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Home » Featured, Reviews

BBC iPlayer review; watch again?

Submitted by on Tuesday, 2 December 20082 Comments

Back in the days of the old PS3 Attitude site, we reported on an unofficial implementation of the BBC iPlayer. The iPlayer is a free service open to those of us in the UK and Eire that allows us to watch BBC programmes online, either to catch up or – as the BBC is fond of saying – watch again.

Yesterday, the BBC launched their own official version of the BBC iPlayer for the PS3. So how does it compare with the sterling work of the person that created the unofficial version, and does it work well enough that you would actually use it?

The problem with the unofficial version was that programmes would start well, but would invariably stutter a lot through playback. The action would pause for a good two or three seconds whilst the data was being buffered.

The good news is that, in tests carried out this morning, the official BBC iPlayer exhibits none of these problems.

When you first visit the iPlayer, you are greeted with a modified version of the PC interface, designed for the console viewer in mind. You can browse programmes by channel, recency or popularity and there is an A-Z feature.

On viewing a programme you are given a basic screen that you can zoom into using the R3 button. This makes the video virtually fill the screen. I say ‘virtually’ because the size of the video leaves some room at the bottom to allow for the status bar.

The status bar itself allows you to skip forward or backward, change volume and add subtitles.

The only issue I have found with the iPlayer is that in 1080i mode you have to change your ‘character size’ in the browser to ‘Standard’. Those of you (and I think there will be many) who need to have this option on ‘+2’ for other websites will find that you are now going to have to switch font size options regularly if you intend to use the iPlayer a lot. On +2 the fonts are just way too big and it makes reading the programme information difficult.

Other than that (fixable) issue, the BBC iPlayer performs very well. Finally, something I don’t mind paying a licence fee for…