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Olympics live: Cool, but with compromises

CNET News' Ina Fried doesn't mind staying up late to watch some live softball over the Internet. But the online commentary isn't quite synchronized with the action.

Monday night offered me the first chance to really test's live video. It was the first time I was home to watch the events and there was something live that I wanted to see more than what was on one of the television channels.

I stayed up late to watch USA Softball in its first match against Venezuela. The video quality was mixed--from a bit pixelated to quite excellent--but overall acceptable.

At first I found the online commentary helpful, right up to the point at which it told me that a particular player flied out a good 30 seconds before it appeared on video. NBC officials assured me that wouldn't happen. Moments ago, they told me Crystl Bustos would hit a home run just before she did. To avoid a repeat, I turned off the commentary.

It's one of several issues I have with the coverage. Unlike others, I'm not dinging NBC for saving a few events for the TV coverage. To me the real benefit of online video is to be able to see the events that are not and would not be on TV.

But considering it is more likely to be die-hard fans that tune into full games online, the least they could do is respect the sports fan audience. And that gets to my biggest beef, which has to do with the on-demand video, in which the score is shown constantly above the video. It's one of the main reasons I am staying up to watch the game, as opposed to watching it on-demand tomorrow. Live is the only way I can watch the game without also seeing the outcome first.

Still, I'm a glass half full kind of person, and I can't help but appreciate how much more is possible now than was just two years ago. And I am counting on things to be even better (read full HD) by the next games.

Disclosure: CNET News is published by CBS Interactive.

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