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Eye on Demand | December 16, 2017

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3Player (TV3 Ireland) Review

3Player (TV3 Ireland) Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
4
User Interface
6
Content on Offer
6
Device Availability
4
Airplay and iOS
7
5.4

Good Competition to RTÉ

TV3 may have a rather unimaginative and uninspiring name but that doesn’t stop Ireland’s second largest network after RTÉ standing its own ground. TV3’s catch-up service, 3Player offers a good range of imported content mixed with a pleasant smattering of locally produced material.

It doesn’t help Eye on-Demand readers avoid confusion with no fewer than 20 TV3s scattered around the world, and that doesn’t include the networks who refer to themselves as Channel 3. In days of yore when television services around the world remained a complete mystery to anyone outside of their borders, this was probably not an issue, but on a website like Eye on-Demand which looks at a broader, global level, the number of stations named TV3 can make things a tad bewildering.

In any case, 3Player provides a basic but concise service for Irish television and not only provide a supplementary service over RTÉ’s, but also offer some interesting exclusives. After-all, TV3 offer the only true breakfast show on Irish television with Ireland AM.

Content itself is relatively broad, though not exactly extensive and operates purely as a catch-up service. 3Player does not provide any on-demand back-catalogue so what is available generally expires 30 days after broadcast at best, with some content surviving only 7 days.

Video quality is at most sub-standard definition, which is never a good way to start a television streaming review. Why official providers don’t feel comfortable bestowing at least the basic level of standard definition in a day when HD streaming is talking of giving way to 4K Ultra HD, I simply have no idea.

Still, video quality is acceptable for general viewing, if a little pixelated, though sports and fast action video sequences will not go down as favourably. The further you sit back from your television, the better it will be.

3Player do offer a limited live streaming service, though in order to play with 3Player’s own EPG, it which works best if you set your device to local Irish time. Don’t expect complete streams such as that found with normal terrestrial services or even Aertv, as due to rights management, most programming doesn’t seem to be available for live streaming.

 

  • www.tv3.ie/3player

    3Player’s choice of colour, a sort of cross between Eminence and Cornflower Blue, does bring back memories of Demand5 from the UK. But overall layout is thankfully not as loud. It is also rather pleasant to not be bombarded by advertisements on the website, since TV3 is a commercially funded television service. Although ads do appear before and sometimes during programming, they are far from obtrusive.

    Logging in to 3Player will allow you to resume shows and view favourites on other web browsers and platforms, but although it is pretty easy to set a favourite when browsing videos, good luck in finding where your Favourites are then kept. (hint: Check behind the greyed out “signed in” button at the bottom of the screen). It should be mentioned that cross-platform Resume and Favourites may sound logical, but it is not as common in the FTA catch-up world as you may expect, so extra kudos to TV3 for including it here. It is just a pity such a useful feature is marred by the browser always forgetting my log-in credentials despite ticking the “Remember Me” box.

    3Player’s website also offers live streams for selected programming, although the vast majority will not be available due to a mess of licensing issues. However, if you click the Live tab at the bottom of the screen, any programmes available for live streaming will offer the playback button, otherwise you are out of luck. It does pay to set your computer or laptop to Dublin time to ensure the 3Player EPG is correct.

    Platform Pros:

    • The smaller computer or laptop screen suits 3Player’s video quality.
    • Quick to access content.
    • Resume & favourites feature for returning back to previously started or selected content.

    Platform Cons:

    • Sofa-unfriendly UI.
    • Confusing location to find your Favourites.
    • Browser has a habit of forgetting log-in details.

    (Without a good DNS or VPN service, 3Player’s content will be restricted outside of the Republic or Ireland)

     

    iMac TV3 1

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

  • Best Choice Stamp3Player is available as either a dedicated iPad or iPhone (iPod Touch) app from the Irish iTunes store, although given the fact that they are little more than web-apps in the guise of real ones, there is little reason to go to the trouble of installing them.

    The iPhone app is especially handy, making fine use of the small display. In fact that smaller screen is perfectly suited to almost allow the otherwise substandard video quality look very good. The Last Watched and Favourites lists can be found by clicking the “Signed In” tab, although interestingly enough, 3Player requires WiFi to operate, so no browsing TV3 content on the bus for you!

    iPhone TV3The iPad app also seems little different to the 3Player Safari web interface, although in this case, thankfully not the mobile version. As with the iPhone, there is little real incentive to install the official app over the Safari version, as it even misses a couple of rather important features.

    The main omission comes with AirPlay. Both the 3Player app and web UI happily airplay content over to your Apple TV, but only the Safari browser version will do this with multitasking glory. If you switch off the iPad or iPhone or use the device for anything else when streaming with the dedicated app, your video will stop playing – a rather odd thing since 3Player allows this with the almost identical Safari web-app.

    Web-apps are rarely as good as proper dedicated apps, at least when a smooth and responsive user interface is taken into account, so it is a little disappointing that TV3 have opted for this path regarding their iOS platform. Still despite this, it is a fully functional method to access 3Player content, both for mobile use and airplayed onto your main television set, and there certainly are much worse iOS apps for other catch-up services around the world.

    Platform Pros:

    • AirPlay support, allowing easy viewing on main television.
    • Sofa-friendly user environment.
    • Cross-platform compatibility with Resume and Favourites.

    Platform Cons:

    • Confusing multitasking support for AirPlay.
    • No 3G access possible.
    • No offline downloads.
    • App has a habit of forgetting log-in details.

    (Without a good DNS or VPN service, 3Player’s content will be restricted outside of the Republic or Ireland)

     

    TV3 iPad

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

  • Overall, 3Player performs an adequate job with their catch-up service. There are a few things which they do right, including an uncluttered user interface, good AirPlay support on iOS and cross-platform Resume and Favourites.

    But there are other things they could do better, such as a greater level of consistency with their features and above all, higher quality video – at the very least standard definition.

    Platform support is far from wide, but at least with iOS/AirPlay and wide browser support they cover a few bases. What would be nice is greater smart TV coverage, especially noticeable when lacking from the market leader, Samsung.

    If you are resident within the Republic of Ireland, or an expat hoping for additional content from home above and beyond RTÉ, then 3Player should not be missed.

    Pros:

    • Good solid catch-up service for TV3 and 3e programming.
    • Most content available for 28 days after first appearing.
    • AirPlay support, including multitasking when using Safari.
    • Cross-platform support.

    Cons:

    • No offline downloads.
    • No back-catalogue.
    • Confusing and limited live streams.
    • No 3G access.
    • Limited platform support.

    Technical Details:

    • Works on most computer browsers (PC/Mac), however IE7 or above required for Internet Explorer.
    • Available for selected Sony Bravia Internet capable TVs and Blu-Ray players sold in Ireland. (TV apps are not available on Sony TVs sold outside of Ireland).

    Log:

    03.06.2013: Review published: Score 5.4, Good Competition to RTÉ.

     

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Comments

  1. Porte Graeme*

    Geoblocks me even with a good VPN!

    • Which VPN are you using and what platform? I’m having no problem at all with Overplay.

      • Porte Graeme*

        My Private Network

        • Thanks for getting back. Well, I can’t vouch for your own private network, but I just tested it via my VPN which goes through Overplay’s servers and it works fine.

          • Porte Graeme*

            Would it work JUST on Overplay DNS or does one have to buy the Overplay VPN service as well for this and BBC Iplayer, ITV etc?

          • Works on Overplay’s SmartDNS, at least when I tested it this morning, so you wouldn’t need the full VPN. Also, the same SmartDNS will also give you access to iPlayer, ITV and other UK services, all Netflix regions, Hulu (subscriptions naturally required) and a load of other services. You don’t even have to switch between countries.

  2. Porte Graeme*

    YEs, this is what I don’t get about the DNS service…do I have to fill in another DNS into my Ipad, for example, every time if I want to watch soemthing in the UK and then in the US, etc?

    • You can change the DNS on each device you wish to access foreign TV. e.g. if you watch using your iPad and a Smart TV, just change the DNS on those two devices. Or, you can change the DNS “only” on your router, then every device in your network will be able to access the foreign material.

      One configuration is all that is needed. So, no, you don’t have to change the DNS at all if you wish to switch from Irish TV to UK or US TV. I have tested this with a single computer and four browser tabs open at the same time. One was playing BBC iPlayer, the other TVNZ, another ABC from Australia and a third Hulu from the US, all working perfectly at the highest quality streams.

      Because SmartDNS doesn’t tunnel into different countries, it means you can make full use of the bandwidth you have, without the usual deterioration found when going through a VPN. So, you can often get far better streams than normal VPN‘s.

      If your ISP changes your external IP address each day, this is something you will have to reset daily – although it is very easy (just visit the SmartDNS website which you can do from your iPad), but it is possible to automate this as I have done (and have instructions on this site).

      There is one other catch. A catch-up or on-demand service must be configured by the SmartDNS provider and for a specific device. This is why I stick to Overplay here. I use that SmartDNS service and it would be too much work for me to test every catch-up or on-demand site on every smartDNS service with every piece of kit. But any service reviewed on Eye on-Demand has been tested to work through Overplay’s SmartDNS on the equipment reviewed.

      Makes it easy to know which services work, and which don’t. That doesn’t mean it won’t work on other devices, or additional services don’t work, but I have not got around to testing everything yet.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  3. Porte Graeme*

    It most certainly does. Very well explained indeed and I will be going for a 6-month try later this month.