BBC iPlayer

What is it?

As of late October 2008, the BBC iPlayer has a "big screen" option specifically designed for viewing BBC programmes from the 10 foot distance. This is the click to play (i.e. Flash) viewing rather than the download facility. The iplayer bigscreen option can be accessed using standard web browsers at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/

November 2009; the Wii can access the BBC iPlayer using a specially created Wii Channel. The BBC iPlayer Wii Channel can be downloaded for free from the Wii Shop Channel. The BBC iPlayer Wii channel provides a nearly identical interface to the big screen version described here. The iPlayer bigscreen website does not display with the Wii browser, instead you must use the specific Wii Channel.

The iPlayer bigscreen home page has a pleasing horizontal scrolling image selector for choosing the Highlight programmes. The content of all the iPlayer bigscreen pages fit in a TV sized window; no need for pressing the Wii B button to see the link you need

The Search tab brings up a progressive search facility, pressing 's' selects all programmes beginning with S, no need to press any "start search now" button ...

... then pressing 'i' shows programmes beginning with 'si'. There is nothing to distinguish the list items if they all have the same title. This progressive search facility does not use a standard html text box, so you cannot click into it to bring up the Wii keyboard and a standard PC keyboard can't be used to enter text.

The programme information is clear. Note that the download option does not appear, unlike the equivalent view in the small screen iPlayer.

Linking into your tv-true platform

Simply point your tv-true platform browser to the BBC iPlayer bigscreen web page.

The Opera positional navigation (i.e. holding the shift key and pressing the up, down, left, right arrows to access the next nearest link) works fine on all the pages of the bigscreen iPlayer except for the actual player window.

Access Using the Nintendo Wii BBC iPlayer Channel

From April 2008 the BBC started additionally encoding their programmes in an older Flash format that the Nintendo Wii can display. The BBC still encode in the newer format as well, offering better compression and quality for the platforms that can handle it. The schedule of encoding for the Wii sometimes lags behind, so a programme maybe available for the newer format before being available for the Wii. The quality of the video for the Wii is far from perfect, it is quite blocky with low frame count per second but it is usable.

How tv-true is it?

The bigscreen BBC iPlayer has been designed with the 10 foot viewing distance in mind. Fonts, colours, navigation and page layout are all exemplary of tv-true design. The only last detail missing is that the Flash player page does not start in full screen by default. Perhaps Adobe do not allow this possibility but more puzzling is why the maximise button is not available when viewed from the Wii.

As with all Flash players embedded in web pages, there are no hyperlinks or keyboard shortcuts to access the features of the player (pause, volume etc). This means it would not be possible to configure a remote control to drive the player.

There is an alternative website offering a tv-true skin to the BBC iPlayer http://defaced.co.uk/wiiplayer/ (this alternative is no longer in operation but is not really a problem since the BBC developed the official iPlayer Wii channel).

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