iSofa.tv is a new online video service that has a great concept and visual interface. Here's a better look at the service to see whether it has what it takes or if it's just another Youtube clone.Online video sites are cropping up all over the web. Yet the majority seem to be Youtube copycats in one way or another. Innovation is low and the space is becoming crowded.
The Portuguese online video service lets you watch internet videos the same way you'd watch TV. Upon visiting the site, an introduction video will immediately play. The video introduces the service and provides you with information on how to navigate. While you'd normally "surf" for something to watch on TV, iSofa.tv relies on search. Simply enter a keyword or the title of a movie and iSofa.tv will show all the results in a small navigation bar. The navigation menu features basic controls for moving between videos, adjusting the volume, playing and pausing, and a few other miscellaneous controls. You can scroll through video thumbnails and clicking a video will allow you to see it. Videos are played at maximum browser resolution, though there is an option to view in fullscreen mode. Each video contains a small pop-up description and you can email or bookmark videos.
While the site concept is great, there are numerous quirks I experienced with the service. If you have a wide-screen monitor, the full browser viewing experience is noticeably bad. The videos were blurry but not choppy. The stretching of the pixels to accommodate my wide-screen monitor only made the viewing experience worse. Personally, the videos weren't much better than your average Youtube video. Also, much of the site is in Portuguese and while the service is still in beta, there were features available that didn't work.
So far, the site has a very slick and simple UI design. The navigation menu was fully functional and my search results were accurate for the keywords that I used. Beyond this, iSofa.tv has a lot of work to do. Video quality needs to be much better if they're expecting this to replace my TV. Also, the majority of the videos I watched were clips and trailers. If they could make some deals and incorporate a catalog of movies it could help the service stand out more. For now, it's just another alternative to Youtube.