Miro

Miro, formerly known as the democracy player, is an attempt to liberate internet TV from its verticals (e.g. Joost). Essentially it is a video feed browser built on Mozilla technology; an open source media player (VLC) and bittorrent. What that means is that when you subscribe to feeds, Miro tries to download new items for you. The idea is to keep it open in the background and Miro will take care of making sure there is something to watch when you feel like it.

From the Miro website:

And finally, I have a favor to ask — if you think Miro is great, share it with someone.

No problem.

I installed Miro two weeks ago (to compensate for the loss of analogue channels on my TV, which I now fixed with a DVB-C set top box) and despite some rough edges with playing back content, the overall user experience is very compelling. Also the fact that there are now 2000+ video streams to choose from makes the experience quite nice. I found some interesting feeds with copyright free material from before WW II which despite the age is quite fun to watch. It won’t replace my TV but it is a nice addition.

About the rough edges (in order of priority):

  • Sometimes the video won’t show up and all I see is a black screen in the background. Solution: open the file in media player classic.
  • Sound quality: VLC by default does not dither sound to 24 bit, which causes all sorts of nasty sound artefacts for some files. Playing the same files in media player classic, which I have configured to dither to 24 bit, the problem goes away.
  • There are some stability issues.
  • Miro can hog bandwidth and ends up crippling my broadband connection because there is not enough bandwidth left for other applications. A throttle setting will be needed to fix that.

Despite these issues, playing with Miro is quite fun and technically it is just an alpha product at this stage so it is still quite excusable. One thing I’d like to see fixed is better integration with existing media players. Not being able to configure the media playing properly means that there is severe quality issues that would be easy to fix if I had access to the underlying media player configuration. Also, I have media player classic around for a good reason: it works very well and I really like it. VLC is not so good in my experience and I prefer not to have to use it.

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