Let’s look first at the LoveFilm interface, which is actually pretty good for the most part. On Mac we were very impressed by the effort LoveFilm puts into keeping you up to date with the biggest new titles it’s added, and the huge amount of options at your disposal for searching out stuff you want to watch.
Also impressive is the trouble LoveFilm has gone to to make plenty of its vast catalogue of stuff sound interesting, via themed compilations, and connections with new films just launched at the cinema. The success of this sort of thing is greatly bolstered, of course, by the large amounts of content LoveFilm has to draw from.
Plenty to catch the eye
The reasonably small size and presentation of the cover art for titles on all of the internet server pages is good too, in that it allows LoveFilm to draw attention to an awful lot of titles at once, making it more likely that you’ll quickly find something you want to watch.
LoveFilm on a desktop/laptop
It’s good to see as well that LoveFilm understands the importance of HD to many streamers, separating HD out into its own area, and making sure anything that’s available in HD has a clear ‘HD’ logo superimposed on its cover art.
More kudos is due to LoveFilm for the sense of community it’s managed to build up on its site, especially through the huge amount of user scores and reviews available for even the most obscure titles.
Finally in the plus column on the Mac LoveFilm home page is the amount of information on each film that pops up when you hold your cursor over a title you’re interested in. Ultimately the whole interface is busy, friendly and useful - pretty much everything you could possibly ask for, in fact.
The iPad interface is very slick too. In fact, it’s one of the best we’ve seen, making full use of all the iPad’s navigational tricks, as well as delivering a logical layout and achieving what feels like a good balance between using manageably large icons yet also populating the screen with plenty of content.
As for the Xbox, again it’s clear right away that LoveFilm has put considerable effort into optimising the interface for the device, following the general layout favoured (not to everyone’s tastes, it must be said!) by the Xbox’s main interface. This makes it intuitive to use, and again we felt impressed by the ease with which we were able to find content we were interested in watching. The way the system filters movies down with each letter you add into the search field works well too.
We were initially troubled not to easily find any way of filtering films so that only HD titles were shown. But actually the option is there; it’s just unhelpfully hidden away inside the ‘Collections’ menu sub-section.
While we’re on the subject of HD, our explorations reveal that the number of titles available in the high def format isn’t as high as we would have hoped. Of the 50 most recently added titles at the time of our tests, only 10 were available in HD. Or out of 50 films starting with ‘B’, 19 were available in HD. Figures which suggest that somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent of titles are currently available in HD.
Finally we get to the quality of LoveFilm’s latest streaming service. Will the addition of HD and, presumably, some cleverer adaptive streaming technology than LoveFilm has delivered before improve things from the service’s previously below-par AV experience?
The short answer is yes. But not quite as much as we’d hoped.