Friday, 8 May 2009

Web streaming from Torrent

Online BitTorrent client BitLet has released a new service that lets users stream MP3 and Ogg encoded music directly from torrent files. The new music feature, called westeam, works by prioritizing bits at the beginning of each track -- and then subsequent to the one you just listened to, but also gives preference to rare bits to achieve optimal speeds. WeStream is a Java applet that works in any browser that support Java.
Westream's interface is simple, with controls for volume and playback. Like any BitTorrent client, it also seeds the file for as long as you keep the browser window open (click on the download speed link to see the speed at which you're uploading). "It would have been easy to design the streaming client to be extremely selfish, and make it care only for its needs," wrote westream's creators in a blog post. "Ideally, we tried to avoid it: westream should behave as most torrent clients, with a slightly different piece choosing strategy."

In my testing, westream worked perfectly with nary a hiccup. I was able to quickly stream any track, start to finish (I picked a torrent with an ample amount of seeders from Legit Torrents for my tests). Of course, the quality of audio and level of gaplessness you experience will be totally dependent on the health of the torrent you're trying to stream.
The volume control seemed a bit wonky (going from very soft to very, very loud without much in between) and it would be nice to have the option to download the torrent straight away if you like what you're hearing. But in general, westream performs very well.
Westream is a useful BitTorrent innovation that lets users essentially "try before they buy." Presumably, the same idea can be applied to video -- imagine: streaming video distribution over BitTorrent. Very cool.

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