Teleport: first impressions
I tried Teleport Replay for the first time on Friday. Of course anyone who has a Sky+ box will already be familiar with much of this, but for this Telewest subscriber it's all new...
First, as I suspected, the choice is very limited: a some BBC programmes and plenty from Bravo and Living (how much Haunted could you want to watch?). There were only a handful of shows that I'd want to see, but as it's early days I'll make the assumption that this will improve.
Entry into the service is a little clumsy. You have to choose interactive on the remote, and then Teleport Replay from a menu. Again, I'd expect this to become a one-button operation.
So I browsed the programme selection and decided to watch Dragon's Den from a few days earlier. I selected the show - only to be asked for my PIN number before I could go any further. As I don't get asked for my PIN number if I want to watch a Front Row movie I found this a little strange, so of course I had to phone Telewest for a reminder.
I entered the PIN, my programme loaded, and ... I get about a minute from the end of the snooker programme that (presumably) preceded Dragon's Den when it was broadcast. There was no visual confirmation that I had actually selected Dragon's Den, so I had to fast-forward to get to the programme I wanted to watch. Very strange.
Now the system came into its own. I fast-forwarded through the opening titles and was able to watch the show in perfectly adequate quality, although it felt slightly lower than normal. I played around with the on-screen controls (play/pause, fast-forward, rewind) and I felt like I was in control. My wife came into the room and I was able to pause while I talked to her rather than carry on a conversation while I try not to miss anything - a major benefit.
Not quite so good was when she asked if she could see the news quickly before she went out. There was no way to pause and hold the programme while switching to regular TV, so I had to stop what I was doing, and go through the process once again. Now limitations appeared that will grate after a while. I had to start right from the beginning and do everything again, including entering my PIN number and fast-forwarding through the snooker. I also had to fast forward through the programme to find where I stopped, as it didn't remember where I was. The ability to bookmark a point in a programme and switch straight back if interrupted would be a great benefit. So would a variable fast-forward - it took a while to get back to where I was.
I was just wondering whether the MBA graduate with the Bollywood board game would get the £70,000 funding she was looking for (actually, by that stage it was pretty obvious that she wouldn't) when the phone rang. It was my son, asking if I could pick him up from football. Off went Teleport, out I went, and by the time I got back Dragon's Den had given me all it was going to give that night. I settled down to continue my journey through 24 on DVD (in the interest of balance I should point out that I have to keep a piece of paper in the box set to record by hand the time of the segment each time I stop watching, and when I start again I have to not only listen to the Fox intro but select an episode then chapter every time - but then DVD for the most part is a one-way experience).
So what are my conclusions? Will this change the way I watch television? My initial impression is that the current content restrictions mean that the benefits are small but welcome. Where it will score will be in what I hope will be the next phase, when there is a more comprehensive programme selection and Teleport Replay is seamlessly integrated into my regular viewing and linked to a DVR that will give me total control - Replay will then become an interactive bin that will make sure I never miss something that I wanted to see.
Well done Telewest for taking this first step, and for making it free - now make sure you keep improving it and it really will change my consumption.