|18 Mar 2009||#1|
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Media Centre Alternatives
I can't run Media Centre in full screen since i must not have enough video RAM. The screen goes black but it shows up in windowed mode, plus i do not have a TV Tuner card in my laptop. i wanted to test the internet tv function but found myself frustrated with Media Centre so i turned it off (with that, i found Windows 7 to load a bit faster).
I find that TVUnetworks is a really good, but not complete, replacement to something like windows media center. it streams live cable channels and the best part is that you can find stations from all over the globe. the latest test version includes a PVR function. The latest stable version does not have this function. All versions (inlcluding versions for Mac computers, iPhone/iPod Touch, and Windows Mobile version 5.0+) are rock solid and easy to use, plus you can add favorite channels. The company also developed software where you, the users, can broadcast your own station(s). The mobile versions are in beta stages as they are new software added to their family of available software, but good enough to use. You can find channels from all over the world. I can get my non-biased world news, watch movies from movie channels that are not available on my own local cable broadcaster. Since this is a worldly software, there are many languages that a lot of these channels are broadcasted in. You can filter the stations based on the native language you speak.
The type of technology it uses is all P2P based, so its "P2PTV". Basically what this mean is that everyone who logs in creates a chain. All bandwith of the stations when you download/upload all bounce off of one another. When more users are logged on, the stronger the chains become. This is noted in the software as "signal strength". Each station has its own signal strength; as you move your mouse over onto the stations, you can see what the signal strength of that specific station is.
I really like this software, but here are some downsides. One, it is the internet. So in some cases, it will take a minute or two to bring up a picture. It is cool that users can bradcast their own channels or actual cable channels like SpikeTV or Sci-Fi, but don't expect other channels to be broadcasted like your own local stations, or channels like HBO that you may expect to see. The channels are only available if you broadcast that station for others to watch. Since this is P2PTV, the signal strength varies day to day. Some channels may even be offline or "off the air" as noted in the program. They are still listed in the even that the channel will come back online, but the channel isn't operational. Another downside is that depending on your network connection and speed of your broadband connection, at times you will see the video freeze, and the audio will keep going. The video will catch up, but there is a refresh option that will fix it.
There are good and bad sides to this software, but i think it is really good alternative to internet TV/Media Centre. It isn't a complete replacement because cable tv in my opinion is far superior, but it is good for someone like me who can still enjoy TV over the internet and you wouldn't need any additional equipment. All you need is boadband internet acces and Windows Media Player, and off you go. The latest stable release is good with Vista/Windows 7, but the test/beta version (the one with beta PVR function) at times will crash upon startup.
If you have any other suggestions on internet tv software, drop a line here; also tell us what software you use often as there are many others out there between on-demand and live streaming tv. i use TVUnetworks fairly often, especially when there is nothing on the regular tv.
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