by Jeff Smith
So far, we've covered streaming Internet Radio to your computer, and playing DVD's on it as well. This week, I'll talk about some of the many ways you can watch television shows on your PC. And when I say there are many ways, I mean it. You can stream many shows directly from TV network homepages like CBS.com, NBC.com, ABC.com... so for instance, if you missed the Season Finale of LOST or Grey's Anatomy, you can go and watch it (not right this second, finish the column first). Keep in mind that the quality of the show depends on your broadband speed, which locally, isn't all that great compared to more metropolitan areas.
There are other websites dedicated to hosting multiple channels/streams of content, such as Channelchooser.com or BeelineTV.com. Other sites let you watch amusing clips and home-brewed comedy such as Blinkx.com or LikeVid.com. And theres always the undisputed king of streaming video, YouTube.com which hosts videos on just about everything. An option for those of you who like to stay current on what's happening in the world is CNN.com. Another great site I just found out about is www.tv-links.co.uk. This site gathers links to TV shows hosted on other video sites such as YouTube. A definate must-see.
These are just a small percentage of the website-based video content providers you have at your disposal. Just google the term "video search" and you'll see a whole lot more. Still other websites allow you to watch streaming Internet-only TV channels using Windows Media Player. One such site is www.webtvlist.com, and there are more to be found if you search around a bit.
Now getting away from websites, there are also programs that are dedicated to streaming continuous
content to you. A relatively new TV player is TVU (www.tvunetworks.com) which hosts quite a few streaming channels, but a newcomer thats making a lot of waves is called Joost (www.joost.com). I'm sure there are a few more by now. But these are the best ones I'm aware of at the moment.
Yet another way to watch TV on your PC is by getting a video capture card ($50-$70). A video capture card usually has a coaxial connector on the back for your cable-line, and often an RCA jack as well to get video from a VCR or VHS camcorder (helpful in capturing home movies in order to make DVD's). What this will do is allow you to capture video directly from your cable TV line and display it on your desktop or record it to your hard drive for later viewing.
Some of the really nice ones will let you record one show while watching another, or record two shows simultaneously. Essentially, it turns your PC into a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). Coupled with a TV-out enabled video card, your PC will take the place of your analog cable box (not sure how it works with Satelite or digital cable, sorry) as well as allow you to watch literally thousands of videos from the web.
Add in all the PC games your hardware can stand, and you have one really nice multi-media machine.
Oh, and whats all this high tech TV wizardy without a remote? See ya next week for that!
(you can go watch Grey's Anatomy now, thanks for being patient!)
Questions or comments, write me at