Back in April I talked a little bit about Yahoo! Go for TV here and here. None of this will have any interest for you unless you are into HTPCs so you can just ignore this post, or read it anyway until you realize what a waste of your time this was.
Here is the body of my initial review from April. Not much has changed:
Yahoo! Go for TV was released in the last 24 hours, so I went ahead and downloaded it to check it out. It is definitely Meedio in disguise, with a bunch of missing stuff.
I am fairly biased toward my review, as I paid for Meedio, and then paid for the “pro” version later, with the hopes that the TV portion would
eventually be improved to where I could replace BTV with it. No such luck. BeyondTV always kicked Meedio’s ass as far as PVR capabilities, and supported hardware. Yahoo! Go is free, so that is a bonus, but as a paying user of Meedio, it ticks me off. Not that I regret it. I got what I paid for, a fully functional front-end that my family could use with a single remote. It is great for watching movies, viewing pictures, and listening to music.
Anyway, on to Yahoo! Go.
It was a fairly small download compared to some others I have checked out at 9MB. Quick and easy install, then runs the setup wizard. You enter your yahoo username if you have one. I don’t know what happens if you don’t, so can’t say much there, as I do. It prompts you the locations of your pictures, music, and videos. Since I don’t have any TV tuners in my test system (my desktop), there was nothing for me to set up there.
Once the install was finished, I eagerly started the app. It comes up with a nice clean theme, purple in color. Nice, my favorite. There are seven menu options. I will go through each in turn.
First there is movies. Once you have selected a menu option, the right hand side brings up several more. Under movies, there are Top Box Office, Today’s Features, My Theaters, Local Theaters, and DVD Player. Top Box Office is a detailed listing of what is currently out in the theaters with synopsis, trailers, and cast listings. This is kind of a nice feature. Today’s features looks to be a listing of upcoming theater releases, with the same kind of stuff as Top Box Office. My theaters probably gives you a list of your favorite theaters IF you have set them up on your yahoo account. Since I use Fandango anyway, this was pretty much useless to me. Local theaters predictably gives a listing of…Local Theaters!!. Damn. It also gives you a list of movies that are currently playing there, and you can get to the same Detailed listing that is in Top Box Office. DVD player takes you into what I guess is the stock Meedio internal DVD player. Since I use an external program for this (Theatertek), this option was pretty useless. All in all, the entire movies menu section was pretty useless to me. No way to set up my DVD software, no way to add in my own movies (I have about 250 ripped to my hard drive, or recorded from BeyondTV).
The next option is Music. OK, here are the guts to my HTPC system. If it weren’t for music (I have about 9000 mp3s) I would just run BeyondTV and be done with it. In the music menu, we have several options. First is LAUNCHkast. This is an extremely well done module. I have used shoutcast with Meedio, and set up internet radio through it, but this kicks ass. Next is Music Videos. Just the crap that is online at Yahoo though. No way to set it up for local music videos that I may have downloaded from itunes, or from bands websites. If I want to see crappy music videos, I can tune to MTV or VH1. Next is “On your PC”. This gives an explorer-like view of your music directory. I have all of my music arranged in ArtistAlbum directories, so it makes it easy to traverse. Once you select “On your PC”, it brings up the artist listing, and there is a menu option to “play all”. It does not work. You actually have to drill down into the Album directory so that the actual music files show up on the screen in order to select tracks, at which point you are thrown into the Now Playing screen (also a default Meedio behavior). The music player is OK, but there are no options to play protected itunes music, I was not able to find any way to add multiple albums or artists to my playlist, and I hate the way that you have to traverse it. If I want to fool around with explorer, I will open explorer and increase the fucking font size. The next two options are CD player (pretty obvious what this does) and Now Playing. No options in now playing to launch any kind of eye candy, or to look at lyrics.
Next is Photos. There are four options in this menu. First is My Yahoo! Photos. Fine if you have your stuff uploaded to Yahoo Photos. I don’t. I use flickr, or my own web site. Next is Shared Yahoo Photos. It prompts you to enter the Yahoo ID of a friend, then you get to see the photos. Next is pretty cool. Flickr. The last things I want to look at is 500,000 flickr photos. No way to search for a particular flickr account, or even set up my own (which oh, by the way, yahoo DOES own, and my yahoo account is LINKED to). Good idea, shitty result. Last option is “On my PC”. Decent photo viewer to show off your My Pictures stuff to company. From past experience, just make sure that you only keep your final edited pics here. Keep the crap somewhere else, otherwise you end up showing off your upside-down sideways, shitty pictures of body parts that you don’t want your mom to see. Oh, wait, that was a different day.
Next is the TV option. Since I don’t have a TV tuner in my box, this shouldn’t even show up in the fucking menu. Since it does, I checked it out. Each screen under this menu just tells you that TV is not currently configured. No shit. If I wanted to see this, I would have configured it.
Next is Videos (as opposed to movies?). Why not just keep this under the movies menu, or combine the two of them. First option is Featured videos. Short trailers and clips of TV shows. Watch the damn commercial instead. Next is Top Web Searches (The Most Sought after Videos). Need I say that this is crap. Actually it’s not all that bad. User uploaded videos to yahoo. Next is Search. Search for videos on Yahoo. OK, pretty self-explanatory. Last is On My PC. During setup, you are given the option to specify the default video directory. Since I have over a TB in about eight different drives and directories across my network, this just pissed me off. It played the wmvs fine, but since half of my stuff is ripped DVDs that have been compressed, it wouldn’t do anything at all with these. Damn, that sucked.
Next option is settings. No way to change ANY of the settings in Yahoo! Go TV.
Bottom of the list is Exit, which I did, right after going through everything.
Pretty much what I expected from a beta version. It’s nicely put together, with most of the work leaning heavily toward the online experience, which I expected considering that it is yahoo. It shows a lot of promise. Enough that I will keep it on here, and upgrade to the next beta. Since I have a running version of Meedio on here too, I was able to hack it somewhat, and try out the yahoo modules in it. No go with that. There is also no weather module, which sucks. The stuff that is good really rocks, but for the most part, I found it pretty much useless. On one hand, it is free, which is nice, AND it may prompt Snapstream to fix the problems that it has with the crappy Beyond Media so that it doesn’t lose any customers. Yahoo has enough pull, and money, to make this a pretty decent software if it wants to.
If you are not into HA and HTPCs and have actually made it this far and still don’t know what the fuck I am talking about, don’t worry about it. Mainly I am just blowing off steam, and getting a post in 🙂
They released a new beta version recently. I just downloaded it and installed it on my personal machine, since the HTPC in my bedroom is non-functional, and I won’t put any more crappy beta software on the living room PC. I an also running Windows Vista RC1 on this machine, so I figured it might make for an interesting combination.
Right off the bat I noticed a few things.
1. Still no way to change any kind of meaningful settings or change the menus without modifying files.
2. I couldn’t get into anything that uses my Yahoo account until I brought up my web browser and manually logged OUT first. This is a pain in the ass and a deal breaker. It means that I can’t use my account on two separate PCs.
3. I have my movies and ripped DVDs spread over the network in three or four different directories. I can only set it to access one directory and since I went ahead and picked the default settings, it uses “My Videos” as the directory. That’s fine for movies and videos I created, but doesn’t help me access the other 197 movies that I currently have online.
4. Still stuck with the default DVD player and not able to use your own. This doesn’t seem like it should be a deal breaker, but anyone into media centers and HTPCs usually uses either Zoom Player, or Theatertek and loves them. I personally use Theatertek and am not going to start using something else.
5. I also use BTV for my PVR. I consider it the best PVR software out there, it kicks everything Else’s ass, but there is no way to configure external players. You also cannot access the TV guide unless you configure the TV tuners first.
6. The music library is still folder based rather than library based. This actually is not a huge issue, if Yahoo could find a way to support iTunes protected music, or perhaps interface with itunes, I would be happy with it. I hear that TVedia supports itunes protected music. I don’t know about movies and videos, but I may try it out next.
Overall, without having read any of the release documentation yet but just setting it up and using it, I would have to say that this is more of a bugfix release. No changes or additions yet. I am going to download TVedia and see how it does next and will review it here as well.