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Does Streaming Video Work Well Enough To Be Enjoyable?

Live streams were a godsend for us office-folk during the World Cup earlier this year, because watching games in halting, blocky clips was better than not watching them at all. Otherwise, though, is streaming good enough to really be enjoyable?

YouTube’s showing off their new streaming video platform, YouTube Live, and while you may not necessarily recognise all the partners on the marquee for the initial two-day trial, YouTube’s past work broadcasting U2 concerts and E3 presentations live on the web suggests that they’re serious about the endeavour.

For one-time events like those, ones that you just wouldn’t be watching otherwise, streaming proved to be a great resource. The picture may not have been crystal clear at all times, but it was definitely better than nothing.

Once you move beyond arena rock shows and world-class sporting events, though, the question becomes this: Is the jerky video and constant buffering worth it? Of course, streaming video quality depends on a variety of factors: how fast your connection is being chief among them. But even with my generally snappy Time Warner broadband, I still find that I hit snags more often than not when I’m watching streaming video. Brian Barrett tried YouTube Live this morning and said that picture quality was “OK, not great” (though he found the live video comments – the type of interactive feature that could make live web video something fresh and exciting – “terrific”.)

So when it comes to killing time with some mindless entertainment and you’ve got your laptop on your lap and your big screen TV just a few feet behind it, does YouTube Live stand a chance? Let us know how well streaming streams for you in the comments.

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