"An Exploration of Inherent Design and User Interface Flaws Within a Downloadable Home Cinema Paradigm"
or "Why ON DEMAND Can Suck It"
a rant by Jesse Harlin
Last night, Amanda and I decided to watch a movie on ON DEMAND, Comcast's Digital Cable answer to Net Flicks. I mumbled a bit about it before. Anyway, last night, Manda and I decided to watch "Ray," the Ray Charles biopic. It was okay. Not the greatest flick I've ever seen, not the worst (Well acted+odd direction/weak ending=just okay). Now, for those who haven't seen it yet, this is a long film. The short version is 2 1/2 hours long. The long version is 3 hours. I'm not sure which version we saw. Regardless, it's long.
Amanda and I were WELL into the flick (2+ hours) when I decided I wanted a drink. Now, if you watch Comcast's commercials for ON DEMAND, getting a drink in the middle of a movie is one of their much-touted benefits. "Sweet!" thought I. "I'm like Commercial Guy in the commercial who happily got himself a drink while watching his movie. The future is now!" We paused the movie, wandered into the kitchen, got some sodas, and - as we were crumpling up the recycling - the TV started to make noise again.
When we walked back into the living room, we found that the movie had unpaused itself and returned to the main ON DEMAND menu. Now, I wasn't all together surprised. Typically, if you start watching something on ON DEMAND, it downloads it onto your DVR and you have it available to you for 24 hours. This means that if you stop watching something, it'll remember where you were and give you a RESUME option (as in "start watching again," not "curriculum vitae").
Funny thing. What did surprise me was that Ray wasn't on our "SAVED PROGRAMS." We poked around through some awkward menus for a while. No luck. We tried to get it to resume by just selecting it again. It started over at the beginning.
The only option available to us was to sit there for about 10-15 minutes fast forwarding a 3 hour movie at 1x speed until we got back to where we were before I had had the nerve to get a drink.
Even the first few Precambrian Era DVDs had a freakin' Chapter Select option. The Comcast user interface is pretty bad to begin with. Add on top of that functionality that is buggy and apparently only works for those Hoity-Toity Jerks in the commercials. Damn you, Commercial Guy. Damn you and your well-wetted whistle...
In conclusion, ON DEMAND can suck it.