Several years ago, my wife and I made the decision that we weren't going to pay for TV. To be quite honest, we couldn't get cable or satellite where we lived so it was a forced decision. With the exception of a one year subscription to a satellite dish company, we haven't paid for television since.
Where we currently live we could have any number of "pay" television services, but we choose not to subscribe. We have even gone as far as not to have an antenna, because we want to feel better about ourselves and say we don't watch TV. We do subscribe to high speed internet though, which we could not live without.
To be honest, we do watch quite a few TV shows, just not on the television. We will watch a TV show through a network website (I am addicted to Survivor), rent a DVD on Netflix, subscribe to a video podcast, or use YouTube.
So imagine my excitement when I acquired an invite to Joost.
Joost was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (the creators of Skype, which is now owned by Ebay). Joost's site says that it's "powered by a secure, efficient, piracy-proof Internet platform that enables premium interactive video experiences while guaranteeing copyright protection for content owners and creators". It's a cool new way to watch TV, but over the internet!
The Interface is really slick, and the video quality is great! Mind you, Joost is not like the YouTube player where the videos are downloaded to your computer in the background, and then play from your hard disk. Joost actually streams the content to you over a Peer to Peer network. And just like "normal" TV, it has advertising but these ads are infrequent.
What can you watch on Joost? This is a challenging question to answer: it depends on where you are located. Joost seems to be geographically sensitive. Many users are reporting different sets of channels.
Pixelspread published an exhaustive list of all reported channels, if you're interested. I have installed Joost on two separate computers in my home, and I can report that I am missing some channels on my laptop that I have on my desktop machine.
The videos are clean and clear, and channel surfing is very well done; it is very easy to switch from one channel to another.
Some of the content highlights include National Geographic documentaries, Rocky and Bullwinkle Cartoon Classics, and organic cooking shows.
Some of the content doesn't really appeal to my taste. For example, Bollywood music videos (Savvn) and old reality television shows (Lazy TV US).
Joost recently signed a deal allowing Viacom to be a key content partner. Viacom plans to offer a full range of programming for free. Under the agreement there will be content from MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures. Over the last couple of weeks, Joost has also signed deals with other content providers.
I have used many internet television delivery options. The speed at which the content is streamed on Joost is superior, and I have experienced little delay in delivery. I've rarely experienced a stutter or stoppage of content from Joost. It should be noted that my desktop computer is under the specifications, and despite this Joost performs very well.
Joost does use quite a bit of bandwidth as is mentioned on their website. During an hour of viewing, the application will download 320mb of data, and upload 105mb. If your ISP has a 10gb cap, you'll exceed that in around 10 hours. It's also worth noting that Joost will consume bandwidth when it's minimised and you're not actually watching anything, so they suggest quitting the application if your bandwidth is limited. In short, if you have an ISP that has caps on bandwith, you may run in to problems with Joost.
Right now Joost’s beta is closed to the public and is strictly invitation only. Before you ask: no, I don't have any invitations! But many folks have received an email telling them that they'll be invited to the service soon, and that they haven't been forgotten.
It will be interesting to see how their network holds up when Joost comes out of beta in the next couple of weeks. I will be sure to keep you up to date.