I used to be a big YouTube fan. I went on just to find some funny videos, good music videos, and tons of stuff. At that time, it was the best video site to find content. But then Google bought it. And ever since Google bought it, YouTube still had problems, and it got somewhat worse. But it’s getting better now. YouTube recently got a makeover, and it looks nice. But it somehow looks quite similar to another video-sharing site : MSN Soapbox. While the name sounds kinda cheesy, it’s way better than YouTube video. I’ll tell you why. This is how Soapbox is better:
- The Flash UI – The UI is great. It’s quick, it works smoothly, and you can even search and watch videos at the same time. I like it’s new look (implemented since February) which is a nice shiny black. It’s slick and nice. It’s very user friendly. If any video-sharing site looked nice, Soapbox wins on this one.
- Faster video uploads – On YouTube, it would stretch for like 10-20 mintues. Soapbox is a bit quicker, not too much, but quicker. And Soapbox was the 1st to actually have a better loading bar than YouTube. Too bad the upload is the same in YouTube, that there’s a limit of 100 MB. You can also still surf and watch videos while your videos are uploading and processing. A better advantage than YouTube. Watching, and surfing the site, are just a bit slower while a video is uploading, but I think they fixed it.
- No ads! – There’s absolutely no ads on Soapbox. Besides the MSN brand. It might not stay that way after beta, but for now, it has no yucky ads in the way.
- Playlist feature – You can arrange videos in a playlist. Every video has a plus sign on the bottom-right, where you can add it to your playlist. The playlist is on a button on the video player. It works real nice and slick. Removing videos is easy too. Unfortunately, you can’t drag and drop videos on the line, but it’s better than nothing. I love that feature. You could arrange a whole playlist of music videos, and they’ll start one right after another. That’s a great feature.
- Live service integration – each user has a Live account. If you hover over a user’s display icon, you can press a down arrow, and have options like to see their profile, invite to be a friend, view contact card, and tons of Live integration. That’s great for Live users. There’s also MSN integration with the stuff on the top right. Nice.
- Dedicated toolbox – A nice toolbox on the bottom right side of the video player. I like the IM integration. You can IM a video to your Live Messenger buddy. All the other buttons work just great, open right on the ‘This Video’ tab under the video. The whole UI is nice and consistent. You can change the star rating anyway you want. If you change your mind to put 4 stars, you can do it. You don’t have to wait around again to fix what you rated. All tools under one box is great. No having to dig around and stuff.
- Quality is much better – I see that my videos seem to have a higher quality than YouTube’s. I put exactly the same videos on each site, and Soapbox always looks sharp and better. I’ll put down two videos below, so you can see a comparison. It’s always been a complaint on YouTube, and I’m glad they’re finally doing something.
- Tags – Tags are commonly used here. There’s a much more better tagging feature than YouTube does it. Soapbox does it more clearly, and related videos, actually are related.
- Embeded player is better – before YouTube’s new embedded play, Soapbox by far was the best. You could find much more info and stuff about the video on the player itself, than YouTube was. YouTube’s new embedded player is nice too, but Soapbox was first with it. I’m starting to think that YouTube pulled some new UI fast before Soapbox comes out of beta, because they don’t want to look bad.
- Overall great experience – On YouTube, it can get tiring trying to find the right video. Avoid reading some stupid comments, and see less dumb things, and actual interesting things. Well, it’s probaly because there aren’t many users now, but at least it was nice while it lasted. Soapbox still wins hand’s down in overall experience.
Now I’ll admit, YouTube was first. There’s no denying it. At a time when videos were at a low on the net, YouTube pulled in and helped bring the world of videos together. I admire them for that. But there’s always time for the next evolution. Sort of similiar to the Sony Walkman to the Apple iPod. Now it’s going from YouTube to Soapbox in the evolution. While it’s not likely that Soapbox will surpass YouTube anytime soon, it’s still in terms great than YouTube is. The experience is just great, and it’s one of MSN services that I actually I can say that I love. There are some problems that I have with Soapbox, but they’ll come another time. Below are 2 videos of the same kind. One is the video YouTube version, and the other is a video Soapbox version. You tell me which has the better quality (It’s kinda hard to press them at the same time, but if you play it at about the same time, after toggling play/pause on each video, you’ll see the difference).
That’s about it. I’ll update it later to talk about the few negatives of MSN Soapbox.