Tag Archives | Internet TV

The New York Times on Boxee

Life Without ComcastI thought I was being weird and bleeding-edge by attempting to dump cable TV for watching sites like Hulu through Boxee’s open-source media center software on an Apple TV. But the New York Times has a nifty story today on Boxee and its fans–and once something’s in the Times, it’s presumably well on its way to going mainstream.The Times says that the Boxee-on-Apple TV software has been downloaded 100,000 times to date, which suggests that I have a lot of company already.

I’ll be writing more about my experiences soon, but my overarching takeaway at the moment is that Internet TV on a TV is, above all, different from cable–better in some respects, and worse than others. Of course, Internet TV is still busy being born–Hulu is less than a year old, and Boxee is still in alpha. Cable TV has a head start of a few decades. But if there’s one thing that undeniable about the Internet, it’s that it can catch up with old ways of doing things really quickly. And then go far beyond them…

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Life Without Comcast: An Experiment in Internet TV

Life Without ComcastMaybe the title of this new Technologizer series is unfair. I don’t despise Comcast, the company who I’ve been paying for cable TV service for the past six months. (Until then, at my old pad, I was a DirecTV man.) But I don’t love it, either–especially the part about paying it a large amount of money each month when I watch maybe .000001% of what it offers.

And oh, did I mention the remote control that came with my Comcast high-def box? Worst piece of technology I use regularly–every time I pick it up, my blood begins to boil a little.

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YouTube Comes to PlayStation 3, Wii

Here’s a statistic that’s bandied about by game industry cheerleaders: roughly 40 percent of U.S. homes own a video game console.

It’s also a figure that will likely be loathed by cable providers if more streaming video Web sites follow YouTube’s lead. Yesterday, Google’s video juggernaut launched a sleek interface for the PlayStation 3 and Wii. It was as good a reason as any to dust off Nintendo’s waggle box, so I checked it out. The service is basically what you would expect and hope for–a browsing and viewing experience that’s tailored to the size of your television screen. A similar channel is already available for TiVo owners.

Of course, YouTube is best for short bursts of random entertainment, and it only makes me yearn for support of a full-featured TV Web site, like Hulu or TV.com. See, I recently gave up cable to find out how much content I could replace with the Internet (and I’m not alone). As a cost-cutting measure, it’s great, but running an RGB cable between my computer and laptop isn’t ideal when I just want to lounge on the couch.

Solutions are on the way, like media streamers and possibly HDTVs that can support Hulu, but that requires an extra purchase. If you’re among the 40 percent that already has a gaming console, chances are you’d want it to be the hub for streaming Internet television instead of something extra. There is a utility called PlayOn that lets you watch Hulu and other sites on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but it requires a computer as the middleman. This can get clumsy if your wireless Internet is on the spotty side.

There’s been some hinting at integration with streaming TV Web sites, at least for the Xbox 360. Here’s hoping it actually happens.


Netflix via TiVo? Cool. But Not Cool Enough.

So TiVo and Netflix are announcing that their longstanding, apparently-dormant plans to work together have amounted to something after all: Starting in early December, owners of TiVo boxes will be able to stream movies and TV shows from NetFlix, and the cost is included in their monthly Netflix subscription. That’s good news. But it’s also by no means a substitute for the primary way Netflix distributes content–which is, of course, by shipping out DVDs in little red envelopes via snail mail.

That’s because traditional Netflix offers more than a hundred thousand titles, while Netflix Watch Instantly includes only about a tenth as many. Netflix’s own promotion for the Internet-based service stresses that it offers a “separate, smaller” selection of content, and that it includes “very few” new releases. (When was the last time you heard any company use the word “few” when discussing the choice it offers?)

You can’t blame Netflix for the skimpy selection–Hollywood just remains incredibly backwards when it comes to licensing movie and TV content for Internet distribution. And even though some other purveyors of Net-based video have a lot more stuff than Netflix Watch Instantly, including new releases, nobody offers what you really want: A service as comprehensive as traditional Netflix that lets you watch everything instantly on every digital device you own.

After the jump, a quick look at some of the major competitors.

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