Thanks to Derek Davis over at The Journal I got into the Joost beta the other night.
Although the program is a bit overwhelming, it does its job. You can have it either full screen or windowed, with or without “Always on Top”. The menu system is fairly simple but a bit slow in responsiveness.
The first night it was a bit choppy, which I assumed was because I was in Germany, but it was still watchable. After leaving it running in “standby” mode overnight it was no longer choppy the next day. So I’m not sure if it was just my connection the first night or if there is a ranking system similar to torrents, since some of the bandwidth is shared among peers.
The channel selection is impressive but the number of shows on each channel is limited. For example, the MTV channel has nothing but punk’d episodes. I do give it points for having Earth: Final Conflict, a great Gene Roddenberry series. But, it only has one random episode of it. I didn’t know that The Onion did video shorts, but they have them on there too.
The system is commercial supported just like TV, but there’s only about two different commercials that get repeated over and over. They are inserted into your show about one every 10 minutes depending what channel you’re watching. The Joost commercial system has the greatest potential for revolutionizing commercials since the Tivo’s “ad-tagging” feature. Immediately following the single commercial, you’re returned to your program and in the bottom right you see the logo for the sponsor for another minute. You can click this if you are so inclined, and it would bring you to “special features” (probably that company’s website).
My view? It has potential. If the show selection builds out I could see myself hooking this up to my TV to save on the cable bill. But more immediately, it provides entertainment (in English!) while traveling abroad with nothing but an Internet connection in my dorm room. As long as it stays free, I can see myself using this.