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CNET unveils next generation of video interface

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Cnet.com last month launched the beta version of CNET TV 2.0, which has a radically different look and feel from its predecessor.

The earlier version had a black background and a novel navigation device designed to look like a TV remote control. It had a playlist with 10 to 15 videos chosen by the cnet.com team and a video player at the center of the screen.

The latest version has a white background, tabbed navigation bars at the top of the page and several boxes in which video lists are displayed, including Most Popular, New Releases, Today's Playlist, an automatically rotating selection of featured videos and two featured product categories. There is also a box for sponsored videos that is not yet fully populated.

CNET TV 2.0 has two navigation bars, one above the other. The upper one allows users to move quickly to other parts of cnet.com. The lower one organizes videos within CNET TV 2.0 and provides drop-down menus that allow a user to dig deeper into each category.

"We wanted to develop an interface where we could surface more of our huge library of videos," said Mark Larkin, VP- executive producer at CNET TV.

Another significant change is a second page within CNET TV 2.0. The home page "is all about discovery," Larkin explained. "The second page is all about watching video."

The second page doesn't appear until the user selects a video on the CNET TV home page and clicks play. The video loads into a larger screen—about twice as big as the largest video displayed on the first page. Titles of related videos automatically appear in a playlist to the right of the video player.

The space below the video has related text, such as a summary of the episode that's playing. Or, if a user is watching a product review, the text and graphics underneath the video summarize "the good, the bad and the bottom line" and display the editor's rating and the users' rating. This is a shortened form of cnet.com's product review format.

Larkin said the decision to move from beta to official launch will be made based on users' response to the beta.

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