TV is changing – part 2

TV is changing   part 2 I mentioned yesterday about the new Sky TV widget called the Sky Gnome. It’s a fantastic idea, and welcomed, but it’s the stepping stone onto something bigger.

Wherther you’ve noticed or not, the way we’re watching TV is changing by each passing day. Sure, we’ve got hundreds of channels – sometimes thousands – but half the time the programme you want to watch isn’t on, or there’s only rubbish on. Sky TV (here in the UK) have already made great head-way into the “watch what you want, when you want” arena with the Sky+ boxes, as have Tivo etc. Good yes, but costly – I for one refuse to pay nearly 400 quid for a Sky+ box to go with my regular £21-a-month subscription to Sky (if you don’t have a “premium” channel like Sky Sports or Movies then you have to pay an extra tenner a month for the privilage of Sky+) So.. what are the other options?

Well, on the internet we have peer-to-peer TV streaming technology which allows the football-addicts to watch Premiership footie for free. Getting it is tricky though, as most of the Premiership matches are shown in Asia on ESPN. There was a utility called “CoolStream” but that has now bit the dust and “PPLive” has replaced it. However, although doing this brings pretty good results it’s a hit-and-miss affair and you have to scour TV listings for football, then hope that you’re on the right stream.. and enough people are feeding it through their connection.

Other options ? Well, you’ve got one much-ignored feature in WinAmp, which has really taken off again following the slow-down of “popup, popup, popup, advert, advert”-ridden Realplayer. Winamp allows you to watch “Internet TV” stations with it’s “NSV” (NullsoftVideo) format, which isn’t bad at all. Streamers fire their shows through servers and set a maximum limit on the amount of connections. This can create problems for popular shows, where the server limit is quickly reached, however it does give good results when you can connect. Open WinAmp, click “Internet TV” and choose what you want to watch. Sites such as Saltwaterchimp and offer good service with shows like Battlestar Galactica, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, 24, Top Gear, Family Guy, The Simpsons and more.. oh, plus the almost-compulsory porn. Quality on Winamp TV is fairly good, and watchable. Streaming on PPLive is really very very good at times – although you may have to live with the odd “drop out”.

Other options ? Well, BitTorrent of course. Download your TV show and burn it to a CD or DVD. A tad time consuming, but great if you’ve missed an all-important show.

So will Sky TV – the company with oodles of channels AND the network capacity to do it – will they be allowing customers to select WHAT they want to watch and get it immediately ? Sure – right now they have the Sky+ box which allows you to watch stuff once it’s been ON. They also have the Box Office capability, but we want “Click to view”. Then I want “Click to download to your Windows Mobile device”.. This is already pretty much done in Windows Media Center (Centre!!!) but we want to make it easier and seamless. TV should be as easy and as portable as a CD. You can put the CD into your DVD player, your car, your bedroom stereo, your friends stereo – or listen on the move.