Saturday, 14 July 2012

BBC Olympics app - no tablet love?

I was quite excited to see this week's release of a new BBC Olympics app on the Android platform, though I  was extremely surprised to see that it was on smartphones only. Considering the app will indeed let users stream any of the 24 channels that I'll be recording, it's nothing short of astounding that Android tablets with their much larger screens can't have the same treatment. Bang goes watching it on my HP TouchPad with CyanogenMod 9 then :-(

One thing such a tablet-based app would have been good for would have been a 24-channel live video mosaic (e.g. 6 by 4 or 8 by 3) and then you just touch the appropriate channel rectangle to switch to fullscreen for that live channel (and maybe I do the same with my plasma TV setup by switching my live feed on there to match). You can't really do that sort of mosaic idea on a small mobile screen, so for the BBC not to release a tablet version is quite disappointing. Maybe they'll do a new version just before the Olympics start that does include tablets?

BTW, I've registered for the 30-day free trial of Eurosport Player on my 50" Panasonic Viera plasma smart TV today. Annoyingly, I had to put my debit card details in, despite it being a £0.00 transaction. This is done in the hope you'll forget to cancel at the end of the free trial (13th August - day after the closing ceremony), at which point they take £4.99 a month. By then, the Olympics and Tour De France will be done, so I'll cancel.

Up to 5 channels are available to pick from, but some obvious negative points are the decidedly non-HD picture quality, ad breaks, occasional "ERROR" screens on a black background that don't recover back to the normal picture automatically and the large ever-present red and white solid Eurosport logo (except during ad breaks!). An even bigger black mark to Eurosport, though, for using Silverlight to power the desktop version of their player - why not Flash or HTML 5 which have far more penetration on desktop browsers than Silverlight? Overall, the experience is only an average one - tolerable for free, but certainly not worth paying for. Plus I hate any TV channel that can't be downloaded/recorded for later viewing at a later time, especially one that's paid and with ads!

And, finally, there's a new "Post Olympics" page available where I explain what I'll be doing with the kit once the closing ceremony finishes on 12th August.

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