Yahoo may not have the same stranglehold on online video as YouTube does, but it sure has tried. Yahoo does, however, boast a simple channel system and a large library of content from outlets like the Associated Press and cable news stations. In its video widget for Yahoo TV Widgets, Yahoo tried to focus on easy access to these channels instead of competing with a YouTube-type of service. Unfortunately, the result of this is an application that's often light on featured content and devoid of a search function.
When launched, the Video widget displays a thumbnail of a featured video along with buttons that link to channels like movies, sports and news (sadly, no finance). Some of these channels are great; the news and sports ones provide the top stories from the AP and generally content-rich. (We counted 15 videos under the US News category one day.) The Kids Movies channel is also surprisingly robust and offers a variety of trailers and clips for upcoming and recent releases. Then there are features like the regular Movies channel, which offers a handful of outdated movie trailers, and awkwardly promoted specialized content. While a strange addition, we could definitely see people interested in being able to easily access cooking advice videos from their kitchen TV. But a Nascar channel? We're still trying to figure that one out.
Disappointingly, and almost alarmingly, there's no search function. This is a major limitation on the widget and really minimizes the amount of available content. This also means that you're stuck flipping through the pages of each channel to find what you're looking for. To make this a somewhat faster process, each channel can be marked as a favorite, after which it can be quickly accessed by scrolling through the snippet form of the widget on the dock. Also, at the end of each video, four thumbnails suggest related videos to watch. Particular videos, however, can't be marked as a favorite.
Video is only viewable in full-screen and has pretty bare controls. The video quality is decent, although it stretches all content to match the wide-screen display. It's about the same quality as the AP videos on the regular Yahoo Web site; it looks a bit noisy, but it's definitely watchable and generally better-looking than the YouTube widget we recently reviewed. This, along with some of the better available content, gives the widget a good foundation. It's just a shame it doesn't have much more than this to offer.
Next up: Yahoo and USA Today Sports