Friday, January 30, 2009 Streaming Video Review

I have officially given up my DVR. This helps my pocket book, but I still want to watch certain shows without being tied to a set schedule. One of those shows is Scrubs, which I love despite it's reputation (and maybe because of it). Without a DVR I must either program myself to follow a TV schedule again, dust off the archaic VCR, or find it online. I found it online at This is my experience...

As you may know, I am a Mac owner and a Firefox user. So I was dismayed initially when content would not play in my browser of choice. I was unsure whether it was the browser or the operating system, because some sites only work with Microsoft products. Fortunately everything worked when I tried later in Safari. I'm not sure what the difference is but my main concern is that it works.

Once that was sorted I was able to watch my show. To watch you select "free episodes" from the site's main menu. This displays a list of shows with streaming episodes available online. Click on the one you want and it will launch a new window. In that window you can select which episode of which season you want to watch. Tonight I watched episodes five and six of season eight.

The video quality is reasonable. It's about the same as Hulu's standard definition content. I don't think the experience is as polished as Hulu's though. Like Hulu you can pause, seek, and play the video full screen. There are advertisements, too. It's fairly run of the mill for streaming sites, but at least they didn't miss anything.

Something I noticed is that the player will begin displaying the show while it is buffering, opting for severely degraded video quality instead of a pause while it downloads. This is annoying. My knee jerk reaction to it was that the content must be unwatchable and I would have to look elsehwere. It's good that I stayed because it soon cleared up, but it still happens at the start of every episode.

The ads aren't too bad. In fact, they have a great feature about them: you don't have to sit throught the whole thing. When the player switches to the advertisment, "ad mode," it reverts from full screen, showing the browser window with a graphic ad that has an embedded video in the top right corner. You have to watch the first 15 or 30 seconds, after which most of the ads keep playing but you can choose to go back to your video. The biggest problem is that your show won't automatically continue after the ad is done. You have to click to continue which is quite annoying if you don't have your pointer at your fiingertips. Most of the ads are for other ABC shows, but they have a few for other things.

Overall I was satisfied, if not impressed. I will definitely hit up this site for my Scrubs fix, and I might check out some of the other shows if I get bored. Since I will now get the bulk of my entertainment from online sources, I plan to do more of these reviews. Watch for them.

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