Voddler has the potential to be a great film service although the lack of film choice in the Spanish pilot version and general usability still need much improvement for it to be really popular.
Just under two years ago we were on the first blogs to test and review video-on-demand service Voddler plus we brought you an exclusive interview with co-founder Mathias Tönnesson. We've now had chance to see how far it's come as Voddler starts a wider European-wide roll-out in Spain. Note that Voddler is still only available in limited regions.
Voddler started out as purely a desktop client but the company soon decided to integrate it with a web based service after numerous security breaches and complaints about usability from users.
To stream films in your browser, you need to download the desktop client. There is also an offline client available for download which allows you to play films you have paid for without a net connection.
The good news is that Voddler's web client provides stunning DVD quality images and sound. Most importantly, streaming quality and stability are excellent. We weren't able to test it on a large HD screen but on an average size monitor, the quality is superb.
There is a mix of free and paid for films. Those that you have to pay for cost between €2-4 and can be watched offline. Free films are supposedly supported by adverts but in half an hour of video, we didn't see any adverts although this will surely change as the service becomes more popular.
This is slightly different to the original format rolled out in Sweden where you had to sit through a maximum of 5 minutes of adverts at the beginning before the film starts.
When Voddler launches from the web client into the film it goes straight into full-screen mode. I would prefer to have been prompted whether I wanted to open in windowed or full-screen mode but you can revert back to windowed mode by pressing Escape.
Controlling Voddler is now much easier thanks to integration with the mouse for stopping, fast forwarding, adding subtitles etc. Note that you can only do this once the adverts have stopped playing.
Annoyingly, if you're watching films dubbed into another language such as Spanish, you can't just switch to the original language. However, in the Spanish version we tested, you can search for the film title and "V.O." (version original) to view the film in it's original version.
There are many different types of programs to choose from namely Movies, Documentaries and Series. You can sub-divide these by Most Popular, Highest Rated, Newly Added etc.
The choice of films and documentaries in Voddler isn't fantastic although it should be noted that we tested the Spanish pilot version which has a limited catalog. The full release in Scandinavia has over 4,000 free titles plus 2,000 rental titles.
In fact in the Spanish version, it's extremely sparse at the time of writing with just 5 documentaries for example.
However, there are some slightly dated blockbuster films available for free. There is a definite lack of newer films but that will hopefully change as Voddler becomes more popular and secures exclusive deals with more film labels.
Each film still has a handy synopsis, trailer and average user rating. There's now integration with Facebook and Twitter (although the former function wasn't working when we tested it) and a review system where you can clearly see user movie reviews and add your own. There's also a selection of recommended films connected to what you are watching.
Voddler isn't a bad video on demand service overall. However, there were times when films simply wouldn't start and I think some improvements could be made to the way films are categorized and organized as it can feel overwhelming and crowded. Most importantly however, Voddler will have to increase the quality and quantity of films very rapidly if it is to be successful.