The new BitTorrent media store, the BitTorrent Entertainment Network, has been live for a few hours. It's a mixed bag, and these are my hands-on impressions. I wanted to come up with five pros and five cons. But I think the cons outweigh the pros, and this list reflects that. Update: The section on games has been rewritten and moved from pros to cons.
- It's fast. BitTorrent.com has big pipes. This morning, even on files that no one else was hosting (no one else in the swarm), I got 1MB/sec download speeds. An episode of Reno 911 downloaded in eight minutes. Speeds may improve as more users join the network. (Perceived speed could also go down if BitTorrent.com gets overloaded and there aren't enough users sharing the load on the files you want.)
- No more barely functioning torrents. If you pay for a file, you'll get it at a reasonable speed.
BitTorrent downloads can be delivered to you using any BitTorrent client app. Partial to uTorrent? No problem. Now you can mix your legal and pirated downloads all together in one client!
- Very limited device support. Files are all Windows Media format, using Windows Media DRM. Mac and Linux users are out of luck. So are iPod users.
- Poorly organized store. Hard to browse series of TV shows. All the episodes from a particular network show up in a giant list. No easy way to buy a season or a series in one transaction.
- Can't use PayPal; credit cards only. How olde-tymey.
- No Battlestar Galactica. The library is big, but it is not complete.
- BitTorrent clients keep running once your download is done. You're paying for the company to distribute its files, yet the price of BitTorrent content is the same as it is from other centralized distribution networks. Heavy uploaders should get a break.
- Windows Media DRM sucks, and the BitTorrent license terms suck, too. Movies can only be rented, can only be viewed on one device, and time out after 30 days or 24 hours of viewing (whichever comes first). TV shows can only be authorized for two devices. You have to be online to authorize content for viewing.
- The B.E.N.'s game store is misleading. See update: BitTorrent's game downloads: A big hoax.