I decided to give Ivi a try and signed up for their 30 day demo period so others may not have to.
Of course I had to enter my creditcard info for the trial. 30 days free pretty standard but I would much prefer being able to try for a couple days without entering billing data to see the quality and to check out the software from a user perspective. Installing was just dragging to Applications, no needless installer. Starting was quick and streaming New York live TV started immediately. Oddly though I was never prompted to log in. . . why then did I have to register? How are they assuring that people don't just spread the software and use it without an account. This will take more looking into.
I am in the Seattle area and the channels that are available are all the over-the-air digital channels I can sometimes get with my digital antenna. (They seem to target Seattle and New York.) Nothing special content wise but because of the snow we've had today, Kiro 7's live news has been nice. I suppose if you are like me and live tucked into the bottom of the northeast side of a hill and can't get a solid over-the-air signal Ivi might be useful. I have been looking for alternatives to Comcast/Satellite for TV and currently use a 2008 MacBook Pro attached to my TV (headless now - had a shattered screen...) with TED and Boxee installed for getting streaming content and torrents.
Quality is pretty good over my Comcast cable internet. Check out the shots here: http://db.tt/ii1Alox Some frame drops now and then, but the audio has been smooth. Fast motion can cause the image to pixelate and show more compression artifacts. I plan to try it on the slower connection I have access to at work to see how it performs. I haven't been doing anything else with my system while I watch and write this and the peak receiving rate seems to be topping out around 250kb/s.
The software is passable for now but needs improvements. Fullscreen isn't really fullscreen as you can see in the screenshot. The menubar remains as well as the window titlebar. Not what I would want on a system attached to a TV in the living room. Settings and channel menu button has to be clicked on to dismiss immediately otherwise it hides after 5 seconds. It will re-appear again if the mouse moves at all which I think should be changed. Apple UI guideline purists will probably not find it acceptable at all, but it is fine for a multi platform application. Not surprisingly I didn't find options for Apple remote support. It was stable for the hour I let it run while changing channels, resizing the window, and giving the application focus repeatedly.
I didn't sign up for the trial of the DVR features (pause / rewind live TV) so I have no comment on those.
Final thought: Is it worth a monthly fee? Not at $5/month. I will likely cancel my account at the end of the 30 days if I don't find that I come back to it tomorrow or the next day. I'd pay $10 - $15 for unlimited use of the application with future payments for new major revisions and updates or maybe $1/month. But without a login built into the app how do I know anybody needs to pay and the app couldn't just be spread freely to anyone? I do look forward to new releases and what channels they are able (if any) to add that cable services carry.