Wednesday, Adobe released Adobe Media Player (AMP), its entry into the IPTV market already occupied by Microsoft's Windows Media Center for Vista's Internet TV beta. Unlike WMC's Internet TV, which works only inside of Windows Media Center for Vista (which, in turn, is only found of Vista Home Premium and Ultimate edition), Adobe Media Player works with Windows XP SP2, Vista Home/Business/Ultimate editions, and MacOS X 10.4.9-11 and 10.5.1-.2. Thus, AMP is compatible with a much broader universe of platforms.
AMP is built on the Adobe AIR rich Internet content platform, already in use by eBay Desktop, AOL Top 100 Videos, Nick.com, and many other web-enabled programs. When you install AMP, Adobe AIR is installed automatically.
Higher-Quality Video Needs Better Hardware
AMP supports a wide variety of video content, ranging all the way from YouTube-quality 240p resolution all the way up to full HD 1080p picture quality (although my brief sampling of AMP didn't find much content ready for 1080p playback). If you are unable to display 480p DVD quality or HD-quality (720p or 1080p) videos, you might need more system RAM, video RAM, or a faster processor. See the System Requirements for complete details.
So, What's On AMP?
However, before you worry about making sure your system can run AMP, you're probably wondering - what's on? AMP currently offers thousands of individual TV episodes from almost 400 different series from over 40 networks in 46 genres. Whether your taste runs to classic sci-fi, music videos, home repairs, weather, cars, comic books, or about anything else, you'll find something to watch on AMP. You'll see a brief commercial before most content plays, and periodically during longer programs.
AMP's home page makes it easy to find video content by genre, recently added content, by networks, new content and personal videos you add to AMP.
The left pane is generally used for jumps to other parts of the collection, while the right pane displays thumbnails for the current category (a portion of the Comedy genre is shown below). Click a thumbnail to drill down or to play it.
Lower-quality video plays live in the window, while higher-quality video must be downloaded before you can play it.
The Options menu provides plenty of ways to tweak AMP:
Select whether to start AMP on the Home page or the My Favorites page
How to display new episodes
Whether to start with the first episode or the most recent episode
How long to watch a video before marking it viewed, and whether to remember where you left off viewing
Whether to complete the user profile to help customize content offered to you
Windows Media Center's Internet TV is optimized for the WMC '10-foot UI,' and emphasizes more current pop-culture content than AMP. AMP's a better choice for watching TV series, while WMC's Internet TV's a better source for movie reviews, music videos, and entertainment news. There's not much overlap in content, so why not try them both?
At this point, virtually all content's free, but be aware - one of Adobe's goals with AMP is to enable its content partners to "monetize" their content. In plain language, they'd like you to pay some money (eventually) for the content they offer. Hopefully, they'll provide full HD quality content to make the transaction worthwhile for you. In the meantime, sample and enjoy!