There seem to have been a ton of video-browsing tools lately, but few have managed to change the user experience for those with computers doubling as entertainment centers. I use my PC for both work and play utilizing Windows Media Center, and navigating through videos with a remote beats using a mouse when you're lounging. SofaTube from Red Kawa (makers of several video conversion applications) is an attempt to create an easy way for people to enjoy video clips on their entertainment center PC or browser-enabled video game console.
On the PC side, SofaTube works very well. You're given a large canvas of movable video thumbnails, almost like a desk full of sticky notes. SofaTube aggregates a smattering of featured videos from either YouTube or Revver; clicking on a thumbnail opens the video in a pop-up view. If you have a high-resolution monitor, you can set the canvas to scale accordingly, making space for more video clips.
Interestingly enough, Red Kawa is pushing SofaTube for video game consoles with a Web browser such as Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii. Opera released the trial version of their browser for the Wii this morning, so I thought I'd use it to give SofaTube a go. Surprisingly, the SofaTube experience via the Wii is just the pits. The page itself is slow to load, and in most cases, any attempts to move the thumbnails around results in the accidental opening of the video clips. Instead of being optimized to open in full-screen mode, videos pop up at about half the screen size. Rather than being easier, using SofaTube on the Wii just ends up being a little irritating. These are all things that can be tweaked, but small icons on a TV are tough to read unless you have a large screen.
SofaTube is an interesting concept, but for people who are using this with their PC hooked up to a television, StumbleVideo, which we checked out last week, ends up being a simpler solution with its one-button browsing. If Red Kawa makes its ads a little smaller and increases the size of embedded videos, SofaTube would have a place in my living room.