I like to watch T.V. But in my multi-tasking life, I like to get more than one thing done at a time. This past January, we purchased an elliptical and put it right in front of one of our computers so we could watch downloaded episodes of our favorite shows.

Most of my shows are on ABC, NBC and Fox. I don’t watch anything on CBS (sorry, all you CSI fans). In my comparisons of the three players , I’ve come to the following conclusion:
They are all good, but one is superior. But it’s superior for me, and here’s why:

The Fox network has figured out that people want to watch their T.V. like they do on a DVD- no commercials and very minor pauses between section breaks. When you watch a Fox show online, it moves to the next section of the show without you having to do anything.

For most people, the commercials on NBC and ABC are no big deal. They last for 15 seconds at most before a little pop up says “Click here to continue”. Once you click that pop up your show starts again.

However, for those of us huffing and puffing through a show, we have to get off the machine, move to the computer, click on the click to continue and then move back to the elliptical.

I wonder how Fox can afford to post their episodes without commercial breaks. (Maybe it’s because they roll around in money at breakfast after American Idol is on.) While their model is the best, because there are absolutely no breaks, the dramatic tension caused by a break with even one commercial is lost. But at least I don’t have to get off my elliptical when I watch one of their shows. It just keeps going, without me having to do anything!

However, they don’t post their shows until a week after some of them air.

All in all, the usability on these players is excellent. High def streaming, good sound quality, makes you feel like you are watching on a TV.

Just another example how usability can be dependent on factors the developers never even thought of. And how executive decisions about revenue stream can affect usability without anyone even realizing or thinking about it.


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