Joost (a.k.a. the Venice Project) is a much talked about soon to be released application that brings “the magic of television, with the power of the internet built right in” to your computer. Unlike YouTube and other free internet TV services Joost provides content from different sources like MuchMusic, Figth Network and National Geographic straight to your computer. We tested the new Beta version, released yesterday.
Joost is a 10.5mb download that installs on your computer in a few minutes. Once installed the program goes full screen and leads you through the signup process. As of now you can only sign up if you have an invite for the Beta testing but once the application is launched one has to assume the signup will be available to anyone.
Once signed up you are greeted with a menu featuring all the different channels available. You can chose from a large variety including live music performances, nature specials, gaming reviews, racing and TV shows. As of writing this the content selection is not very extensive but that is to be expected from a Beta version. Joost promises content from the Sci-Fi channel as well as the World Poker Tour, National Geographic, The Soccer Channel and numerous others.
You can view the different channels as a list or click on the Channels Catalog which along with thumbnails shows you new, most popular, staff picks and genre specific searches.
Once you pick a channel you get a choice of what episode or clip to watch. Once selected a loader page appears, some times joined by an ad for a product or company. On a standard Shaw high speed connection the loader page was up for no more than 30 seconds before the content started streaming.
While watching a show you can enter several menus. By moving the mouse a set of pop up options appear that give you the ability to control the current clip or skip to the previous or next one, go back to the channel listings or go to My Joost which is a user panel that allows you to chat with other viewers, rate the show you are watching as well as access a set of Joost Widgets which includes a clock, instant messaging, news ticker, channel chat and more.
One setback is that unlike other internet video services you can not ad your own content. There is no doubt that the reason for YouTube’s popularity is the ability to ad your own videos. On the other hand Joost is providing content that would otherwise only be available through your television so it does provide a service previously unavailable to the masses.
In use Joost is intuitive and surprisingly fast and “light” on the computer. Surfing the web and running a long series of programs including PhotoShop, DreamWeaver and email at the same time had little to no effect on Joost’s performance. In fact while writing this Joost is streaming full screen video on one of the two screens of this computer without any lag. When you turn Joost off it hides in the system tray on the bottom right hand side of the screen much like Messenger and other programs. Once clicked the program instantly resumes play wherever you left off – again without any noticeable lag.
Joosts audio and video quality is vastly superior to other internet applications such as YouTube. Not surprisingly there is some pixilation and glitches but overall the quality is impressive, especially considering that the content is being streamed over the internet.
Overall Joost is an impressive application that will revolutionize the way many people view internet TV. If the service remains free of charge and the catalogue expands to include popular TV shows it will undoubtedly become one of the most used applications out there. Joost provides true Video and TV on Demand over your broadband internet connection and caters well to special interest groups like soccer, racing and fighting fans along with the more average user. It remains to be seen how well the system holds up once the masses gets a hold of the program but for now it seems to be working the way it should and we all have something to look forward to.
To learn more about Joost or to become a beta-tester, visit www.joost.com.