Earlier this week I was out of town on a business trip, and I had several TV recordings waiting for me on my Home PC. Since I was bored surfing the local TV channels in my hotel room (nothing was on, of course), I wished I had access to my video recordings so I could watch them. Sure, I could have used logmein to put the WMV video files on an ftp server and then download them to my laptop, but that would have been a big hassle with the extra work, transfer times, etc.
Recently, I did discover a new free service called Orb which is a software package you install on your home PC (with an “always on” Internet connection) that will stream video, music, pictures, or documents to a remote computer system via the Internet. So if I had this software installed on my home PC, I could have watched my TV recordings on my laptop in my hotel and feel right at home!
Also, Orb can be used to display a live TV show from my home PC via the installed TV Tuner card, which sounds very much like what the SlingBox hardware can do. As a test, I found that streaming live TV shows in this manner appeared choppy and had a lot of delays with the stream buffering, but I imagine some of that can be fixed with some tuning of the streaming settings.
To use Orb, you simply go to mycast.orb.com in a standard web browser and log into your Orb account. From that point, you can select which video you want to watch from your home PC, and let Orb do its thing. Orb will do a quick speed test (to determine the resolution and streaming speed) and will then bring up an appropriate media player on your remote machine for playing the video.
When I tried streaming one of my WMV video files (converted by my PC for my Zune), it did come across the Internet connection very well with no delay in stream buffering. Most likely this was due to the fact that the video resolution was 320×240 and thus it didn’t need to send across too much data per frame. Still, using Orb seems to be an effective way of watching my TV recordings while away from my home PC.
What’s really cool, is that I was able to stream a WMV video file from my home PC to my Motorola-Q cell phone (with Windows Mobile 5 OS) which played in Windows Media Player. The video image was reduced in resolution, but it played fine. Not bad for a wireless internet connection via the Verizon cell phone service. I can certainly see myself using Orb to watch my TV recordings on my Moto-Q phone while waiting at the airport gate, in my hotel room, etc.
As another test, I tried accessing Orb using my wife’s Blackberry Curve smartphone. Sure enough, it worked fine for playing the selected video (albeit, the video image was small on her phone).
So, I highly recommend you check out Orb to see if it meets your video watching needs.