I got an invite to Voddler a while back (only open to Swedish people), it’s an application for watching streaming movies (and to some degree TV-shows). When I first tried out the application it crashed right out of the box, couldn’t get it running. So I gave up. Today I tried it again in an attempt to give it a fair review. And boy am I disappointed.
These guys don’t know what they’re doing. This is my instant feeling toward this application. It is so bad I hardly even know where to start. But I guess I’ll go in the order in which I discovered the problems.
First I might say a little disclaimer, the application is still in Alpha so it is very rough and instability is quite acceptable, a couple of problems are highly fixable but some are not.
It is utterly clear that Voddler isn’t developed for the Mac, I don’t think any of them have ever used a Mac, they have no idea how applications are supposed to be installed and I suspect that they’re running a virtual machine to simulate a windows-like environment in which to run their application. Anyway, you have to download a .pkg and double click it to go through the classical “next, next, next, install” dialog install procedure that is typical to Windows. On a Mac, all you should have to do to install an application is drag the icon into the Applications folder. But that’s not the worst part, they require you to give the application your root password. This is just totally absurd, for any application that isn’t extremely tightly coupled to development and core modification you should never have to give your away your root password, it is just so unexplainably bad practice to require that. It is so bad that I wanted to say no and stop installing the crap right there, but I decided to give it a chance.
The installation-process stuff they could probably fix in the future when they put more resources and focus into the Mac market, this point however they can’t fix. The whole interface is completely wrong in every way. They could not have done this any worse. I’m not talking about design, that part is pretty good. What I can not accept is how the application completely takes over your entire computer, rendering it about as useful as a DVD player. It will not allow you to run in windowed mode and it will not allow you to use your mouse. Everything is keyboard-navigated and the whole interaction-process with the application is utterly unnatural and deeply confusing. I usually understand applications pretty quick but here I had to spend 5 minutes just figuring out how the fuck I should navigate a form to log in and then how to use the actual application. In every video-application in the world the space-bar means pause; not in Voddler though.
On top of this, the application doesn’t run full screen and you can’t change the resolution, this is because I run my screen at 1080p and the Voddler application is set to running 720p. If you run anything but 720p you can’t use the application because you can’t change the resolution. This is obviously a bug in some sort of auto-detection thingy so I can overlook it in an alpha release, but it makes the application unusable for now.
I can fully understand their choice to build the application this way if they were simultaneously developing some hardware box that ran Voddler that you could connect to your TV, so the hardware box and was their actual source of income. This would be a superb business-model but I’ve so far not seen anything about them doing so. If the people developing this are not completely retarded they will be releasing a hardware-box that you can connect to your TV, making the application somewhat useful.
The Voddler application is riddled with bad practice application development. Things you simply should not do if you respect your customers. Besides the requiring root access, they install a background-process that they automatically add to your Startup Items so it’s guaranteed to be running all the time. This background-process seems to be handling all the network activity, sending and receiving video. If they plan to cut their streaming costs by some solution like Spotify (P2P’ing content between users) in the future, this means that they will be sucking my bandwidth whether I have the actual video-application running or not.
I did not buy a $2000 computer so I could use it as a DVD player. When I watch video I want to be able to go in and out of full-screen mode. I want to be able to switch between applications, use natural controls and interact with my mouse.
Using Voddler on a computer is utterly useless, it sucks, it blows. I can not express how disappointed I am with this product.
When Voddler releases a sleek sexy Apple TV-like box to come with the application however; I will recommend my dad to buy one, since I nor any other person with any technical interest uses a TV any more. I know of only one person my age that actually owns a TV.
If Voddler wants to have any chance at all at capturing a computer-based market, they need to make a computer application. Not some embedded crappy rootkit-ware that renders your computer completely useless for anything but watching rental-videos.