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ITV Player follows in the footsteps of the BBC I-Player – an online service offering the opportunity to watch the shows you have missed for up to 28 days after they are first aired. For those without a DVD recorder of a VCR this service offers an excellent opportunity to catch up.
This service was a new experience for me and having read several reviews as to the poor quality of the programmes screened I wasn’t expecting an awful lot. However I made my way to ITV.co.uk and followed the link for ITV Player. The website is extremely accessible and very user friendly. The ITV Player link takes you to a sub site specifically adapted to allow the user to find the programme/show they wish to watch and then to watch it.
I was seeking Wuthering Heights, Part 2 having seen Part 1 last Sunday evening. The show wasn’t available online immediately after airing on ITV but I found it had been uploaded the next day and was being advertised on the main page.
The site offers 5 shows as “today’s choice” with options of a drop down list offering shows alphabetically or by the programme title you wish to watch as well as a link to the Soaps. There is also a “most viewed” list with the top 5 most viewed programmes on the Player.
Once you click on the programme you wish to watch you go to a page which details the programme title, length, a brief synopsis and any warnings such as mild swearing, violence and sexual scenes, as warned for Wuthering Heights. If you are choosing a programme that is part of a series you get the option to choose any one of the programmes which have been aired within the 28 days. On clicking the desired programme you are presented with a small screen which works just like Windows Media, there is a start/stop option, a pause button, rewind/fast forward button and slider which tells you when the programme is playing/buffering and also buttons to offer a full screen and volume changes.
On clicking play I was presented with an advert for Aviva the brand currently sponsoring ITV 1 dramas. I found that once the advert ended I had to rewind and go back to the beginning twice for the programme to start automatically. This meant I watched 3 adverts before the programme began.
Once started, I found that the buffering system didn’t really keep up and for the first 10 minutes of the programme I was unable to watch it properly. The screen was hindered by pauses which did catch up but it was quite frustrating. The same happened when I rewound the programme. Problems like this could also be down to the speed of the internet connection.
However after the first 10 minutes of technical problems the other 1hr 20minutes went without a hitch. From reading previous reviews on ITV Player I was expecting lengthy breaks with lots of adverts sporadically placed throughout the programme. This wasn’t the case; the adverts were scheduled as they would be on the television. However they weren’t as lengthy. For example the Aviva sponsorship advert was followed by 3 short Natwest banking adverts before the programme resumed.
The quality of the programme wasn’t as it would be on your LCD/Plasma television, but it wasn’t too bad. Some of the picture became grainy/pixilated, especially when there was a dark background or a lot of fast movement, but overall I would say that for an internet stream the quality was quite good, certainly much better than the first 10 minutes would have led me to believe.
Also, I watched Wuthering Heights in full screen. As I write this review I have it playing in the background on small screen and the quality looks better. The pixilation is less noticeable on a small screen, so I would imagine if it caused a problem you could always watch your selection on the smaller screen. The sound quality was also very good; it was clear and in no way distorted.
The length of the programme is monitored on the slide at the bottom; it tells you how many minutes you are into the programme. In the case of the programme I was watching it told me how many minutes until the end of the part, the slide then began recounting once the adverts had finished so you could work out when the next set of adverts would begin.
I cannot compare this service to others of its kind because I haven’t the experience to do so, however based on my one-time experience I would certainly use the ITV Player again in the future and would recommend others do too if they have missed something they had wished to watch.
It is frustrating that it freezes all the time and you are disturbed by the amound of advertising between the sections of each programme. Really annoying. BBC iPlayer is 100 times better.
Ruby.xo 03.10.2009 13:07
I've tried watching programmes on this but the quality's never any good and I agree the buffering take ages. 4od used to be good but they've stopped it now. Great review xx
jesi 17.09.2009 11:31
I think starting and stopping would drive me mad . . . it possibly also would be affected by the amount of cache you have and available RAM, as I am sure it takes up quite a bit of active memory while it is running (even your computer's processor speed could affect it; I wouldn't even attempt it on my old laptop!)
. . . ♥ jes ♥