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The tremendous growth in both Java and multimedia present an opportunity for cross-platform distance education systems exploiting the power of audio and video to enhance the education process. However, little research has been done on evaluating Java multimedia performance nor on assessing its viability as a platform for distance education. In this paper, we present experiments that measure the multimedia performance of an MPEG-1 client in Java, and evaluate its potential as a distance education platform considering both video frame rate and jitter. We find Just-In-Time compilation, local media access and processor choice significantly affect multimedia performance, while choice of operating system, Java virtual machine and garbage collection have a negligible effect on multimedia performance. While overall Java still lags considerably behind multimedia performance in C==, suitable video performance can be achieved in Java, which, if carefully deployed, promises to enhance distance education systems.