13 July 2005

Podcast Talk: Odeo

Odeo is now done with beta and has been released into the wild. From my brief glance I see a lot to recommend it, starting with the website which is not cluttered with ad banners (although that may change). There are other little things about the site that appeal to me even though they don't affect the functionality much. For instance, I like the color scheme. It seems very soothing. I also like the way items glide into place when you make changes instead of refreshing the whole page. My knowledge of html is very limited, but I know that I have seen something similar added to the NetFlix site. It isn't necessary, but it gives the experience a futuristic feel.

As far as I can tell, Odeo is trying to set itself apart from other directories by creating a community of podcast listeners. Each podcast has its own channel, and listeners can leave comments on the channel or on a particular show. You can listen to shows directly from the site or you can install the Odeo Syncr (available for Windows and Mac) to download shows to your computer. Your queue is accessible on the site which is a useful addition if you listen to podcasts from work; you can delete the ones you've already listed to from your queue so you don't download them again when you get home.

Does this site have the content to keep you hanging around? As usual, that depends on what you are looking for. The Top 40 list only included five familiar names and "Dawn and Drew" weren't even in the Top 10, so you'll definitely see something different in this directory. If you don't see any of your favorites, then the Help Odeo Grow link will be your friend. Anyone can add a podcast to the site, as long as you know the address of the feed. This adds to the community aspect because Odeo members can introduce each other to shows. There is also the Zeitgeist which tells you what others have subscribed to in the last few minutes.

All of this sounds great, but I have been experiencing some problems. It can be difficult to find a certain channel, resulting in it being added more than once. For instance, I found two channels for Geek Fu Action Grip. They both have the same episodes but different subscribers. Some podcasts will not stream at work and I thought I would be able to use this site to get around that, but if a file is not encoded a certain way the Flash player on the site can't handle it. If I get sound at all, it sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks. The files also seem to download a bit more slowly with the Syncr than with iPodder or iTunes.

Since Odeo is still new, it should get better with a little time. I have a soft spot for people who are just starting out, so I'll keep giving them constructive feedback to help them refine the site. You know I can't keep my mouth shut!

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