Recently I wrote about a new video discovery service, called Jinni, which I’m still using and enjoying. Now comes a similar and somewhat related new service called PopScreen. PopScreen is a video bookmarking service, not unlike Delicious. But it’s a bit more than that too, combining some elements of discovery and sharing that make it robust and unique.
The service is still in beta, but there are invites trickling out fairly regularly (at least 250 are released on their Twitter account every week). The signup process is dead simple and clearly designed to waste as little of the user’s time as possible. Simply pick a screen name, add your real name, an email address, and a password. You’re done.
Then you’re presented with PopScreen’s biggest asset—the bookmarklet. Click and drag to your browser shortcut bar and you’re all set. Later, when you’re surfing the web and stumbling onto new amazing videos, you’re literally one click away from adding them to your PopScreen account for future use. Whenever you come across another hilarious video you know you’ll want to watch again, just click your PopIt button and go on about your day.
Of course, there’s a bit more to PopScreen than just the bookmarklet. You can plug in your username and password for nearly any video sharing service you can think of—YouTube, Vimeo, UStream, etc.—and PopScreen will import either your uploaded videos from that service or your favorite videos… or both. It’s a fantastic way to get users to buy in, by almost instantly adding all their current favorite videos across all platforms. Very smart.
You can also add videos by URL or even embed code. And PopScreen tracks their users videos to create what they call the PopCharts, which you can browse in order to discover new videos you may have missed.
According to their About Us page, the mission is to answer the question, “I just watched an awesome video… now what?”
I’m not sure there are too many people actually asking that question, to be honest. I rarely finish a video and immediately wonder what to do (hint: it’s usually “get back to work”). But I do often find myself trying to remember where I saw a particular video, usually because I’m trying to send it to a friend. And that’s ultimately what you’re using PopScreen for… organizing and categorizing your favorite videos so you can easily find them again and share them. But whatever points they might lose for an underwhelming About Us hook they more than make up for with the service itself.
You can view your favorite videos from right inside the PopScreen account, and I’m really digging the slick player and interface they’re using. They even have a “lights on/lights out” toggle which dims the rest of the screen on demand to enhance that movie theater feel. That brought a smile to my face. Here’s a screenshot of the PopScreen player:
You can choose to view the video in widescreen, click to see a more detailed description of the video, or search for another video in a bar at the top of the player. They’ve also included the now-common “share” options for Facebook, Digg, Stumble Upon, and more… right inside the player itself.
PopScreen also allows you to create playlists and rate your videos, and, like most sites these days, appears to be aiming for a bit of a community feel.
Of all the features I’ve mentioned above, I think my favorite thing about PopScreen is the user interface. It’s clean, simple, slick, and really fast. They haven’t tried to bowl you over with glitz and noise, favoring functionality instead. And I’m not even a big “UI” guy. Many times I don’t even notice it—some might argue that means the UI is good. But I’m not a designer. I don’t tend to go there first with my praise or my criticism. And yet one of the first things I noticed about PopScreen was the sleek design and incredibly easy controls and navigation. I’ve been playing around with it for a few days, and am still routinely impressed with its look and feel.
Of course, there’s no shortage of video bookmarking sites cropping up. Just Google “video bookmarking” and you’ll see what I mean. It’s clearly a “hot” space, and we’ll probably see only a handful of long-term players survive. I sure hope PopScreen is one of them. Of the others I’ve tried—and I certainly haven’t tried them all—there is always either something missing (like the bookmarklet/Firefox extension) or they’re using an eye-bleeder of a user-interface. (There are some seriously jacked up and too-busy designs out there in this particular field.)
I need to wrap up the flowery praise lest I find myself accused of being paid for this review. I was not paid for this review, by the way… PopScreen just really is that cool. If you’re in the video space at all, which I’m guessing most of you are, you should give it a look. All in all, it’s a pretty hearty bookmarking service with a sleek look that is also easy to understand and use. I’m sure I’ll be using it pretty regularly.