So after installing Newsbreak 2.0 from Iliumsoft and finally being able to subscribe to all my favorite video blogs, I've a few things to say about my experience:

 

Newsbreak 2.0 feels snappier

Maybe it's just the euphoria of using a new version of your favorite software but Newsbreak feels very quick and much more responsive. Navigating feeds, across categories etc feels cleaner. I still get the occasional pause when viewing news feeds with attached images. It happens when you click on a news item but back up before any images can be completely downloaded, it'll pause and wait for the image to download in the background (i think) before it becomes responsive.

New Iconography

Everyone who releases a new version of any product should, MUST jazz up the UI a little bit. Why? To give the user a sense of having spent money buying something new, even if it's a minor version release. Oh wait a minute, that sounds familiar doesn't it? ;)

New Category Views

You can assign categories, yes even custom ones, to individual feeds and view them by categories. Easy to navigate depending on your reading style. I typically jump all over the place reading feeds that are already synced while the others are still synching in the background. My only request is to have it sync by categories.

Video blogs are HUGE. 

Yes they're popular but not the HUGE I was referring to.

I have a 2GB MicroSD card and still after two days, I'm already running out of space. I subscribe to nine video blogs / podcasts and each sync, it can take up to anywhere around 400-600mb. Newsbreak tries to adjust it's storage window so that you can cache most latest video files and trashing old ones depending on the amount of storage you have. You can specify to cache 10% to 90% in increments of 10%.

Still, I run out of space too quickly. As more and more cool video blogs appear, I'd have to make sure my device can keep up with the growth. Here's the list of video blogs I subscribe to (if you're interested). I have a couple more feeds I don't subscribe to on my phone because I can't view their formats properly.

Happy Slip Productions
Diggnation (Small WMV)
Channel 9: The Videos
the show with zefrank
Ask A Ninja - iPod
Geek Entertainment TV
JETSET (psp)
this WEEK in TECH - MP3 Edition
Wine Library TV
 

Videos takes a long time to download

Videos are naturally very large and can take a while to download, even when you're on WiFi or tethered to a PC using Activesync. I would think that downloading files off a high bandwidth network would lead to a good experience, but not really. Here are some of my concerns:

  1. I find myself having to turn on WiFi and sync and when it's done, I'd have to turn it off again to save battery. Having to twiddle around with WiFi on the device is not a good experience. Perhaps we can improve that.
  2. WiFi is configured to give you the longest battery life possible, so typically it'll shutdown the radio 10 seconds after your device goes black. which irritates the hell out of me because I'd have to wake the device up and let WiFi reconnect and wakeup Newsbreak to continue download.
  3. When WiFi is on for more than 10minutes, the device is really HOT.
  4. Don't bother downloading any video blogs larger than 2-4mb on EDGE or GPRS.
  5. I can't sync when I'm on the road.

Remind me not to use any non-HDSPA, or non-UMTS devices in the future. I rely too much on data. 

 

File formats are a PAIN IN THE A$$.

Most video bloggers are Mac fans and fans of the Quicktime format. Most if not all, publish their video blogs in .MOV format. The more popular / larger ones provide feeds for many different versions to support WMV, Flash, 3GP for phones.

You'd have to deal with not having a proper video player to play them all on your device. By default, Windows Mobile ships with Media Player which handles WMV well. To play anything else, you'd need a player like TCPMP.

Even with TCPMP, I'm still finding it challenging to deal with encoding rates and playback quality. Galacticast for instance, provides feeds in iTunes, Quicktime, WMV, FLV (flash) and 3GP. I've tried them all and none of them render properly on my device. The WMV format is too choppy because it's encoded at a higher rate requiring more CPU power, FLV (incompatible format), Quicktime (too choppy), and 3GP (quality is atrocious).

The only feeds that work beautifully for me?

 JetSetShow in PSP format, TWiT (because its a podcast) and WineLibrary TV

 

 

There you have it. Great effort. Most of the issues aren't Iliumsoft's problems but more of the platform and hardware capabilities of the device.

Can't wait for HTC Wings or HTC Erato.