The BBC recently released a big update to iPlayer, replacing the original, Windows only Download Manager with iPlayer Desktop
. As it’s built on Adobe Air, it’s now compatible with Linux and Mac OS X as well as XP and Vista.
This new update also coincides with the introduction of 720p HD content. The easiest way to find HD content on iPlayer at the moment is to browse by channel, and go to the BBC HD channel
If you want more details, PC Pro has a full review
of the new software, but from a quick play around with it over the weekend, my three word verdict would be:
Cleaner, faster, prettygoodallroundifnotamazing.
I never had much of a complaint with the previous iPlayer application though - but I was keen to see some HD programmes. Quality is definitely improved over SD programmes, albeit not dramatically. You also get a widescreen picture, so there’s slightly more of the image compared to the SD version, too.
Only certain programmes are available in HD so far, and it seems a fairly random selection – does anyone really need to watch Last of the Summer Wine in eye-popping, wrinkle-picking 720p?
That said, it’s good to see the BBC is following YouTube and starting to embrace HD video on the web. Those who usually get TV through a set-top box (for example, Virgin cable or Sky) will also benefit as you can now watch HD content without needing to upgrade your set-top box.
Have you tried iPlayer in HD yet? Any thoughts on the service? Let me know in the comments.