Catching up on BBC TV shows while traveling just become a little easier with the announcement in the BBC Internet Blog that devices which support Windows Media protected content will now be able to play files.
To get the files onto the portable device involves downloading them to your computer and then loading across the USB cable or what ever connection the portable device uses. The files themselves are WMV format encoded at 500Kbps with a 128Kbps audio stream and are a direct download from the www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer website, to give an example of the file size Big Cat Live which is a one hour show is 254MB (megabytes).
The list of devices tested by the BBC is shown below, it is not an exhaustive list.
One annoying feature of the way Windows Media DRM works and the lack of connectivity on many of the devices is that for the video to play you will have to play it for a few seconds using Windows Media Player on a PC so that the licence file is downloaded and available when the video is synced to your mobile device. This stops people from using other computing devices that can otherwise access the iPlayer website.
Anthony Rose also reveals something of what seems to be an ongoing area of discussion about why the iPod and iPhone do not have download options yet. Namely that Apple has not licensed its DRM technology to third parties, the end result of this is an ongoing battle between people finding ways of downloading MP4 files from the iPlayer site to let them play them on any MP4 compatible device.
One big advantage for many will be that these downloads do not require the installation of any software from the BBC, and as its a download, playback should be without the stutter that can occur when watching streamed video over an Internet connection.