Streaming television apps get better as new versions are released and PPMate NetTV is an example of what these programs are evolving into. A friendly interface and a load of original features mean PPMate is one of the most solid P2P streaming apps out there.
It’s easy to navigate around the PPMate interface. The screen is divided into two tabs: the player and the menu. On the side, you have a scroll down menu from which you can select one of the 940 channels available to choose from, with all sorts of categories covered, like sports, news, movies, and TV series. Channels you have viewed will be saved in the "Favorites" list and you can use the search-as-you-type function to find a specific show. There’s also a ticker bar in the player view to remind you of upcoming programs, although unfortunately it appears in Chinese. We like how the main menu interface shows a thumbnail image of the program and you can select programs by clicking on the category tab. You have a little popularity marker next to each program. The more popular a show is, the better it will stream. You can also maximize your streaming quality configuring the XP TCP patch. Setting it to 256 or higher should guarantee you good streaming quality.
Apart from messy interfaces and dodgy streaming quality, I found early streaming TV apps to be very unfriendly to new users. PPMate thankfully launches a quick help window at the start, detailing the main functions accessible in the program, like channel list, player control panel or captions bar. This is really useful in helping you get acquainted with PPMate.
Thanks to the recording button included in the player bar, you can record any channel you’re watching. However, the “browse recording directory” button is not well configured and won’t take you to recorded files. You have to open up the PPMate folder yourself to take a look at what you’ve recorded.
We were also disappointed by the subscribe feature in PPMate. While it should be simple enough to select and save your favourite shows, clicking the subscribe button in tools only displays a blank “notify” window with no further instructions. Hopefully this will be corrected in the future.
Compared to other P2P streaming apps, PPMate offers a great interface and very good streaming quality. However, the new features like subscribe or record were not totally up to scratch. We were surprised to learn that the program only works with WMP 9 or 10, so if you have version 11 installed, you’ll have to downgrade. Also, while the program offers hundreds of channels to choose from, the majority of them are from Asian networks, meaning Westerners might not find what they want. Hopefully in future releases, there will be a wider variety to choose from.