Orb TV aims to deliver streaming video sites Google TV can't

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#1
Via Crave

Orb TV is aiming to succeed where Google TV and Boxee have stumbled.
The new video-streaming product from Orb Networks aims to let users watch a wide variety of streaming video on their big-screen TVs. That sounds like a wide variety of Internet TV products that we've seen introduced this fall. The difference with Orb TV is that it should be able to deliver unfettered access to a wide variety of online video sites, including TV network sites (Hulu, ABC.com, NBC.com, CBS.com, and so forth) that have since been blocked when accessing from the built-in Flash-enabled Web browsers found on Google TV products, Boxee, and the PlayStation 3.

What's the catch? There are two, right off the bat. The Orb TV doesn't offer HD video, and it requires users to run the Orbcaster server software on a Mac or Windows PC elsewhere on their home network. That software streams the Web video to the Orb TV, which displays it on the television to which it's connected (via composite or component AV cables). In other words, you'll need to keep the PC running whenever you're watching the Orb TV.

Thankfully, you don't need to have a laptop nearby while watching. You browse available shows via the Orb's free control app--available on Android phones and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). In addition to the aforementioned video sites, Orb is aiming to support Netflix, YouTube, and CinemaNow streaming and will also provide for streaming of videos and photos on the host PC.

If this sounds a lot like PlayOn--which allows online video to be streamed from PCs to game consoles and other TV-connected devices--it is.

The Orb TV hardware resembles a large hockey puck. Network connectivity (to the source PC and the phones/tablets acting as controls) is handled via built-in Wi-Fi. Orb supports multiple Orb TVs on a single network, so you could theoretically have one connected to every TV in the house.

Of course, the big distinguishing feature--also touted on PC-based "screen scraping" products like Veebeam--is that the Orb TV should be "unblockable." Because the video stream originates on a PC, video sites shouldn't be able to block access as they do with traffic originating directly from products with built-in browsers (like Google TV, Boxee, and the like). Toss in the fact that Orb TV's got an impulse-friendly $99 price--and no additional fees for accessing open Web video sites--and you can imagine that a lot of consumers will happily overlook the requirement that their PC needs to be left on.

 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#3
Im using PlayOn with the Roku and its a bit of a hassle and doesnt work as well as direct streaming. So that is another strike for Orb. However the UI looks like a winner and better than PlayOn on the Roku.
 

Jason Fritz

Administrator
Staff member
#4
Im using PlayOn with the Roku and its a bit of a hassle and doesnt work as well as direct streaming. So that is another strike for Orb. However the UI looks like a winner and better than PlayOn on the Roku.
The only thing I've seen with PlayOn is on a PS3. It's software to run other content providers like netflix, Hulu, etc, isn't it?
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#5
Yes. In the case of Roku, PlayOn transcodes everthing and then acts as a server to the Roku box on the local network. Roku needs this because it can only accept H.264 coded video....so is limited in what is accessible. PlayOn makes a whole lot more content accessible. It also being on the Laptop and working through IE8 can screenshift Hulu to the Roku/Big Screen TV.

The ability to transcode is what makes the PlayOn useful to the Roku system I have....that and accessing Hulu on the big screen.

----

On another note. I dont mind SD streaming. Content is King. My 1 Mbs (Vudu Test) 1.5 Mbps (YouTube Test) 2.5 Mbps (SpeedNet Test) download speeds on the DSL dont really allow for HD streaming.....so. Im fine with 480p Anamorphic at those data rates, though I do crave more bandwidth.
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#6
BTW, PlayOn is not officially supported by Roku. PlayOn announced official support for Roku, but Hulu protested, and Roku snubbed PlayOn in order to keep Hulu happy so as to get Hulu Plus.

However, PlayOn is usable, and not a very well kept secret.
 
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