Justin.Tv HD reviewed : High Def Streams But Missing The Small Details.
At the end of a long day there's nothing more than I like to do that kickback, relax and switch the brain off by watching the idiot latern (TV). With more repeats on TV than ever I find myself looking to the internet more and more to keep myself entertained without burning a hole in my pocket with iTunes series links. Reality TV has never been my thing but Justin.TV / Twitch.TV takes this to a new level with games casting alongside chat interaction with the caster. It's not clear if JUSTIN.TV HD is officially supported and whilst it's not been updated in quite a while, it provides a handy Twitch.tv backup but at £6.99 I'm looking at this and thinking is it worth that expense, especially as newer versions of Twitch.TV for iOS now has higher bitrate streams.
At the end of a long day there's nothing more than we want to do than to kick back, relax and watch something on TV. With more repeats on TV than ever we find ourselves looking to the Internet to keep ourselves amused on site night I like to settle down and relax whilst watching Justin.TV
For those unfamiliar with the service, Justin.TV lets you broadcast content to the web, be it videos, gaming or TV shows and films to the world. Users can "follow" you to receive notifications when you are going live with your stream and chat along with you and other viewers at the same time.
The dreaded network error still rears it's head but thankfully no where near as much. When you find your head bashing against a network error, switch over the the Twitch.TV app (that incidentally also isn't without issues)
Selecting a stream of interest is a breeze, broken down in to genre and category alongside the search facility. There can be 100's of streams at any given point of the day to watch with more streams being live when it's clocking off time in America. There are a few uk broadcasters but not that many from what I've seen in the last 6 months of religious Justin.TV usage.
The iPad app has been given a nice overhaul, looking crisp and sharper due to running at the iPad's native resolution, forgoing the need to use the dreaded 2x button on the previous incarnation of this app.
Streams do appear to load quicker than using the iPhone application and perhaps this is due to some different trans-coding settings for the iPad.
As it stands from the first glances of testing the stream quality is definitely higher, colours are richer and more pronounced only don't have that feeling of being magnified us what would happen in the previous version of this application. Remember that our screen shots are compressed on upload but do give a fair representation of the quality of streaming.
There Are several key features missing Justin.tv HD. To start with the chat feature has been completely removed taking away that social interaction element which makes up a bit part of what streaming online with a service like this is all about.
Well it turns out that I'm wrong and there is something "chat like" in the application that we discovered purely by accident. If you are prepared to do some black magic and perform some ritualistic chanting you can see, almost, what the chat looks like. The trick? Start the app in portrait mode, start a stream, then rotate into landscape mode and you'll see the chat bar at the bottom. As of yet nothing happens in chat and we don't know if this is a server error or us casting the wrong spell.
Another big feature that's missing is the ability to follow the channel. On the desktop or iPhone if you find a stream worthy of following you can do so and get notified when that caster is live again. As this is missing on the HD version of Justin.tv you find yourself hunting around for the channel you've just watched, if say you've quit out of the application. Mining through channels at times can become quite tiresome.
Next up, meet your new best friend, the Network Error message as, like that annoying neighbour, you're going to be seeing a lot of it. Some of the streams we tried to watch refused point blank to load almost coming up with the error message before trying. Why this happens on some streams and not others is anyone's guess as there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. It's just incredibly annoying to get the network error message on some streams and not others.
Try as we might we couldn't get the Wi-Fi, Time, battery menu at the top to fade into the background such as it does on the iPhone version. This leaves the Done button slightly hidden by the menu. In the iPhone application that done button disappears into the background and is only showing when you tap the screen. It's only a slight niggle but detracts from the viewing experience.
This is definitely a case of one step forward two steps back. Presentation of the available streams is a great improvement as is the higher resolution streaming which definitely shines through, making it more of a shame that some of the key features have been removed.
It still has a long way to go to catch up with a lot of uStream*. Granted it's a big improvement over pressing the 2x button on the iPhone version yet this seems to come at the cost of sacrificing some of the programs essential features.
By far and away the biggest let-down is the cost. Priced at £6.99 this seems incredibly steep given the feature set. It is worth remembering that you get no adverts in any of the streams so perhaps this is the trade-off of having no follow and chat feature.
If you have money to waste all I can say is please read the user reviews who suffer the same issues as I do when using this. Justin.tv HD - Justin.tv
Update. This may be a UK only thing where we dont get advverts
Justin.tv hd Broken chat.
There's been a number of changes since we last reviewed this application and both twitch and Justin have updated their sites and api protocols. So although chat will work you will see a lot of gibberish on the screen like you see in the screen shot below.
Another interesting side note is that if a stream fails to load in twitch there is a very good chance it will load in Justin.tv hd but that doesn't change my overall conclusion. £6.99 is still a lot to pay for an application when not all the streams will load.
What to do if you find that Justin.Tv HD chat doesn't seem to like you.
As bizarre as it may seem try loading your channel with your iPad in portrait mode. Once chat has loaded then rotate your iPad back to landscape mode. This is particularly the case with twitch iOS app as well
*uStream might look better but the content clearly aimed at different viewers. For the sake of this comparison we looked at the gaming categories.
Update 6th June
Version 1.1 Released May 2nd.
We've managed to get some hands on time with the updated version and glad to report that a lot of the issues above have been resolved. There's still the bug that annoys the life out of me. If you leave a stream at any point, come back to the app and that stream is offline and your in landscape mode there's no on screen button to take you back to the apps front page. To get around this you rotate your iPad, wait for screen to rotate, press done and that gets you to somewhere usefull.
For those interested I've taken a look at the Twitch.TV app for iOS which is a whole bag of hurt. Often you'll find that if a stream doesn't load in Twitch for iOS it may just load in the Justin.TV app