Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Have Seen The Future!

When was the last time you heard of someone buying a radio? How do your kids watch “TV?” And what on earth is ‘cable?’ The age of separate appliances for entertainment is nearly at an end. Radio and TV now arrives via fiber over the Internet. The term ‘broadcaster’ is being replaced with ‘program producer.’ It’s a new world coming, you no longer have to wait to see!

You can fast forward to the future today: Simply log on to your favorite streaming video or Internet audio site. My current favorites are and features shorts and full length versions of ABC’s prime time shows and more in full HD quality. Get a good connection and you’ll see the sharpest 16 x 9 picture you may ever hope to see. Port the VGA or S-Video output of your PC to your large flat screen display and you have seen the future! Commercials are easy to endure at less than 30 seconds each. ABC’s advanced presentation even brands your playback to your area by showing you the logo of your local old-fashioned TV station.

A similar site is the Fox and NBC consortium called Hulu offers more shorter length clips than ABC but also presents full-length movies with ‘limited interruptions.’ I watched the old classic ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and saw a single commercial inserted every 20 minutes or so. Not bad for free! This could be what ‘television’ evolves into.

You can easily build a new-wave media center for yourself. All you need is more and more laptops! I tried seeing how many baseball games I could watch all at once using Major League Baseball’s I watched four 1.2 mb streams without losing definition and continuity. It was pretty amazing! MLB does not air most of the commercials seen on networks like the Yankees’ YES or the Red Sox’s NESN. You’ll see an animated standby slide instead which takes a bit of getting used to. Baseball games local to your area may be blacked out, as well.

If you don’t have a method to portal your PC to external screens directly, you can also sneak the video onto the big screen using your kid’s video game console. I use a Nintendo Wii to watch You Tube videos or whatever else suits my fancy. Game consoles are limited in resolution and playback abilities. For instance, a Wii can only play back You Tube videos in regular size. It does not have enough horsepower to produce a ‘full-screen’ rendition, but you can zoom the images as big or small as you like. It’s not a bad compromise and the Wii interface is very easy to use.

Internet radio can be a lot of fun, too. Better than any shortwave set, I tune into Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Canada and a host of others in perfect quality and often in very nice stereo. I can tune into BBC Radio Scotland, RTE One from Ireland, OZ FM’s rock’ n’ roll from Newfoundland or WCBS Newsradio in New York City. It’s all there and it’s by demand.

So, let’s see…tonight I’ll watch the CTV news from Canada, take in The Late, Late Show from RTE Ireland, watch a few music videos on You Tube and listen to Michigan Public Radio before bed. Who needs a radio and TV? It’s all on my computer and it’s all free!

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