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|Some free, some pay per view||UK and Ireland||/5|
Who's it from?
Where can I find it?
What does it offer?
A stand alone download and streaming service including original shows, US imports and movies. Some are free, some cost money.
The site looks OK. Not as pretty as the BBC, and not as hideous as ITV. A slightly odd black, red and light blue colour scheme dominates the page. Bright clashing colours on a dark background. Channel 4 has gone all nu-rave. But again, we have the huge empty space problem on the right hand side. At least the pictures are large and in focus. There is a huge button telling me to "GET 4oD ON YOUR PC NOW!" So I will...
A neat little video takes me through the steps to install, which makes me think, if they have a streaming instruction video in browser, why not streaming programmes? Eh?
The download and install takes around four minutes, but there are problems, and a repair must be done before it works. I guess these things happen. Benefit of the doubt and all that. It may be clashing with the iPlayer software already installed on the system. Why can't we all just get along?
The 4oD player actually looks pretty good. A big, full screen interface, picture driven and reminiscent of a Mac set up is what you get. ["It's all very well to have a "Mac like" interface....when the service doesn't work on Macs - FAIL" - infiniteloop, from the forums].
Also, there is a huge selection of programming. When I say huge, I mean HUGE. Definitely the best I've seen. It's not just a catch up service unlike other channels, but a true attempt to offer quality programming from the past and present. Sadly, it's not the easiest navigation. It could have been made much easier with a less jumbled set up. Really, what is the point of having two categories, one marked "Don't Miss" and the other named "4oD Recommends"? What precisely is the difference between these two?
I think I may be nitpicking here. Time to get down to business. It's streaming time! Two clicks and I'm away, with an episode of Modern Toss. Pre-roll adverts straight away, and I'm told that they are there to stop me being bored while the video loads. Stop that Channel 4. You are a commercial broadcaster. We are not stupid. The ads are not keep us entertained, they are there to make you money. Stop being faux chummy and make with the show!
It does look pretty good. Small screen is crystal clear, and inevitably the full screen is blurry, but it is bearable. In a stroke of genius, 4OD offer a mid-sized screen. A perfect compromise - the Goldilocks solution that so many services lack. Not too blurry, not too small. Just right!
Speed and Quality
Downloading is a simple click-and-go affair, but speeds are not speedy. For a forty-two minute episode of Shameless, it takes around 90 minutes to download, but I'll stick with it.
While I wait, let's talk pricing. Most shows, thankfully, are free. Movies cost £2.99 to rent, available for a measly 48 hours after the first play, and 28 days after download. Premium US content costs £1.99 and other shows cost 99p. Same DRM restrictions apply. I'm fine paying for film content but charging any money for ad supported programming freely available on television seems greedy and a little wrong.
Ping! Shameless is delivered! Picture quality is excellent as you would expect from a broadcaster like Channel 4. No subtitles, so that's one nil to the BBC. Little else to report. It's a Ronseal moment. Exactly what it says on the tin. High quality downloads. Shame it took so long.
Download Monkey's conclusion...
So, undoubtedly, 4oD has one of the greatest selections of on demand programming available on any service. The interface is alright, it could be more streamlined, but it is not terrible. The site does have a tendency to freeze up which proves frustrating after the third time. If this were to continue I would find myself abandoning it pretty damn quick, so for now I'm putting this down to it still being in beta. But this does need resolving. And quickly. Steaming videos are excellent - the medium screen size is genius. Downloads are slow, but high quality as expected.
I still don't see the point in forcing people to download software to watch streaming video when they can be embedded in browser. It is an excellent service, but I cannot abide by charging for television shows already broadcast. That's the only real drawback here.
4oD Review by VonTurbo
- 05 April 2008, 11:04
- Reviewer: Download Monkey
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