You all know my excitement for Over the Top TV due to our overwhelming success so far with our Roku channels, heck thousands of you are watching my show on the Roku every day. Since January we have known the Popbox was coming, and my team at RawVoice really wanted to have channels ready for the device. Sadly we did not get invited to their developers program until just recently, even after personal chats with the Popbox folks at both CES and SXSW. I was told at SXSW that the device would have a lot of premium, high value content on it, and that is how they were going to set themselves apart from the competition.
Yesterday when I received the Popbox that I purchased on Amazon I was surprised to find that the unit did not come with WiFi, and that they had a second model available that had a WiFi Dongle for an extra $20.00. My advice to Popbox kill the wired only model no one wants to run cables. So today after stringing a network cables to get it hooked to the network on my big screen here are my thoughts about 60 minutes into playing with it.
First shocker only 10 channels, plus no Netflix that was promoted back in January? Our competitor in the space Mediafly was not in the channel list either which we fully expected so I am not sure what the deal is with that. Does that indicate that Popbox does not want any user generated content on the device? Time will tell. While I understand they are promoting this box as a media center of sorts to play your pictures and your personal media. They could have had at least four more channels from us if they would have gotten us into their developer program.
When I loaded the Channel from Revision Three, the videos loaded pretty fast resulting in a pretty good experience, the one thing I did notice is that the menu system required me to do a lot of clicking to change channels and get to content. You have to exit each channel, then load the next, it is not easy to quickly navigate the menu system.I am sure this is a limitation of the software running the device.
I loaded the YouTube application, went to my show channel, clicked on my latest show and guess what it never played. I played some other YouTube videos, and they are simply slow to start, it appears to me that they are not using the flash media, but instead are using the physical media file. Probably the reason my show did not load is that the file I send to YouTube is over 900 megs.
Other videos in other channels loaded and played ok, the video quality is pretty good. I am sure that the Popbox folks will face the same challenges that the Roku folks did, but the Roku now has tons of content/channels. If the barrier to entry on channel development costs to be in the Popbox are as high as they are to be in the Roku then I am gonna have to really weigh my options on whether we develop for this device or not in lieu of the Vudu etc.
Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, they are going to have to get a lot more channels in the device in a hurry. Google TV is coming and in order to compete they are going to have to get a lot of content in their that makes it worthwhile for folks to purchase.