First Look: Cyberlink Live Beta

Jun 12 2007

Those of you familiar with MissingRemote.com might remember my Guide to Streaming Media article I wrote a while back, comparing Orb, Webguide and SageTV Placeshifter. Well, apparantly the folks over at Cyberlink saw it as well and decided that they could have something to offer and have named it CyberlinkLive. So let's see how their early betas can compare with the more veteran software packages from the other competitors.

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Start page of CyberlinkLive

 

Review

I'll start quite honestly...there's really not a single feature new to Cyberlink Live that you can't find in Orb or the other media streaming options, so the purpose of this first look is more to show what it has to offer. It is free after all, so assuming it doesn't break your system, it just might be worth a try if you dislike the others for some reason.

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View your music library View songs within a folder

I've attached a few screenshots of the interfaceinterface so you can get an idea of what it looks like (and also to give some constructive criticism, of course). Please take this all with a grain of salt, of course, since the software is currently in BETA form, meaning this is not the final version.

First, let's talk about the main menu screen and its utter waste of space. You have 4 large images with titles, and the images are completely irrelevant to the titles. Why? Who knows, but Cyberlink might not want to confuse their users for no reason. Why not include some tiled images of some thumbnails within a users library for each item instead? At least then its got a personal touch to it.

The features according to Cyberlink are as follows:

CyberLink Live lets users remotely access their personal media-including live TV, video, audio, and photos-by simply logging into the CyberLink Live website. If a TV tuner is installed on the home PC, users can stream live TV programs with time-shift playback directly from the CyberLink Live website.

So not that complicated, and essentially the identical features of Orb. And to be fair, it technically does everything it claims, but it just doesn't do it as well as Orb. Use the Audio/Music screenshots above as an example. There is no settings option to change the display so you're stuck with alphabetical and just having to jump page by page. I have a decent collection which amounted as 448 Pages. Yes, you read that correctly, four-hundred-forty-eight. Not exactly the quickest way to peruse through your library.

When you find an album you want to play, you are shown a player which is fine-looking. An obvious lacking is a variety play method. There's no random or shuffle option, so you're stuck with the default playback method. Again, like with most of the complaints I have with this software--it works fine, but missing some features we've now come to consider standard.

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Search is....completely worthless Streaming recorded TV show

The horrible library management organization (the alphabetical prison is the same for photos & videos) wouldn't be horrible if there was a Search feature. Unfortunately, the Search is so completely useless, that I'm literally at a loss for words. I tried searching for a music artist at home, while connected to my LAN, and then from work. Neither search gave me any results (well, I closed it after 30 minutes with 0 results). Hopefully this is just a feature that hasn't been looked at, but seriously dissapointing.

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Manage all those photos. And by photos, I mean album covers. *Sigh*

I would comment on the Photo Library, but I couldn't find any. When you setup your media, you don't specify your Audio/Video/Photo directories separately. As a result, my Photo Library was generated full of the album cover art files. While I understand the desire to keep setup simple for newbies, this type of occurrence was extremely frustrating.

You'll notice the omission from any actual TV-Streaming. I own 2 x Hauppauge PVR-500 tuners, which are not on the list of supported tuners. If you want to stream TV with this, you better have one of these cards:

  • ASUS Tiger-S
  • Asus TV-7133
  • ATI Theater 550
  • ATI Theater 650
  • ATI TV Wonder MK 3
  • AverMedia M103
  • AverMedia M104
  • AverMedia M115
  • Creatix CTX-918
  • Creatix CTX-949
  • Creatix CTX-953
  • Compro VideoMate X800 New
  • Conpro VideoMate TV Gold Plus II (M505) New
  • Hauppauge PVR-110
  • Hauppauge PVR-150 (Amity 2)
  • KWorld LiveQ (IPTV UB110)
  • LifeView 502N card bus
  • LifeView LR306
  • Pinnacle 7010i
  • YUAN Fun TV 7135 (TUN900)

I'm sure this list will grow by the time it goes live, but it's rather surprising to not see the most popular dual tuner supported (especially since it's chipset is virtually identical to the PVR-150).

Conclusion

Probably one of the easiest conclusions I've ever had to write (and most predictable): This software is just not ready for primetime. While normally I'd allow the "BETA" label to allow a certain amount of leniency since it is a work in progress, but CyberlinkLive has so many problems with it that I can't imagine it all being remedied in time for an official release.

The biggest shortcoming of Cyberlink Live is that it just doesn't offer anything unique. And that's what confounds me more than anything. With Orb basically dominating this market, Cyberlink had the opportunity to do something unique. Of course offer the standard features that the other packages do, but give people a reason to switch to your software. Maybe this is coming eventually? Maybe not. From the looks of their first few beta releases, they've got some work to do.

Cyberlink is a great software company and always release quality products, at a price. They've chosen a tight market to compete in. The FREE Media streaming/placeshifting software is really dominated by Orb. And it's going to take more than this to take a share of their market.

I love competition since I believe it's the only way to continue innovation, so I honestly do hope the folks at Cyberlink see my criticism as constructive and don't give up on this. How great would it be if Orb & Cyberlink just started being more & more innovative as to the way you view your media? The possibilities would be endless.

No rating since it's beta software, but hopefully there'll be more to come by launch.

 

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