Nintendo Wii latest device to support BBC iPlayer
Irrespective of your views in the battle between the BBC iPlayer and the ISPs, its popularity amongst the public is driving its implementation onto more devices. The latest device to gain access to streamed iPlayer content is the Nintendo Wii. Anthony Rose in a BBC Internet Blog goes into the detail of iPlayer on the Wii.
The immediate thing that jumps out at you, is that the Internet Channel needs to be installed on the Wii at a cost of £3.50 (500 Wii points) for the iPlayer web site at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer to work. If demand for a Wii optimised iPlayer appears it is possible that this fee may be avoided by the BBC providing a dedicated Wii player.
One thing worth noting is that while the streaming iPlayer normally uses video encoded at 500Kbps, to keep the quality of video reasonable a bit rate of 820Kbps has had to be used. This means that a broadband line capable of sustaining 1Mbps speeds for the length of the streamed show will be needed.
The Nintendo Wii is different compared to iPhone, Mac, and PC for viewing content as it is very likely to be connected to a big screen TV in the lounge, so it will be interesting to see what the public reaction is to the quality of the video when viewed on a 26", 32" or even 40" screen sizes. The quality may well be preferable to that of a VHS recording of the show and without the need to remember to program the video recorder or PVR people will be able to see stuff that they would have otherwise missed. Remember it is of course possible to connect your Mac or PC to many modern TV's as most modern video cards support a DVI output which with the correct cable can be connected to a HDMI socket. The older standard was a S-Video output but this generally gives a much lower quality image than DVI.
The Nintendo Wii may look an odd choice, but in terms of units sold in the UK at some 2.6 million it is beating the XBox 360 which numbers around 2.1 million and the Sony PS3 with 1.2 million consoles.
Update 15th April 2008: It seems that the Sony Playstation 3 has not missed out on the iPlayer game, an enterprising sole has created a wrapper around the iPlayer website that allows you to play the flash video on your PS3. The site can be accessed from the PS3 web browser via ps3iplayer.com.
Unfortunately the video does not play back full screen, so hopefully this is something the BBC can solve when it finally releases a PS3 version. The low encoding rate becomes very obvious on a large screen particularly when a lot of movement happens, but if viewed from across a large lounge it is watchable if it is the only way of catching up on a lost show.