It looks like the final blows have been dealt, from a technology perspective, for cable television and the strangle hold that they have held over Canadians for some 60-years.
It’s certainly no secret that the internet has become a very robust repository for all sorts of media files from music, to videos to news, to well whatever your mind can imagine.
We talked on this program before about the newer technologies, like the Western Digital Media Player and Apple TV, but a another technology has also been quietly refining itself and is finally moving into wide acceptance, especially among the more technology savvy users.
It’s called XBMC or if you will X-Box Media Centre, and it’s a cross platform software package that connects users to streaming and on-demand audio, video, software and a host of other file types.
When we talk about cross platform, we are really saying that whatever you have, it pretty much works including Windows, Android and Apple TV.
The down stroke is that it’s still early in the products development, so you have to be involved in the installation. The software itself is easy, but you need to install the content separately. Fortunately, there are a ton of YouTube videos which explain pretty much every aspect of the setup, so grab your tablet or smartphone, load up a how to video and start the process.
A bigger issue is the connecting of your computer to your home theater, assuming that you really want a High Definition image and surround sound. It would seem that the easy route would be to make sure that you have HDMI built into your video card, but most older machines don’t have that feature, and who would want to spend the money on a new video card till you’ve had a chance to try this out for yourself.
What we did here was to take the standard video output from the computer and connect it to out digital TV, using the PC input. It works ok, but we are not getting the super crisp images you would expect from today’s systems. For audio I simply took the analog output from the computer and plugged it into the CD input on my home theater, set the audio to simulated surround, and we are off and running.
There are three flavors of video available. The first is streaming video, where I watch the show of movie directly from a server, I can download and store the videos and I can hook directly to the on-demand feed from the television networks to watch mainstream broadcast television. All worked really well, and being free, make watching television really robust and a whole lot less expensive than subscribing to cable or satellite TV. Our use XBMC has grown steadily since we started the testing progress, and is currently the source of choice for about half of our video watch time.
Because this is a landmark step forward in television, we’re going to dedicate the next groupings of shows to look at specific aspects of XBMC so you can get a really good idea about how to put this to work for you.