No Video. Just a big blue box instead.

Posted on 17 July 2006 in Interactive TV (1 comment)

You should always know what your competitors are up to. Which is why I spent some time the other morning flicking around between Sky Text and Teletext on my Freeview box at work.

I could probably write a thesis on the problems I have with Sky Text's user interface, but I'll restrain myself on this occasion. However the fact that they have a page labelled "A-Z", on which the contents aren't actually organised alphabetically always cracks me up.

Teletext on the other hand does have an A-Z. It's rather cumbersome to use as it's spread over several pages which means much scrolling and waiting for pages to load. Sorry guys, but I much prefer the BBCi Index - okay there's lots of scrolling to see all the contents, but you don't have to wait for eternity for the next page on the list to appear on your screen.

Anyway, I (as usual) digress. The main reason I started this post was because I spotted that Teletext have a new option. It's buried away on the menu you get when you press the blue button, and is labelled "Video On/Off".

What's this, I wondered? Well errr... It turns the quarter screen video which appears on the left of the screen, well, off.

By off I actually mean "covers it with a great big blue box" which looks rather strange visually. No content fills the space - just an empty blue box.

I suppose it's there to please people who find the video visually distracting, although how many people that number is, I'm not sure. I don't recall it ever coming up as a problem in the user testing of BBCi that I've seen. Indeed most people seemed to think that having the programme in quarter screen whilst you were looking at text was a bit of a bonus, although it's not to say that it's not a problem for some.

It does seem rather a strange thing just to put a blue box over the video. Can't help but feel that a simple image might be a bit visually nicer, although of course, the ultimate effect would be if turning off the video meant that the page was reorganised to use the space better although that would probably require a significant amount of extra bandwidth which would slow the rest of the service down.

Most curious of the whole exercise is that when you actually use the option to turn off the video, the audio is left on, which seems to counter the effect if it's there to prevent distractions! And if it's not there to prevent people being distracted, what is it there for? Sadly even Teletext's help pages don't explain that one.

One final word should mention the fact that I did try and get some nice screenshots to show you just what I saw. Alas the set top box which is attached to my computer is an old OnDigital box - exactly the kind that Teletext no longer supports...

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Sue Hibberd said:

Re Teletext on Channels 3 and 4 after 15.16 December 2009,
So now all Tletext provides on analogue is
Phone and Text Alerts, Racing and Bookmakers, Holidays, NHS Choices Health and Directgov, and details of DSO including Teletext Ltd's Freeview channels, BBC Ceefax is definitely the main anaolgue text provider on British Television.

Are there now any plans to delete Ceefax page 629 in the next few weeks as BBC Wales Cymru will complete DSO on 31 March 2010?

Posted on 23 February 2010 at 11:44 AM

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