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Venice Project Letting in Beta Testers

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The Venice Project, the much-awaited Internet TV project from the founders of Skype, started bringing in outside beta testers today. The beta program will be viral, with each user able to distribute invites to new testers. As soon as we give it a spin we’ll do some more in depth coverage here and on NewTeeVee.

Writes Janus Friis on his blog,

We set out to try to merge the best of TV and the best of the Internet and I think we have just taken a big step on a long journey. For a few months we have been quietly testing with a small circle of people. Now, we’re going to expand that circle – with more and more people getting invited. If you want to take it for a spin, get an invitation from an existing beta tester.

From Om: Someone who got to use the service wasn’t very kind. “To sum up, very bad interface, no text description of what the buttons mean, quality of video goes up and down very much, not really much better than a good flash file that you size up 250%.”
Exclusive screenshots beneath the fold:

175 Responses to “Venice Project Letting in Beta Testers”

  1. I’m a beta tester on TVP.

    I’d disagree that the interface is unintuitive. It’s designed like a set-top box or a DVD menu, rather than a Windows app. There are rough edges, but it’s self-consistent.

    Given the current size of the beta program, I expect most of the video would be streamed from TVP’s own boxes. So outside of Europe the connections would be slower. In the UK, it works fine: roughly VCR quality, a glitch every 15 mins or so.

    They do need to sort out the content situation though. It’s pretty much what you’d see on MTV/Discovery channel. If I had satellite TV, I’d see no reason to use it. As a tech platform they should (and can) cater to everyone.

    (And there are better ad rates for niche content!)

  2. They’re missing the point. The UI is rough, but you can get a feel for the intended experience and it’s good. I didn’t realize how much fast channel switching and programmed (the media kind of programming) channels changes the experience.

    There’s lots of complain about, limited programming, jerky video from time to time, limited features. I’m not sure any of that matters. The initial tradeoffs appear sensible from a product development perspective. They’re riding all the right trends technical and otherwise. They say it’s p2p, but i’ll bet they’re running some honkin’ supernodes…

    i put a mini-review at:

  3. I got my account this morning and was really impressed. This is the first beta of some exciting new technology. Video quality is pretty good. Some of the older clips do need to be reencoded with the new version of the encoding process.

    Also being Peer to Peer based the quality will improve as the numbe rof users increases.
    Also the datacentre is in europe so users elsewhere in the world probably suffer a bit.

    I found the user interface easy to use and pretty polished for such an early beta.
    In 2 years this thing will be embeded into STB and xboxs and who knows what else and it will be the way TV was ment to be.

    I am one happy user and look forward to even more content being added.


  4. Abel Flint

    All I want to Christmas, aside from world peace and a talking penguin is an invite to test The Venice Project… please? Last Sunday I helped a blind granny onto bus and about a year ago I gave a busker some change to change his tune… I’m a good person.

    [email protected]

  5. I am a beta-testeur (but I have no invitation any more, sorry guys) and I do not agree with the other one beta-testeur.
    There are still bugs (“beta-test”) but I test it since a month and they make very frequently improvements.
    The quality of the video is very good, the interface is a little bit complicated (but button descriptions are given now) but the client in itself is very very pleasant. I’m convinced this application will be a killer.
    Last remark, don’t forget 2 things :
    – it is a beta-test (the first public one actually, until now we were only up to ~200 testers in th world)
    – it is P2P, so the critical mass is very important : the more users, the more quality…
    And for those who understand french : here is a first description of the venice project.

  6. If you want anything like that to work in India you might wanna put up more stories like “How to Improve Broadband Speeds In India” or “Why does Tata Indicom or MTNL or Sify or Whatever Suck Big Time?”

    Internet is still in its nascent stage. In India, it’s just conceived. We got to traverse through the whole 9 months’ story, read 9 New York years, and right now we are just beginning to puke. Wifi is not even HiFi here, its Martian.

  7. Well, either the image quality on the thing is really bad, or you should use another program (or settings) for resizing pictures.
    Oh, just looked it up: you don’t resize them, but change their width in the HTML. That’s kind-of not-done: the pictures themselves aren’t bad.

  8. Mike Mathews

    This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to see, TV on the Internet. Now there’s going to be an interesting fight for TV: can it create compelling enough material to entice dedicated Internet users to tune in over all their other choices. Measurement to date has always had an unclear result because users had to switch between devices and venues and make that comparison, this changes how we measure.

    I’m available as a tester if anyone wants to send an invite.

  9. The interfaces in the screenshots remind me of Swarm and Stack from, for some reason…

    Either way, Friis knows how to make viral, hugely successful projects, so Im gonna bet that in a few months, after all the bugs are ironed out, this thing will be big.

  10. “From Om: Someone who got to use the service wasn’t very kind. “To sum up, very bad interface, no text description of what the buttons mean, quality of video goes up and down very much, not really much better than a good flash file that you size up 250%.”

    This person must not know the meaning of Beta Test

  11. Liz Ill be giving you my opinion in a few days ;)

    I was told by my contact to remember that this is pretty a pretty young version of the client and not to be too harsh …

    And make sure you log any bugs