Thursday, April 27, 2006

Free time-shifted mobile TV rocks!

I have never been a fan of mobile television. My friend Russell Beattie (BTW, please Russ go back blogging, we miss you) has been telling me it is going to be big, showing me these videos on a cramped screen. My answer has always been "if I can't see the ball in a soccer game, I am not interested". Also, when do I have the time to watch TV on my mobile device (I do not live in Japan, I do not commute with a train)? Would I ever watch TV sitting on something different than my couch? Why would I pay for that?

Now, I slightly changed my mind... I am still not a believer in paying for getting my TV on my mobile. But if it is free... I guess I could find five minutes of my life, while sitting in my car and waiting for my next meeting, to watch something.

That "something" is the key. I still do not believe in live TV. If an event is live, you have to tune in when it starts and leave when it ends. If I had the luxury to do it, I would do it sitting on my couch like a potato. The key is time-shifted mobile TV. That is TiVo on my mobile. Watching something I recorded before, when I have those five minutes.

So... now I am a believer in free time-shifted mobile TV.

Why is simple: my friend Brian, Product Manager at SlingMedia, sent me a SlingBox. It is a hardware device that streams your TV over the Internet. No subscription. Buy the box (or get a friend to send you one ;-) and you are good for life. You can watch live TV (or your TiVo or any other DVR or a real-time video from a camera overlooking your child's room) from your computer, where you install the SlingPlayer. The quality of the signal on the PC is incredible. Still, there is no couch in my office...

SlingMedia has also a player for Windows Mobile (version 1.0 is out this morning). If you have a data plan - as in my Verizon Treo 700w - you can watch your time-shifted TV on your mobile phone. You just need a data plan, that I have anyway to get my Funambol push email.

For free. I get to watch the Champions League on my cell. Just the highlights. Just five minutes. When I have them. I can barely see the ball, but I see it. The quality is good enough. I love it. Free time-shifted mobile TV rocks!

Once you have something cool in your hands and you are a geek, you also start coming up with stupid way to use it. On Saturday, my daughter woke up early as usual (anybody has a tip on how can you teach a kid the difference between weekdays and weekends?). She wanted to see Dragon Tales. I got out of bed, went downstairs, fired Tivo. While walking upstairs to get back into bed, I grabbed my Treo. Half an hour later, Lisa shouted "Now I want to see Plaza Sesamo!" (the spanish version of Sesame Street). I took my Treo, clicked on it and started Plaza Sesamo from my bed. She shouted "Daddy, it started by itself!". I went back to sleep. Better than laying on my couch.

SlingMedia is the best thing that happened to television after TiVo. Go out and grab one as soon as you can. If Big Brother can prove streaming = copying, they will be shut down fast (I really hope not :-) But you will still have your SlingBox... Do not wait a minute.