So after its stealth launch yesterday, I decided to give Google Video a whirl. I was especially heartened by the news that Google Video would work with iPod. Everyone has been trashing the Google Video interface because it's not pretty, but I was OK with it. The drop-down menu got me where I needed to go: Deep Space Nine videos.
However, the interface failed me when I got to the list of available DS9 videos: all it listed were the titles of the episodes and the title screen, which is the same for every episode. It gave me no information on what season an episode was from or what episode number within that season it was. I'm a fan, but I don't have all the titles memorized. There's also no description of the episodes. So I picked a nice-looking title at random. Once I clicked on the name, I got a bit more info about the episode, but not much.
So I clicked the button to buy the episode, and it prompted me for my Google login. I gave it, and it promoted me for my login again. Three times it did this until I started to doubt I had my password right. I tried a different password, and it told me the password was wrong. I even logged out of Gmail and back in to make sure I had the right password. I went back and tried two more times, and finally, it worked. I got a Confirm Download button with the information that this video would work only in Windows XP and would require an Internet connection to watch. Wait. What about the iPod? I went ahead and spent the two bucks to see what would happen. It started downloading the Google Video player, which I thought I already had, and then went about playing the video.
Since I wanted to see if I could move the file onto my iPod anyway, I clicked a link to manually download the video without downloading the player. It did so in 2 seconds, hardly enough time to download a 45-minute episode. I went into the Google Help screens and found that next to the download button, it's supposed to give you a drop-down menu of the available format options, one of which would be iPod video. Deep Space Nine had no options. In fact, it had no drop-down menu. And even if there were one, you wouldn't get that drop-down menu until after you've paid for the video. So I guess I should have read the tea leaves of "require Internet connectivity" to mean, "no iPod version available." But it would have been nice to spell it out.
I looked through other options, such as Charlie Rose interviews, old I Love Lucy episodes, the Twilight Zone, and more to see if I could find one that mentioned iPod video, but none of them did--at least not before you've paid. I wasn't willing to keep on droppin' Hamiltons to find out. I did find a free video from The Screen Savers TV show back in 2000 that gave me an iPod video option with the download. So at least it's not a total lie.
In the meantime, I'll stick with iTunes for paying for video content. It's the same price, and believe it or not, Apple, of all things, gives me more flexibility with my content than Google. This is the first crack in Google's once very shiny armour. I hope the company fixes it soon. And CBS? You might want to strike a deal elsewhere just to hedge your bets.