Friday, September 22, 2006
Digital media company Orb is taking on the likes of Microsoft's Media Center and Tivo with its software offering that turns your PC into a media powerhouse. Once you download the Orb software onto a computer with a TV tuner, you can set it up so that you can watch streaming TV and other media from anywhere in the world along with scheduling recordings. It's a very neat idea that takes the limited sharing and broadcasting capabilities of more mainstream media devices and broadens it. The fact that it's not an established company gives it this flexibility, but I do wonder what breakaway success might do such as imposition of DRM on recorded shows.
Orb claims to be able to adjust itself according to the device you're accessing media on: if you use a handheld to view a show, it'll compensate by streaming at a lower bandwidth. Along with that handy feature, you can add family or friends to your account so they can add their media to the collection.
In its current incarnation, it's a useful application that ushers in media convergence: video, picture, and music can all be streamed through it. I can imagine logging on to a computer while on a business trip or vacation to catch up on an episode of Lost or Battlestar Galactica. For those homesick expats, this would be a great way to watch some familiar shows and feel more at home. Further out, once Internet access on airplanes is widely available, Orb could allow you to ignore the stale inflight movie and watch or listen to something more entertaining.