Orb Networks’ PC Content Sharing

Next up in the media portal race is a service from Orb Networks. Their technology allows PC users to stream content off their home computer to any other compatible device that’s connected to the internet. This means that you can watch programmes you’ve recorded using your Windows Media Centre PC on a compatible mobile phone of PDA almost anywhere.

To do this, Orbs’s technology takes music or video from the user’s PC and then determines the best format, codec and bit rate for the target device and then streams it from your home internet connection to the device you’ve requested it from.

Orb intend to expand the product beyond PC users – they want PVRs to incorporate the technology also, which will prove trickier. Indeed, TiVo have just had a lucky scrape when they had a similar feature approved by the FCC earlier this year, after criticism from the MPAA over its security.

Tim Bajarin president of Creative Strategies at Orb Networks explains why they’ve produced their media portal: “Many of today’s digital entertainment devices and services place limitations on the amount or type of content consumers can access. People may be able to watch live television remotely from a cell phone or notebook, but are restricted to watching only a handful of stations. Additionally, today’s digital music services often try to lock users into using one particular device and media player. Very simply put, Orb takes away these boundaries giving the consumer what they want – uninhibited, spontaneous remote access to all of their digital home media.”

Content providers media companies don’t want their content going anywhere near the internet – even if you technically have a right to view it when ever you like. Expect Orb Networks to come under fire from the usual favourites when the service launches in mid-November. When available, it’ll cost subscribers US$9.99 (€8.11) a month, or US$80 (€65) a year.

James Behrens, chief executive officer of Orb Networks said in a statement: “Orb Networks has developed a brand new way for people to be connected to their digital media all the time from anywhere in the world. We have found a way to bring consumers what they want – simple access at any time. Consumers can watch live TV on their laptop, schedule a DVR recording through their PDA, or even listen to their music on their cell phone while jogging, biking or shopping.”

Orb Networks

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?