in your TVTonic. If you want to add your own feeds you’ll need to add the RSS link manually in Internet Explorer (no Firefox) on the TVTonic website.

The GUI is nice and the plug-in integrates very well with the standard WMC interface even though it can be extremly slow sometimes. This probably depends on your connection speed since everything is downloaded live. The plug-in automatically downloads every video in the available RSS feeds so people with a bandwith limit, beware!

Which brings me to my next point: the flaws.

I would have liked an option to set the number of episodes I want to download and keep on my hard drive. As it is TVTonic only supports a ‘viewed/unviewed’ system and (unfortunatly) every video in a new feed is marked as ‘unviewed’.

Another big flaw is the initial content offered by TVTonic. It doesn’t bother me that it automatically downloads 60 - 100 MB worth of (useless) video. What does bother me is that it keeps repeating the same video over and over on the main screen. Believe me, when you’re testing an application you don’t want to see the same GTtv Videogame Awards add ten times in a row.

To sum up, if I had to rate the plug-in I would give it a 3/5. It has a nice GUI, integrates well with Media Center and offers a lot of content and allows you to add your own but it’s missing some key features and it’s user friendliness needs to be improved a lot!


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